NationalOpinion

Legal age to buy marijuana should be higher than alcohol and tobacco

I grew up in Alberta, and my 18th birthday was a distinct marker in my life: finally, I could buy a pack of cigarettes and a case of beer without pestering someone of age to “boot” for me.

Purchasing tobacco and alcohol on my birthday was part of a larger checklist of legal villainous objectives. Now I’m 29 and have read the government’s discussion paper on the legalization, restriction, and access to marijuana. I considered my own history with substances and the current deliberations. The problem I realized when I read the paper on marijuana is that a lot of the considerations are hinged to the existing laws and practices of the sale of alcohol and tobacco.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) responded to the pending legalization, restriction, and access to marijuana. Their suggestions recommend that marijuana cannot be legally purchased and consumed until age 21 with restrictions on the quantity and potency of the narcotic until age 25. It’s a good decision — the age to purchase and consume marijuana to be higher than the restrictions already in place for sale and consumption of alcohol and tobacco.

I don’t want any of Canada’s fresh batch of 18 or 19-year-olds to arrive at that age where he or she can legally toke, smoke, and drink all on the same day for the first time. Marijuana is a different monster than alcohol and tobacco. A bowl, a drag, or a shot each alter the mind in different ways from another. Any Canadian teen can ignore the studies, the documents, and the realities that law enforcement officers, political leaders, and medical doctors lay before us. Setting the legal age for the purchase and consumption of marijuana to a higher age than the purchase of alcohol and tobacco will provoke Canada’s youth to consider why smoking and drinking is unlike hits from the bong.

It’s too late for alcohol and tobacco: the two can quite literally go hand in hand. And my own history has forever united the use of both of those substances into a single action. Marijuana can still be distinguished from alcohol and tobacco by setting the legal age to purchase and consume marijuana to something different.

But another question arises: should the legal age to buy and consume marijuana be the same or different between the provinces? The Alberta government (if provided with the opportunity) could set the age to be anything higher than 18 and please me. I don’t hold many reservations for what the age should be in Ontario or Saskatchewan; however, it better be set to something higher than the ages required to buy whiskey and cigars in those provinces.

I wasn’t reading medical studies, discussion papers, or even a newspaper when I was 18. At that age, I kept my identification in the most convenient slot in my wallet and tried to say out the overdraft when I rabble-roused on the weekends. My 18th birthday conjoined two sinful habits and in hindsight (bias included), I would have rolled up marijuana as well to create a trifecta of intoxicates and madness — providing it was all legal for me to do so on the same day.

14 Comments

  1. The best part about this is how butt hurt everyone is getting over an OPINION piece.
    For what I assume to be a bunch of pot enthusiasts you sure are rather angry.
    Just gotta chill out, man!

  2. I live in B.C. one can work at 14 start to drive at 16. Good ages for both those things. At 18 you can do those two things and go to war and vote. At 19 you can do those things and gamble, smoke and drink. That gives me pause why can we go to war and did for our country at 18 but not drink or smoke? Isnt being in the military more dangerous? Why are they not the same age? Marijuana from what I can understand is still better for you so long as you get the clean stuff not laced or cut with anything then going to war, smoking, and alchol. Its certianly not worse. Itd make even less sense to make it a diffrent age.

  3. i would let them have it. you can not stop them. let them destroy their own life. anyhow they do not have any value for the good of the society.

  4. Well Mr. Jonah Kondro, looks like everyone in the comment section thinks you are wrong. Considering that weed is much safer than smokes or booze, you obviously have done zero research and it shows.

  5. So Jonah, you would have rolled up marijuana as well to create a trifecta of intoxicates and madness — providing it was all legal for you to do so on the same day – even though prior to your 18th birthday you pestered people of age to “boot” for you (that is buy a pack of cigarettes and a case of beer for you).

    Bullshit!

    Considering that by 2005, at the age of 18, you hadn’t tried cannabis, even though you had no problem consuming both “booted” alcohol or tobacco prior to your 18th birthday, implies you consciously opted to avoid marijuana. Or are you going to next insist marijuana was unknown in your cloistered neck of the woods in Alberta as well?

    So, all you’re doing, Jonah, is projecting nonsense as a cover for a long-standing bias you harbour concerning cannabis (marijuana). Even funnier, though, is that you’ve effectively shot any credibility you might have had in the foot and you either weren’t even aware of it, too juiced to give a shit, or you figured it wouldn’t get noticed.

    Marijuana is a different monster . . . sticky icky, the devil’s lettuce . . . right. That’s rich coming from someone that can’t even formulate a plausible rationale to substantiate a personal bias.

  6. How about we raise the limit for the more dangerous substances, like alcohol and tobacco, and lower the limit for the safer choice, cannabis? Or better yet, how about we stop treating adult Canadians like children and let them make their own choices. At the age of 19 you can drink alcohol, drive a car, join the army, vote and have kids of your own, but it will be a crime if you try to buy a gram of bud? Get real, this is nonsensical.

