Pubdate: Sat, 17 Dec 2016
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2016 The Halifax Herald Limited


With the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana expected to
become a reality in Canada in the next couple of years, there are a
number of important issues to be considered as we proceed in a
sensible way - in other words, with caution.

This past week a federal task force released a report with a lengthy
list of recommendations on how Canada should move forward with
legalizing marijuana.

One that causes immediate concern is the task force's troubling
recommendation that would allow sales of the drug to anyone aged 18 or

Medical experts have consistently pointed to research showing that the
human brain continues to develop until age 25 and that smoking
marijuana poses a risk of brain development damage for young people.

Doctors Nova Scotia has urged the Nova Scotia government to set the
legal age for marijuana use at 21.

The Canadian Medical Association has made that recommendation as

The medical community points to studies that show marijuana use as an
adolescent can lead to increased cognitive problems and an increased
susceptibility to psychosis.

As Doctors Nova Scotia president Michelle Dow told The Chronicle
Herald's Andrea Gunn this week, marijuana, especially with heavy use,
may affect development of the brain and memory.

Studies show that the brain continues developing until the

The provincial medical organization outlined its stance in a
submission to the task force.

And it said it will continue to lobby for a higher age limit to be

The federal task force report outlines some 80 recommendations which
provide a number of precautionary practices.

For example, it argued that public health campaigns must be
implemented to inform people about responsible use; cannabis must not
be sold with tobacco or alcohol; it must be kept out of reach of children.

It also recommended information campaigns to educate people about
responsible consumption; the outlawing of advertising; establishing a
regime of taxation that favours sales of less potent varieties of marijuana.

These are all logical, practical and essential elements of any effort
that is designed to make legalization of pot proceed on the right foot.

However, given the medical counsel and evidence that has been brought
forward, setting the legal age at 18 would be irresponsible.

While selecting age 25 as the minimum for cannabis use might be too
much of a stretch, the logical and responsible compromise would be

We owe it to future generations of young Canadians to get it

It has taken a long time to get to where we are, let's make sure we
proceed with caution and prudence as Canada finalizes its plan to
decriminalize marijuana use.
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MAP posted-by: Matt