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Statement on the new federal bill on recreational marijuana

While we appreciate the emphasis the new federal bill on recreational marijuana legalization has placed on protecting youth, we are disappointed the government has set the legal minimum age at 18 years. Though people may be legally recognized as adults on their 18th birthday, in medical terms their brain continues to develop until the age of 25. We believe marijuana should not be sold to those under 25 due to its effects on brain development. However, we also recognize that a minimum age of 21 would be more realistic, as this would balance young adult access with clinical brain development.

We appreciate the strict penalties the federal government has proposed for driving with an illegal level of drugs in the blood, and their renewed focused on tightening up existing impaired driving laws. We emphasize the importance of sufficient police training and tools to detect and deter impaired driving.

We note that the federal bill does not prevent provinces from allowing marijuana sales in the same place as alcohol. When legalized marijuana is eventually introduced to the New Brunswick market, we believe that NB Liquor should manage the sale of marijuana in the province. However, we also believe that marijuana and alcohol should not be sold in the same location.

As the New Brunswick government works to implement their own regulations following the federal legislation, we would welcome the opportunity to work with the government on this subject. Marijuana is an inherently harmful substance. Working together, we can develop legislation that puts health and safety – not profit – first.

Dr. Lynn Murphy-Kaulbeck, MD, MSC, FRCSC
President, New Brunswick Medical Society