Canadian teens thoughts on pot unchanged after legalization news

Government officials announced Thursday that cannabis would be made legal for recreational use by July 2018

Some teens say their likelihood of using weed hasn’t changed since the Liberal government announced details of its legalization plan – though they say it’s made them more aware of information on both sides of the debate.

Government officials announced Thursday that cannabis would be made legal for recreational use by July 2018, and those aged 18 and over will be able to buy and grow a small amount of the drug for themselves.

But even as marijuana becomes more mainstream, several teens said their opinions about the drug have remained the same.

Julio Gonzales, 19, said he enjoys using marijuana in moderation, and he doesn’t expect that to change — even smoking pot feels less rebellious than it once did.

He said that in school, he was taught that marijuana was dangerous.

“They kind of classified it with a lot harder drugs like LSD or cocaine, you know? So there was always that kind of ‘villain-y’ look at it. It being really bad for you,” he said. He expects that the curriculum might change a bit, but he said he thinks teachers will still advise against teens using the drug.

He said he knows there have been studies that suggest marijuana use in teenagers can be harmful, so he’s in favour of legislation that restricts minors from smoking.

“I guess it’s also kind of hypocritical of me,” he said, adding that he smokes because he finds that it helps him concentrate on schoolwork.

Ellie Labbancz, who will be 14 next month, said the news of legalization hasn’t changed her thoughts about pot either: she is still staunchly against it.

She said she understands some of the positive arguments for access to marijuana, including that it could reduce drug trafficking and crime.

But overall, she said people could still abuse the drug, and that doesn’t sit right with her. She’s worried about the negative health effects, especially on young people’s brains.

Canadian Psychiatric Association President Dr. Renuka Prasad said in a statement put out on Thursday that early and regular cannabis use can affect memory, attention, intelligence and the ability to process thoughts. He said it can also add to the risk of mental health issues among people who are already vulnerable.

The CPA position statement on marijuana cites studies that suggest marijuana can interfere with the maturing process the brain goes through in adolescence. It recommended an age limit of 21, as well as quantity and potency limits for those under 25.

Todd Goncalvez, 18, said his opinion hasn’t changed in light of the legalization promise, and it’s not likely to make a difference in opinion – or frequency of use – among his peers.

“I don’t see how legalizing weed will make much of a difference in terms of limiting access to those under the legal age, since it’s already so widely available to kids as young as Grade 8 or 9,” he said.

During the legislation announcement Thursday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale noted that Canadian teenagers are “among the heaviest users in the western world.”

The Canadian Tobacco Alcohol and Drugs survey in 2015 – the most recently available data from Statistics Canada – suggests that 20.6 per cent of Canadians between ages 15 and 19 had used pot in the past year. Nearly 29 per cent of people in that age group had tried it at some point in their life.

But in spite of the new legislation, Goncalvez said he thinks people are more likely to look at marijuana they way they look at cigarettes.

“Just like alcohol and cigarettes are legal and considered mainstream, weed will still be considered a ‘cool’ thing to do,” he said.

@ColeyT

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

VIDEO: 5X Festival takes over Surrey’s Central City plaza

Second annual event draws thousands of people throughout the day

VIDEO: Plane makes forced landing on Highway 17 in Surrey

Police say no one was injured and no damage to aircraft or vehicles

City shifts proposed transit station to King George after cancellation of LRT

Council to consider Newton Town Centre plan in fall

Nearly 200 motorcycles take off from Cloverdale for Brenden’s Ride

Annual fundraiser supports programs that empower people with disabilities

Charges of assault with a weapon and uttering threats approved against Delta man

Wyatt James Culbertson, 38, faces nine charges stemming from events that took place March 17 and 30

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Pride flag taken down by Township of Langley

Woman said she was told it was removed from her front yard because of a complaint

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read