Quebec Raises Legal Age for Cannabis To 21

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In the past year, young adults aged 18-20 could legally purchase and consume cannabis in Quebec.However, the provincial Quebec government has recently passed a bill changing the legal age to use marijuana. Everyone now has to wait until they turn 21 to legally purchase pot. Critics say thismove would only drive black market sales.

It can be recalled that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had previously criticized the Quebec government's plan to raise the legal age for smoking cannabis to 21, noting that it could leave an opening for organized crime. He claimed this move could undermine one of the federal law's key aims which is to eliminate the black market.

The federal law stipulates that the minimum age at which an individual could legally purchase marijuana is at 18, the law, however, allows provinces and territories to settheir own rules.

In all provinces and territories, the legal age is set at 18 or 19, except for Quebec where the Coalition Avenir government adopted Bill 2, which raises the legal age for cannabis consumption from 18 to 21 as of Jan. 1, 2020. It will become the highest legal age for cannabis use in the country, states a report on CTV.

According to Quebec’s Junior Health Minister Lionel Carmant, who tabled the bill, raising the age limit on Cannabis use would protect young, developing brains from the risks associated with cannabis use. However, critics do not agree.

Francois Limoges, a spokesperson for the Quebec Cannabis Industry Association (QCIA), quoted on CTV, said the main problem with increasing the legal age to 21 is that it will only drive young consumers, aged 18-20, into purchasing from the black market.

“We are as an industry totally disappointed by the government's decision,” he told CTVNews.

“You're pretty much telling the younger generation that you wanna protect, well, ‘go back to your dealers’ -- or ‘find a dealer’ -- because they've been buying legal cannabis for the last 12 months and as we know, when you're a younger adult you're not going to wait (to turn 21),” Limoges said. With this move, it will “be hard to bring them into the legal market,” once they have reached the new legal age, he added.

The association of Public Health in Quebec, also criticized the bill, the association’s spokesperson Marianne Dessureault saying it lacks a scientific basis.

“We are going ahead and maybe transforming a law that sought to protect public health, towards a law that has more of a political flavour.”She said the bill had a "populist appeal,” which “doesn’t have (a) place in public health policy."

Surprisingly, Quebec is one of the provinces with the lowest legal ages for alcohol consumption in the country, while the age is set at 18 in most provinces, Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta setthe legal age for the purchase of alcohol at 18. There is no move in Quebec, to protect “young brains” from the adverse effects of alcohol”

Limoges thinks there is a stigma around cannabis that makes the public view it differently than alcohol.