[Executive exclusion the youth in Bill C-45 because

Executive Summary

Bill
C-45 is a new legislation that is going to be passed in July 2018 by the
Canadian government.1 This law legalizes the possession, growing and
consumption of cannabis for those who are strictly 18 years of age and older.1
Under the Cannabis Act, the processing and distribution must be licensed by
Health Canada. The purpose of this act is to deter and reduce criminal
activity, enhance public awareness of the health risks, and restrict youth
access, as well as many other claims. The after-effect of this legislation is
to determine whether or not Bill C-45 should expand for youth under the age of
18. To reinforce the purpose of the original Bill C-45, they should be excluded
from the Bill to protect the youth in our society. Exposing and making Cannabis
available to youth can have adverse effects upon the adolescent brain and increase
dependency of the drug.

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Scope of Problem

For
the upcoming Bill C-24, it is the federal government’s responsibilities to set
industry-wide rules and standards and set strict requirements for producers.1
Whereas, the responsibilities of the provinces and territories are to license
and over see the distribution and sale of cannabis.1 However, it is
up to each province to determine the age restriction. Determining the age
restriction is important when legalizing the drug because it will affect the
physical, psychological and social well being of youth who are under the ages
of 18 and the community around them. There is an urgency of determining the
inclusion or exclusion the youth in Bill C-45 because the legalization of the
Bill is promptly approaching.

 

Policy Alternatives

Proponents
of legalization may claim that with the age restriction of 18+ it may force
youth users to obtain cannabis from the black market where it is unregulated
and high potency.2 However, according to Cannabis act, only the
possession of 30 grams of cannabis is regulated, not the potency of the
cannabis itself.1 As a result, discarding the age requirement would
not protect the youth, but rather expose them to the drug without consequences.

Proponents also claim that it is a benign substance, with low rates of
dependence and physical or behavioural effects so it is reasonable to legalize
it to youth.3 However, research continues to accumulate on its
potential negative effects on brain development and cognitive effects on
short-term memory and learning. In longitudinal study, participants who used
cannabis heavily in their teens and continued through adulthood showed an
average of eight points drop in IQ between the ages of 13-38.4 Legalizing
to youth may lead them to believe that cannabis is a safe. With the
legalization, access will be more widespread and that there would be more
efforts to target youth through marketing. A national study of 6116 high school
seniors, found that 10% of nonusers said they would try cannabis if the drug were
legal.4 Significantly, this included non-cigarette smokers, those
with strong religious affiliation, and those with peers who frown upon drug
use. Among high school seniors already using, 18% said they would use more
under legalization.4 Cannabis remains classified as a schedule I
drug, which implies that it has a high potential for abuse.4 The
earlier the adolescent initiates substance use, the more likely substance
dependency or addiction is to occur.

 

Policy Recommendations

The legalization of
cannabis to youth who are 18 and younger should not be put to place due to all
the negative effects it can have on the youth. According to the Canadian
Medical Association, the human brain matures until about the age of 25.2
With this in mind, the recommendation that minimum age of purchase and
consumption of cannabis is 21 years. 

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