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Canada Could Restrict Legal Cannabis to Adults 25 and Older

October 13, 2016
As Canada prepares to legalize cannabis for adult use, Ottawa’s public health agency is suggesting an unusual definition of “adult.” In a report that contains 33 recommendations on how to regulate the coming market, the agency recommends that the minimum age for buying legal cannabis should be set at 25.

The Ottawa Board of Health (OBH) is set to consider the recommendations next week, the CBC reports. The minimum age of 25 matches a recommendation already put forth by the Canadian Medical Association.

According to the report, more than two dozen health agencies worked together to come up recommendations they believe will minimize harm once Canada’s legal cannabis program is up and running. Gillian Connelly, manager of Public Health Promotion and Disease Prevention for OBH, said a minimum age was one of the most discussed issues among the agencies.

“We’ll have another kick at the can,” Connelly told the CBC, “and should the federal government come up with a different recommendation in the spring, we’ll reassess.”

Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott has said Liberals will introduce legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis next spring, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised before taking office that he will see it succeed.

Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 consume twice as much cannabis as the country’s general population, according to the Toronto Star. Connelly said the agencies agreed that a minimum age restriction, “must be coupled with rigorous enforcement and penalties for violations in order to be effective.”


Here’s Why Cannabis Legalization Doesn’t Lead to Higher Teen Use Rates

“We wanted to ensure that we’re reducing access for youth,” Connelly said. “One of the things that the research clearly demonstrates is that early access to cannabis can have detrimental effects for brain development and the brain develops up to age 25.”

Medicinal cannabis is currently legal in Canada with a doctor’s prescription, though many in British Columbia are just a short drive from Washington state, which allows cannabis sales to adults 21 and over.

Critics of the unusually high age limit say it could simply drive younger consumers to the black market, undercutting the consumer protections and other benefits of legalization. “Every market which is not available for the legal, organized suppliers is a market for the other guys,” Bruce Linton, CEO of medical marijuana producer Tweed, told the CBC.

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Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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  • La Oreja del Zumbador

    Wouldn’t it be unconstitutional to restrict legal use to 25 and older?

    If a citizen can vote, he/she should be able to decide for himself whether to use cannabis…or not.

    Make voting age the legal age to consume cannabis.

  • rdrake

    Dumb idea. Figures.

  • Nominalis

    Because people under 25 will never break the law.

  • Franklin

    No one is advocating cannabis for young people. The subject is a distraction in order to introduce a false hypothesis as a fact, which is clearly is not. There is no evidence that the cannabis plant has caused any harm to humans of any age. We have spent more resources on looking for harm with cannabis than any other substance. If we had found that harm then we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. The Schedule 1 designation from the US DEA is to look for and only “only report” negative findings if the NIH is going to even grant the research.

    Although no one is even talking about encouraging cannabis use among young people, it’s important that a fact or law that has been proven by science not be confused with nearly a century of propaganda and speculation. In 2014, JAMA concluded the database review of over a million pages of studies on the effects of the marijuana plant. Only 78 total were found to have any merit at all. Of those 78 found to be genuine, a score of “mostly favorable” evidence was found to support the near harmless effects of the plant.

    When dealing with public policy it is important to note that the prohibition industry is a 50 billion dollar a year business. We saw the corruption and Al Capone and gangland style of organized crime produced in just 13 years of prohibition in America. Considering that cannabis has been prohibited for about 80 years it is fair to assume there would be even more corruption It’s safe to say that the prohibition industry is a global industry and they have representation in every level of every government. This age 25 distraction is coming from that parasitic industry.

    The primary concern of course is how do we avoid the human response of desire for what is prohibited? Prohibition is not the answer and we have more than proven that. Associating cannabis with older folks and activities that young people don’t find interesting would produce a higher chance of a positive effect than drawing a line in the sand, giving full authority to men with guns to continue harassing adult citizens of a certain age when we know that outcome is not effective. If a person is responsible for their own bills and can serve in combat, then a social worker has no relevant opinion unless that social workers is paying those bills. These distractions are coming directly from the global fascism network that is now called conservatism.

    • Carnage

      I too don’t understand why it’s separate from alcohol which is 19. I’d like to see this study that “clearly demonstrates” these negative effects.

  • E. A. Becker

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  • hanscom

    Don’t really care. Once Canada goes legal it’s over for cannabis prohibition in the US.