Legal age to smoke pot should be 22, school board association says

Expert says setting age limit above 19 won’t put a dent in illegal market

By Charles Hamilton – CBC News – Dec 05, 2017 

The Saskatchewan School Boards Association says only people over the age  22 should be allowed to buy pot. But one expert says setting a higher age limit won’t cut down on illegal users.

The association, which represents 28 public, Catholic and Francophone school divisions in the province, is urging the government set the minimum age for recreational pot use at 22.

Saskatchewan’s cut-off for publicly funded high school education is 21.

Earlier this year, Saskatchewan children’s advocate called for the legal age be set at 25 federally, saying its usage could increase the risk of suicide and depression in youth.

But one expert says while the health concerns around recreational use of marijuana are a serious concern, setting an age limit higher than 19 won’t stop young people from buying the drug illegally.

George Hartner, a lecturer at the University of Regina and one of the authors of a lengthy report on marijuana legalisation released last month, says research shows the the main demographic for pot users young people in their late teens.

“Setting the age limit at 22, if it doesn’t have an impact on demand, all it’s going to do is push these individuals or force them to continue to purchase in the illicit market,” Hartner said.

Legalisation aimed at reducing black market 

The federal government is aiming to make the production, distribution, and sale of cannabis legal in Canada by July 2018, and provincial governments are currently working to create their own policies.

The federal government has said a main target of the new legal regime should be to take the black market out of the marijuana sales.

Hartner says legal pot is coming and putting tougher age restrictions is not going to stop people younger people from purchasing in the illegal market.

“If we set an age limit at 22, individuals who are 19 whether they are in high school or not, are going to continue to get cannabis where they currently get it from—the illicit market,” he said.


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