New Brunswick

19 is favoured legal age for pot use in presentations to N.B. committee

A minimum age for legal marijuana use in New Brunswick is still up in the air, although most speakers on the issue during recent provincewide hearings favoured 19.

Although most speakers on the issue preferred age 19, medical people recommended minimum age of 25

A select committee on cannabis says it will have a report for the public and New Brunswick government by Sept. 1. (Joe Mahoney/Canadian Press)

A minimum age for legal marijuana use in New Brunswick is still up in the air, although most speakers on the issue during recent provincewide hearings favoured 19.

In July, the select committee on cannabis travelled to seven cities to gather public's opinions and concerns before recreational marijuana is legalized next year. 

The committee, which finished the tour in Fredericton on Friday, was surprised by some of the comments, said Benoît Bourque, the chair.

"I would say the age of 19 did come out on top in terms of the number of people supporting the minimum legal age of 19," Bourque said.

This was in contrast to the medical professionals who, throughout the tour, clearly preferred a legal age of 25, even though they understood it would be difficult to enforce. Some groups recommended a minimum age of 21.

Benoit Bourque says it was useful to hear the many questions municipalities have about legalization. (CBC)

The committee of MLAs also heard the public's thoughts on how and where to distribute marijuana when it's legalized next July — whether it be a privatized system, sold through a Crown corporation, or through a hybrid of some sort.

Bourque said a majority of speakers appeared to support a Crown corporation model, pointing to  NB Liquor's sale of alcohol in stores across the province.

Positive feedback

To his surprise, Bourque said, comments were generally positive in terms of the legalization of marijuana.

"People were pretty much on board with the fact it's coming, let's deal with it," he said. "That was the overwhelming feeling we got from all the presentations."

He said the idea behind legalization is to get the drug out of the hands of children and the profits out of the hands of criminal organizations.

"This would help us in terms of ensuring proper quality of product and ensure proper control," he said. "Also to ensure, proceeds can go into educational programs."

What's next?

The committee will consider the information it gathered during the tour and will look at concerns and questions surrounding legalization. 

The committee will issue a final report by Sept. 1.

That report will also be made public and submitted to government and will help with the creation of legislation governing the sale and use of marijuana in New Brunswick.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton