Saskatchewan’s physicians are calling on the provincial government to set 21 as the legal age to purchase recreational marijuana, once the drug becomes legalized in July.
“Physicians have long been concerned about the harmful effects of marijuana on an individual’s health, particularly youth. Evidence shows that prolonged use of marijuana in young people can have a negative effect on a developing brain, which develops into the mid-20s,” said Dr. Joanne Sivertson, president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association.
Saskatchewan has a unique opportunity to be a leader among Canadian provinces in restricting the availability of marijuana and marijuana products to youth. Seven provinces have announced plans to set a minimum purchase age of 19, while Alberta and Quebec have said they will set the age at 18.
“From a medical perspective in terms of brain development, there is some merit in setting a minimum age of at least 25, but balancing the fact that recreational marijuana is coming with the need to prevent illicit sales to youths, a minimum age of 21 is a compromise,” said Dr. Sivertson.
She noted the Canadian Medical Association and other provincial medical associations have recommended a legal age of 21, as has the Saskatchewan branches of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Lung Association. The Saskatchewan School Boards Association suggests 22 as a minimum age for the purchase of marijuana.
Delegates attending the Saskatchewan Medical Association’s 2017 Spring Representative Assembly passed a resolution calling on the provincial government to establish 21 as the legal age for purchase. Federal legislation proposes a legal age of 19, but provincial governments are in charge of distribution and sales and can set their own minimum age.