The Canadian Paediatric Society is urging the federal government to take steps to protect children and youth should it follow through on its plan to legalize recreational marijuana next year.
In a position statement released Thursday, the CPS is recommending there be an age restriction for the purchase of pot and that the ingredient in cannabis that causes people to get high be restricted in products sold to young people.
“We want to ensure that sales of cannabis products are prohibited to all youth under the legal age for buying tobacco and alcohol, so 18 or 19, depending on their location in Canada,” said Dr. Christine Grant, an adolescent medicine specialist at McMaster University who co-authored the CPS position paper.
“And importantly, we want the government to strongly consider limiting the concentration of THC in cannabis that 18- to 25-year-olds can purchase legally.”
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive component of marijuana.
“Young adults frequently experiment with marijuana,” she said. “By aligning the legal age for cannabis use with that for other legally controlled substances, young adults will have access to a regulated product, with a known potency. They’ll also be less likely to engage in high-risk illegal activities to access cannabis.”
Grant said there are many risks for young people associated with the recreational use of marijuana, including deleterious effects on the developing brain.
“We know that our brains develop well into our 20s and also from science that cannabis has an effect both structurally and functionally on our brains and that when our brains are developing we’re most vulnerable,” Grant said Wednesday from Hamilton.
“So by limiting concentrations of THC up until 25, we’re hoping we can mitigate some of the risks.”