Calgary teenagers might one day be able to buy marijuana, legally
Federal task force has recommended the age for use should be 18 once legalization becomes law
A task force appointed by the federal government to study marijuana legalization has come back with some recommendations, including that 18 be the legal age for use.
"I see high kids all the time, but I never see drunk kids, because you can't get booze. You don't get booze illegally imported, and you can't get it without that 18 or older," said grade 11 student Alexander Ross, standing near Queen Elizabeth High School in northwest Calgary.
The task force did recommend that provinces and territories should be allowed to set their own age restrictions.
Ross said it wouldn't make any sense to have the drinking age at 18 and the marijuana age at 21, arguing that would contribute to a black market servicing the age gap.
Jeff Mooij, the founder of the 420 Clinic in Inglewood which advises medical marijuana patients, is celebrating the release of the recommendations.
He said if the goal is to cut out crime, there's no point waiting until someone is in their 20s before they're allowed to buy pot.
"I think the recommended age of 18 is good. I think it'll be determined by the province, and how we distribute alcohol will be very similar to the legal age for marijuana," he said.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi doesn't agree with Mooij and Ross, saying he would prefer to see the age set at 21. That said, he's pleased to see some guidelines.
Small amounts to grow
One suggestion Nenshi is happy with is the possibility for individuals to grow up to four plants at home.
"Which was kind of the thing the city was looking for, to have small-scale growth in homes, but now we have to work on a lot of issues around zoning, building code, fire code, health code, for people who want to be doing that," he said.
"We also have a framework that we'll be working with the province on on where you can sell the stuff, whether you need to separate alcohol and marijuana, which I think is a good thing."
Mooij is likely eager to hear the results of those discussions. He said his goal is to open 16 dispensaries in southern Alberta when marijuana is legalized.
The federal government has pledged to table legalization legislation by spring 2017, but it could take much longer for the bill to become law.
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With files from Andrew Brown