What Legalized Marijuana Means for Canada

What Legalized Marijuana Means for Canada

If you’ve browsed through social media lately, you’re probably aware that Canada plans to legalize marijuana soon. People have had a variety of reactions to this news, some positive, some not. As an interventionist who provides drug and alcohol addiction counselling and a former addict myself, I admit to being conflicted on the subject. That said, it’s likely to happen either way so it’s important to stay informed, educate ourselves and find positive aspects in what the government is proposing so far.

Limiting Access to Teens

The rules being put into place have a strong focus on protecting youth. Critics feel the proposed legal age limit of 18 seems low considering studies have shown that early marijuana use can have significant impacts on the brains of teens. Experts had recommended an age limit of 25, but with teenagers in Canada using cannabis at a higher rate than anywhere else in the developed world, the government decided a lower age limit would be a better way to keep them safer. In a previous blog, I discussed the rising rates of prescription drug use in Canadian teens, which just goes to show you that if young people want to use a drug, they’ll find a way to get their hands on it. I think it’s a positive sign that, rather than pretending there isn’t a problem in that age group, the government is acknowledging the issue and taking steps to deal with it. By regulating the sale and marketing of marijuana in a manner similar to cigarettes, we might even see a decline in youth cannabis use the same way smoking rates declined for teens in the early 2000’s.

You Know What You’re Getting

The pot our parents smoked in the 70’s was nowhere near as strong as what’s available now. Studies have shown that from 1995 to 2014, the average levels of THC — the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — rose from 4 percent to 12 percent. In some strains of marijuana, the THC levels are as high as 36%. Growers want to gain more customers and increasing the potency of their product is one way to do that. However, this can be dangerous as it can exacerbate paranoia and panic attacks in users. With legalized marijuana being taxed, regulated, and distributed by the government, there’d be full disclosure on the strength of the product and standards as to how it’s been processed.

The legalization of marijuana in Canada is a highly controversial subject and this article isn’t me coming out for or against it. These are merely two aspects of the upcoming legislation that I felt were positive steps in the right direction. What I really want is for people to be safe. If legalizing marijuana can help avoid teens from developing an addiction or prevent someone from being hurt (or worse) while high, I think it’s good to keep an open mind. But let’s not forget that marijuana is still a drug, and like alcohol and tobacco, addiction can happen no matter how many regulations there are. If it does, our team of professional drug and alcohol interventionists can help your family find the right treatment center to meet yours or your loved one’s needs. Contact us to get help.

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