I am providing constituents with the following paragraphs of a letter sent to the mayor of Vancouver from our federal minister of health:
“Marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine, and Health Canada does not endorse its use. There is serious health risks associated with smoking marijuana, especially for youth.
“That is why the government of Canada wants to stop youth from smoking marijuana. The evidence is clear that when youth smoke marijuana they have increased risks of developing mental health issues, including psychosis and schizophrenia. We also know that regular, long-term marijuana use in youth can harm concentration, memory, and the ability to think and to make decisions, and it can also produce paranoia and anxiety or nervousness.
“Legitimizing and normalizing the use and sale of marijuana can have only one effect: increasing marijuana use and addiction.
“Indeed, according to the Canadian Drug Use Monitoring Survey, although youth marijuana use has dropped by almost 45 per cent since 2004, 20 percent of youth smoked marijuana in 2012 compared to 70 per cent who drank alcohol. Legitimizing and normalizing marijuana could mean more than tripling its use by youth.
“While Canadian courts have required the government to allow access to marijuana when authorized by a physician, the law is clear that this must be done in a controlled fashion to protect public health and safety. In response to the courts, the government implemented the marijuana for medical purposes regulations in June of 2013, with the aim of treating dried marijuana as much as possible like other narcotics used for medical purposes.
“These regulations are clear and do not provide municipalities with the authority to legitimize the commercial sale of marijuana, which remains an illegal substance.
“Storefronts and dispensaries do not operate within a grey zone and the law is clear: they are illegal.”
The minister of health’s position is clear.
I have a problem understanding people in politics who tell us they are there for the public good, yet they put the public at risk for political points and to accommodate their lifestyle.
Surely there are better policy priorities for our youth.
Colin Mayes is Okanagan-Shuswap MP.