Now that Canada has gotten the green light to sell recreational weed in a range of retail outlets, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recommended that the minimum age to partake should be set at 18 or 19.
“I think the proposal for the age of 18, or 19 in some provinces, to align with the [legal drinking age] across the country, is a reasonable compromise,” Trudeau said at a news conference on Thursday. “We know the largest misdeeds of marijuana use happens at a lower age than 18, 19 years of age, and I think this is a responsible approach that we have found in terms of balance that is both practical and useful.”
In most of Canada’s 10 provinces, the legal drinking age is 19; in Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta, the age limit is 18.
Trudeau, who has stressed the importance of listening to municipal partners and drawing on best practices from around the world, long has said pot legalization is about keeping it away from children and profits away from criminals.
“We are going to get this right in a way that suits Canadians broadly, and specifically in their communities,” Trudeau told CBCNews. “And that’s why we’re taking the time to weigh in properly and ensure that we’re achieving our goals of protecting our young people and removing the criminal profits.”
In a recent report, Canada’s Task Force on Legalization, which made the same recommendation as Trudeau, noted that setting the age too high had its own inherent risks, including “preserving the illicit market” and raising the possibility of arrest and criminal records of young Canadians.
The task force called the Canadian Medical Association’s suggestion of setting the minimum age at 25 “unrealistic,” saying it would force many young Canadians to turn to the black market.
Trudeau said he was confident the upcoming legislation will “protect children from the easy access they currently have to marijuana and to remove the criminal element that exists in the marijuana market.”
“Until we change the laws, the laws stand,” Trudeau said.
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