OTTAWA – With new legislation imminent in Canada, marijuana is a hot topic these days. Those who smoke it may be cheering. Those who’ve never tried it may be thinking, why not? And those looking to make a business out of it are grappling with how to navigate a challenging product.
But one of the most contentious aspects of legalization is age. A report by the Canadian Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, released in December 2016, recommends marijuana use be restricted to those 18 years old and older.
The need for age guidelines falls in line with a new study by James McIntosh, professor of economics in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Recently published in the journal Health, the findings show that young users report the most impact to their physical and mental health.
The article also shows that those who wait until the age of 21 to use the drug are unlikely to develop a lifelong habit.
Heightened risks for youth
For the study, McIntosh and his co-author Rawan Hassunah (BA 16) examined the results of three national surveys on tobacco, alcohol and drug use — two in Canada and one in the United States.
“We wanted to see what the effects of regular marijuana use were on self-reported physical and mental health,” McIntosh explains.
The report cites other studies demonstrating the negative impacts of marijuana. It’s the first, however, to look so closely at age of first use.
In terms of overall effects, the study confirmed that marijuana does affect people’s physical and mental health, that it will cause cognitive impairment, memory loss, diminished IQ, limited educational success and likelihood for developing mental illness. Physically, early users also…
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