Don’t Legalize Marijuana for People Under 25, Drug-Rehab Centres Say

Article by Montreal Gazette

Don't legalize marijuana for people under 25, drug-rehab centres say

A network of drug-addiction rehabilitation centres says recreational marijuana use should not be legalized for Canadians under 25.

Portage, which offers treatment in Quebec, Ontario and Atlantic Canada, says it’s concerned by the federal government’s plan, announced Thursday, to legalize marijuana use.

The non-profit organization helps about 500 teenagers every year, most of whom are addicted to marijuana, said Portage spokesperson Seychelle Harding.

For the past 45 years, Portage has seen close up “the devastating effects that the abuse of marijuana has, mostly on this young clientele,” Harding said.

The federal government intends to set the minimum age for recreational pot purchase at age 18, but provinces and territories will be free to be more restrictive.

Portage staff are concerned about possible effects on brain development, which some experts believe continues until age 25.

Portage supports the Canadian Medical Association, which has called for control of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC; one of the main active ingredients in cannabis) up to age 25, to avoid mental health risks.

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