Doctors release advice on marijuana legalisation to government

New Brunswick’s doctors have issued a comprehensive series of recommendations to government, which aim to minimise the harm to the public from the coming legalisation of marijuana.

“Many New Brunswickers will welcome the advent of the legalisation of marijuana, but doctors believe there is a lot of work to do before that occurs,” Dr Lynn Murphy-Kaulbeck, President of the Medical Society, explained. “It’s inherently a harmful substance and we need to talk about how we can minimise the harm caused by its use through strict provincial regulation.”

The document outlines the need for a broad, comprehensive series of measures which would reduce the harms from marijuana. Over a dozen recommendations focus on where and how it is sold, testing for impaired drivers, carefully conducting public discourse about marijuana’s economic impact, education campaigns directed at youth, the age of legal purchase, and more.

“Doctors believe it should not be sold to anyone under the age of 21, as the brain is still actively developing until the age of 25, especially in men,” said Dr. Murphy-Kaulbeck, who believes marijuana is routinely underestimated as a harmful substance. “I see young mothers every day who seem unconcerned about using marijuana while pregnant or breastfeeding. The science is clear – there’s more to marijuana than many New Brunswickers think.”

The Society is releasing the document in advance of public hearings and the publication of a draft regulatory framework where the government is expected to outline its proposed approach to tough questions, like the age of legal access and where it would be sold.

“There will be many in society impacted by the legalisation of marijuana who will not consume it themselves,” said Dr. Murphy-Kaulbeck. “Teachers will be involved as we better educate youth, the police will need more help with conducting roadside impairment tests, and doctors will need to work harder to explain the health risks. There will need to be so many New Brunswickers involved and the work needs to ramp up, quickly.”

Doctors across the province have contributed to the paper’s fourteen recommendations, which are available publicly on the Medical Society’s website.

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Founded in 1867, the New Brunswick Medical Society is the professional association representing all physicians in New Brunswick. Its twin goals are to represent and serve physicians, and advocate for the health of New Brunswickers.