You can buy beer legally in Saskatchewan at 19, but doctors in the province want to see the legal age for pot set at 21.
The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) is warning overuse of marijuana in young people can hurt brain development, which can continue well into their mid-20s.
SMA president, Dr. Joanne Sivertson, admits the amount of research available on the effects of marijuana is limited because it is still illegal. However, she said doctors do have evidence to show negative impacts of marijuana on brain development.
“Particularly the risk of addictions is higher the younger that people start to use marijuana and we also see that there are potential mental health issues in people who use it, the younger they use it,” Sivertson explained.
The SMA is recommending the legal age of 21 as a compromise to strike a balance between the risks it poses to brain development with the risk of young people being targeted by illegal dealers.
Manitoba’s legal age will be 19 while Alberta’s legal age limit will be set at 18.
“We’d hope that Saskatchewan is willing to be a positive outlier and that we can set a standard, set an example across Canada,” Sivertson said.
The professional organization, which represents physicians, medical students and residents across the province, sent a letter to the government outlining the position on the legal age limit.
Saskatchewan has yet to release a full plan for recreational marijuana, instead only revealing the SLGA will regulate sales through private retailers.