The New Brunswick Medical Society is disappointed with the provincial government’s decision to make the legal age to purchase recreational marijuana 19.
President Dr. Dharm Singh says solely from a medical point of view, the minimum age for marijuana use and purchase should be 25 because the brain continues to grow until that age.
However, they eventually settled on 21 years old as their recommendation.
“Because we recognize there is a need to balance societal access, and also if we keep it too high like 25, there’ll be more illicit purchase of cannabis by young adults,” says Dr. Singh.
He says just because it is legal, does not make it safe, and the public must be aware of all associated health risks including addiction, cancer, and mental health issues.
“As a Society, we will continue to make our awareness campaign so that the public is more aware about the risk,” says Dr. Singh. “We have a responsibility and we will continue to do this public education campaign.”
Dr. Singh says some short term risks include memory loss, difficulty retaining learned knowledge, and struggling in school.
“We recognize there are concerns by some for setting the legal age at 19,” said Health Minister Benoît Bourque. “This is why we are committed to targeting our education to those most at risk such as our youth. As we move forward with this legalization we will continue to work with all partners on ensuring children, youth and at-risk adults have the necessary information to make informed decisions around cannabis consumption.”
The New Brunswick Working Group on the Legalization of Cannabis proposed that the legal age be set at 19 to harmonize with the legal age for alcohol and tobacco.
The working group considered a number of factors in its report including the high prevalence of cannabis users between the ages of 18 and 24 who may revert to the illegal market if they are not able to buy cannabis legally, thereby defeating one of the federal government’s main objectives of legalizing recreational cannabis.
More information about the health risks of marijuana can be found HERE.