Legalizing Cannabis Could Help Youth

Experts told the Globe & Mail that legalizing cannabis would help young people using the drug, as open regulation is the only way to discuss its use.

University of British Columbia youth psychiatrist and clinical professor Elisabeth Baerg Hall said instructors would be able to talk with students, similarly to tobacco and alcohol, if cannabis was legalized.

“The reality now is I have many, many patients in my young adult population who are self-medicating with pot,” said Baerg Hall. “I try to say, ‘Okay, we all understand alcohol is a bit of a social lubricant, so you have a glass of wine, but has anyone ever said to you, ‘You’re anxious and depressed so you should take five glasses of alcohol a day?’ Nobody talks like that, and for a good reason,” she said.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, estimated 25 per cent of teens and young adults used cannabis in 2013, more than two and half times the percentage of adults over 25 years old that had used cannabis.

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto senior scientist Dr. Benedikt Fischer said as long as cannabis is illegal, youth in this country, who will continue to use the drug regardless, will have no official source of information on its effects.

“No teacher today can give any advice to young people about cannabis,” said Fischer. “If they say anything except, ‘It’s illegal, don’t do it,’ it could be interpreted as promoting drug use and the next day, they’re sued by parents.”

Earlier this year, a multi-million dollar anti-cannabis campaign from Health Canada that claimed smoking reduced the IQ of teens was rejected by medical organizations, who said it was a political message, not based in science.

Conservative party spokesman Stephen Lecce said the Conservative Party believes legalizing cannabis would have dangerous health effects, as the drug is harmful to all users and especially youth.

“Protecting kids from the very real mental-health risks of marijuana such as psychosis and even schizophrenia are paramount for our Conservative government,” Lecce said.

Experts refute that there is causality between cannabis use and mental health issues.