Pubdate: Sat, 09 Dec 2017
Source: Truro Daily News (CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 The Daily News
Author: John McPhee
Page A5



Health officials are disappointed that the province has set the legal
age for marijuana consumption at 19 years.

The consensus among provincial and national health organizations is
that the minimum age should be 21, and some believe it should be even
older, said Dr. Phil Tibbo, director of the Nova Scotia Early
Psychosis Program and a psychiatry professor at Dalhousie University.

"Regular cannabis use can actually have a significant impact on brain
development up until about your mid-20s," he said in an interview Thursday.

"The structure's there but it's all that fine-tuning of the
connections, making sure the synapses are in the right place, making
sure the white matter is in the right place to help all those
connections as well."

If that doesn't happen, the person's cognitive development can be
affected, Tibbo said. He emphasized that studies have focused on the
effects of daily or near-daily use. "We honestly don't have the
research on occasional use, once a month or something like that, in
this age group."

Doctors Nova Scotia said Thursday it also recommends age 21 given the
potential negative impacts on brain development for children and youth.

"We have endorsed the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health's
cannabis policy framework, which recommends 21 because that prevents
cannabis from being sold alongside alcohol," spokeswoman Janice Hudson
said in an email Thursday. "Legalizing cannabis is the right thing to
do from a public health perspective, but we think that selling it
alongside alcohol might not send the right message to the public."

In its marijuana policy announcement Thursday, the province said 19
years for cannabis is in line with Nova Scotia's legal age for
alcohol, and it pointed out every province except Manitoba chose ages
that align with their legal drinking age.

Tibbo questioned that rationale.

"I think from a population health and the medical aspect of things,
you know, perhaps using the age of something that's already in place
as your marker may not . . . be the right argument from a medical
standpoint," he said.
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