Pubdate: Tue, 20 Dec 2016
Source: Metro (Edmonton, CN AB)
Copyright: 2016 Metro Canada
Author: Kevin Maimann
Page: 3


Experts divided on when youth should be able to smoke weed

Experts are debating the age limit for buying marijuana, with one
Edmonton group saying a legal age on par with alcohol could ease the
crowding of prisons and remand centres.

"There's a lot of people that are in remand, that are in provincial
institutions, for minor drug offences," said Chris Hay, executive
director of the John Howard Society, a non-profit advocating for
prison reform. "I think this will definitely help to stave that off,
or prevent that a little bit."

Legalization is expected in spring 2017.

A recent landmark report from the federal Task Force on Cannabis
Legalization and Regulation recommended age 18, but the Canadian
Medical Association is pushing for 21.

"This is a balance between protecting the developing brain versus
trying to address some of the social realities and harm reduction,"
said Dr. Jeff Blackmer, who is based in Ottawa.

"Obviously there's no perfect solution here."

Blackmer said evidence shows marijuana has a detrimental effect on
short-term memory and retention of information, and chronic use is
linked to depression, anxiety and psychosis in some users.

Ideally, he said, youth would not use the drug until their brains stop
developing around age 25.

"I think people are often a little bit surprised when they find out
that marijuana is not a benign substance," he said.

The Canadian Paediatric Society is pushing for 18, with conditions:
Dr. Christina Grant said there should be a limit on the potency of
products available to anyone under 25.

"If we put it at 21, all those under 21 are still going to be forced
to go to the black market, and then they're potentially at worse risk
because they don't know the potency," Grant said.

The society is also advocating for indigenous communities, where youth
cannabis use is twice as high, to set their own parameters.
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