  7. Another uneducated writer thinking he knows something. It would be better if we set the age for pot at the same age as alcohol and cigarettes. That way kids turning 18 or 19 (depending on province) have a real choice as to what vice they choose to use. Keeping the age higher will still have 18/19 year olds wrapping their cars around some convenient unmovable object, killing themselves and their passengers. Plus everyone knows that the true gateway substance to bigger and harder drugs is alcohol.

    As for this aspect of harm. Who here has actually read the studies?………..anyone? I have. Those results are full of mights, shoulds and coulds. They have noticed changes in structure. Yup! ok! But they don’t know if it causes harm. Siblings close in age and twins have already been studied as teens. No drop in IQ was found. No difference in recall, or processing was observed. All they have is structural changes. The brain is a biological computer its processing ability depends on optimised nerve function. Now what do we have that optimizes and protects nerves……wait, wait don’t tell me…..oh yah! Cannabis!.

    “But its bad for you at that age. You get high!!”. The evil in pot? You get high? That’s what all this fuss is about! “Don’t get high, high is bad”. But coffee is from a “grocery store” and how many of us have had the coffee jitters or been unable to sleep, so we can go to our dangerous jobs in the morning because a late night coffee shop was opened.

    How many kids are addicted to caffeine as toddlers because “Oh a little pop won’t hurt”. Caffeine actually kills people. ” but he really likes these donuts” sure thing! get them for little Johnny. Put white sugar and white flour in a human and shake vigorously. What do you get? A heart attack!

    Now the real question. How many cannabis smokers out there started smoking at a young age (early to mid teens), have good jobs and support a household and/or hold high level positions in corporations and hold many responsibilities that the people under you depend on. Think Steve Jobs and any other high end earner that has already stated that “yes I smoke cannabis.

    This whole fiasco that is circling around cannabis at the moment, is designed to perpetuate a more updated version of Reefer Madness.

    Its like the so called experts (who most likely have family that smokes up or have friends that have been smoking weed since their youth or even themselves have been smoking since a tender age) are saying “We understand that you have years upon years of experience but we now want you to believe that its harmful”. How absolutely ridiculous.

  8. Another doctor to add to the roster of docs for pot. “Juan Sanchez-Ramos, MD, PhD, a professor of molecular pharmacology and physiology at the University of South Florida, is optimistic, noting that early laboratory studies have identified cannabinoids which, by virtue of their neuroprotective and anti-oxidative actions, have the potential to “slow the onset and progression of neurodegenerative conditions.””

  9. A child of 12 can got to the pharmacies and buy medications that will kill them. No reported death from cannabis in recorded history. Not One. A child can be sent to war, Officers training as young as 16 Can make the choice of which parent to go with, In the event of that families break up. We in the past, ” most of us ” just went along with what we were told, Without question. Then there were those that did ask, And when the right question were asked, it was revealed that our government lied to us all along about Cannabis/Marijuana. And, they continued even when the evidence proved otherwise. Truly you do not trust all the botched university studies, both here in Canada and the United States.
    I for one do not believe the lies, my eyes are open and i can see that the government wants total complete control of this plant, Its use and distributions.

  10. That sure is some backward stinking thinking sister. Alcohol kills how many daily? How many death from cannabis? Mixing of any stimulants or mind altering substances is not a good practise. This can be taught with education and information on the subject. Furthering the prohibitionist views and the perpetrated of their unlawful laws based on little or no honest studies.

  11. The 14 year old (Sept. 2002) Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs:
    “Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy.” recommended 16 years old
    age limit for cannabis consumption. Decades of evidence clearly show alcohol
    damaging so much more then just human brains and bodies.
    Recreational sport type
    activity injuries are almost 50% of all youth visits to the emergency room. Add
    the concussion evidence in sports that was denied for decades until recently.
    What about the deaths due to alcohol and recreational and sport type activities.
    The evidence has clearly shown cannabis is far saver then alcohol, tobacco and
    everyday sporting activities.
    Top that off with the medical evidence showing cannabis
    has helped children suffering from fatal forms of epilepsy and improved
    their quality of life and even their survival Cannabis has proven to have several positive
    medical qualities for our human bodies and even our beloved pets.

  12. So how exactly is cannabis worse than alcohol or tobacco? You insist that it is a
    “different monster altogether” but you don’t provide any evidence.

    “Any Canadian teen can ignore the studies, the documents, and the realities that law enforcement officers, political leaders, and medical doctors lay before us.” What are you referring to here? Medical studies indicate that cannabis is far safer than either of them. The only reason doctors have recommended a legal age of 21 is because of brain maturation, the human brain isn’t fully developed until an individual reaches their mid-twenties. I guarantee you that they would have the same to say about the two other vices if they had the opportunity to.

    In fact the MOE for cannabis is much lower than alcohol OR tobacco.
    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep08126?message-global=remove&__tw_private=1405483513

    And here is a comparative review on relative harm.
    http://www.livescience.com/42738-marijuana-vs-alcohol-health-effects.html

    Get real.

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