Part Five: The Debate over Age Requirements
One of the statistics most readily cited as a reason for the the need to legalize cannabis is that the United Nations Children’s Fund study found that Canadian adolescents have the highest rate of cannabis use among 29 advanced economies in the world. Conservative Senators have pointed out that it is unclear what data this study used to assert this conclusion, but the concern for youth has been clearly articulated as a priority and underlying concern for Bill C-45. This was also emphasized heavily in the task force recommendations.
However, the age at which one can purchase, possess and grow cannabis has raised a great deal of controversy. The federal government set a minimum age of 18 for possession and growth of cannabis. Most of the provinces have set the minimum age at 19 (with the exception of Alberta and Quebec, which have set the minimum age at 18) in order for alignment with laws around alcohol.
Health officials and researchers were strongly advocating for a minimum age of 21 or higher. Public health officials reported that information gleaned from experience regulating tobacco and alcohol, as well as from jurisdictions in the...Read more