'It has to be safe': P.E.I. officials working through federal recommendations to legalizing marijuana

P.E.I. officials are saying the recommended legal age by the federal task force for purchasing marijuana is too young.

P.E.I. officials say recommended age of 18 too young to purchase marijuana

The Canadian government has promised to table legislation until spring 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

P.E.I. officials are saying the recommended legal age by the federal task force for purchasing marijuana is too young. 

The task force appointed by the Canadian government released its report this week and it included 80 recommendations on the legalization of marijuana, including the legal age limit being set at 18 years of age or older.

However, P.E.I. officials said they feel 18 is too young to be purchasing marijuana products and would want to set it higher.

"From the Department of Health perspective one of the issues we are wrestling with is the recommendation that 18 year old individuals would have access to the product," said P.E.I. Health Minister Robert Henderson. "I'm not so certain we would agree to that."

The federal task force released its report with 80 recommendations on legalizing marijuana — including the legal minimum age to purchase be set to 18 and to sell it separately from alcohol and tobacco. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

"It might have some negative impacts from a health perspective at that young of an age." 

19 or older

Henderson said ideally the province would at least raise the limit to match the legal age for alcohol consumption.

Charlottetown Police Chief Paul Smith agreed.

"I would think at the end of the day 19, and in some areas possibly higher than that, the age of 19 for Prince Edward Island in all likelihood would be the end result," said Smith.

Marijuana sold separately

Henderson said he struggles with another recommendation — that if made legal, marijuana should not be sold alongside alcohol and tobacco.

"That means it's a whole new stand alone concept, and you know the cost of a smaller jurisdiction and being able to deliver it that way might be prohibitive," said Henderson.

Smith said ultimately he's encouraged by the task forces' flexibility on their recommendations. 

"I think at the end of the day what they have recognized is the ability and the right of provinces to set the limit," he said.

Henderson said whatever happens, it has to work for the unique climate of Prince Edward Island.

"It has to be cost effective, it has to have some continuity in it, it has to be safe."

The federal government has promised to table legislation on legalizing marijuana until spring 2017.