Pubdate: Sun, 16 Apr 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Nicole Thompson
Page: 23


Some teens say their likelihood of using weed hasn't changed since the
Liberal government announced details of its legalization plan - though
they say it's made them more aware of information on both sides of the

Government officials announced Thursday that cannabis would be made
legal for recreational use by July 2018, and those aged 18 and over
will be able to buy and grow a small amount of the drug for themselves.

But even as marijuana becomes more mainstream, several teens said
their opinions about the drug have remained the same.

Julio Gonzales, 19, said he enjoys using marijuana in moderation, and
he doesn't expect that to change - even smoking pot feels less
rebellious than it once did.

He said that, in school, he was taught that marijuana was

"They kind of classified it with a lot harder drugs like LSD or
cocaine, you know? So there was always that kind of 'villain-y' look
at it, (with) it being really bad for you," he said.

He expects the curriculum might change a bit, but he thinks teachers
will still advise teens against using the drug.

He said he knows there have been studies that suggest marijuana use
can be harmful to teens, so he's in favour of legislation that
restricts minors from smoking.

"I guess it's also kind of hypocritical of me," he said, adding that
he smokes because he finds that it helps him concentrate on his school

Ellie Labbancz, who will be 14 next month, said the news of
legalization hasn't changed her thoughts about pot either - she's
still staunchly against it.

She said she understands some of the positive arguments for access to
marijuana, including that it could reduce drug trafficking and crime.

But overall, she said, people could still abuse the drug, and that
doesn't sit right with her. She's worried about the negative health
effects, especially on young people's brains.

Canadian Psychiatric Association President Dr. Renuka Prasad said in a
statement put out on Thursday that early and regular cannabis use can
affect memory, attention, intelligence and the ability to process
thoughts. He said it can also add to the risk of mental health issues
among people who are already vulnerable.

The CPA position statement on marijuana cites studies that suggest
marijuana can interfere with the maturing process the brain goes
through in adolescence. It recommended an age limit of 21, as well as
quantity and potency limits for those under 25.

Todd Goncalvez, 18, said his opinion hasn't changed in light of the
legalization promise, and it's not likely to make a difference in
opinion - or frequency of use - among his peers.

"I don't see how legalizing weed will make much of a difference in
terms of limiting access to those under the legal age, since it's
already so widely available to kids as young as Grade 8 or 9," he said.

During the legislation announcement Thursday, Public Safety Minister
Ralph Goodale noted that Canadian teenagers are "among the heaviest
users in the western world."

The Canadian Tobacco Alcohol and Drugs survey in 2015 - the most
recently available data from Statistics Canada - suggests that 20.6
per cent of Canadians ages 15-19 had used pot in the past year.

But in spite of the new legislation, Goncalvez said he thinks people
are more likely to look at marijuana they way they look at cigarettes.

"Just like alcohol and cigarettes are legal and considered mainstream,
weed will still be considered a 'cool' thing to do," he said.
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