Task Force Report Problems: Deciding on the Age of Consent for Pot Use

In 1917, the Canadian government drafted all young men aged between 20 and 40 into the ironically named War to End All Wars.

Later, to fight Hitler, an unintended consequence of the First World War, this age requirement dropped to 18.

Back in the Middle Ages, many Europeans considered 21 to be adulthood. The United States government agrees with them on this when it comes to boozing.

In Canada, we apparently acknowledge “the right of provinces and territories” to set minimum ages for purchasing alcohol. And so it is recommended the federal government follow suit with cannabis and 18-year-olds be allowed to grow up to four plants or choose to go into commercial production.

How will governments balance the busy-body naysayers with the rights of 18-year-olds who want to grow pot?

And what about these 18-year-olds?

Every culture has its own “coming of age” and when you’re 18, by most accounts, you’ve completed post-secondary schooling.

The ages 18, 19, or 21 are more or less arbitrary. A lot of 18-year-olds are not yet adults, but most 21-year-olds are well on their way.

Adulthood is a byproduct of what people believe. A state declaration is a form of magic.

Individual values, influenced by family, community, social media or whatever presuppose some moral and cultural belief system.

Canadians, after post-secondary schooling, are often encouraged by this belief system to study in another form of schooling or trade. This higher realm of education imposes finances costs on them personally. Banks and governments help finance this.

But these market interventions have resulted in higher prices for post-secondary schooling, young people graduate with larger and larger debt burdens.

At a time when they should be taking entrepreneurial risks, they are paying for an education which may or may not have gotten them meaningful employment.

Free markets offer a way out, hence why it’s crucial cannabis legalization frees the market, not hinder it.

Anyone can refine cannabis to use as a medical sacrament or farm hemp for its innovative and endless industrial purposes. If the regulatory regime harms young people, it will be by burdening entrepreneurs.

At a time when meaningful employment is scarce, when unsustainable government jobs wreak havoc on taxpayers, as corporate bureaucracy is thinned out and automated, government must not unduly harm entrepreneurs, especially young entrepreneurs.

But the system is already set against them.

The tax burden is too large and too complicated. Capital built up in the late 19th century was squandered by a 20th-century warfare-welfare state.

Markets trudge along, but democratic states permit us to live at the expense of another.

Moral relativism has penetrated the minds of an unsuspecting government-educated population.

When the central bank simply adds numbers to the balance sheet of whatever bank it wants to credit, without debiting itself first, the costs of everything rises.

But one hundred years ago, and then again seventy-seven years ago, this brave new world was worth fighting for.

If the brain isn’t fully developed until 25, how can we justify sending 18 to 24-year-olds overseas?

What about signing students loans? Are 18-year-olds smart enough to understand the long-term consequences?

And smoking cannabis?

Perhaps one is never an adult. Perhaps Canadians belong to a tribal family and the government is its parent.

Perhaps young people growing and smoking cannabis will change their belief system about this, about taxes, and about the appropriate amount of government authority in a free society.