Experts in criminology and public health are joining forces to urge the Legault government to listen to their opinions and not to touch on the cannabis law.
Prime Minister François Legault reiterated Wednesday that he wanted to raise the legal age of cannabis use to 21 years and ban the substance in all public places.
But at least nine experts, some of the Public Health Directorates, believe that the government is wrong and publish Thursday a letter to demystify some popular ideas among the population and the CAQ.
“We understand that public opinion is in line with the CAQ but it takes courage and admit that these are not the best measures to protect the health of young people and it even goes against this desire, says Émilie Dansereau-Trahan, spokesperson for the Quebec Public Health Association.
Experts believe that increasing the age to 21 will not protect young people.
“These young people […] will be denied access to controlled products (free of toxic fertilizers), low THC products, products containing CBD (possibly protective), prevention activities and safer consumer advice provided, among others, by trained SQDC employees, “reads the letter.
Isabelle Samson, president of the Association of Specialists in Preventive Medicine in Quebec (ASMPQ) proposes instead to establish a limit on the rate of cannabis sold to young people under 25 years.
It also notes an inconsistency in the messages sent to the youth. “I’m afraid that by putting a limit on 21 years, we come to say that cannabis is worse than tobacco and alcohol that are available at 18 years. But this is not true! It can create misinformation, “she says.
Low risk of psychosis
In order to raise the age limit for cannabis use, the CAQ relies in particular on data from the Quebec Association of Psychiatrists (AMPQ) that cannabis use increases the risk of psychosis by 40%.
“A psychosis is serious, but the risk that is 1 to 3% in the general population increases from 1.4 to 4.2% if you consume cannabis, nuance Ms. Dansereau-Trahan.
“It’s very weak,” says Samson.
Finally on the prohibition of consumption in public places, experts recall that it forces people to smoke in an enclosed space which poses a health risk, unlike an exhibition in an open space such as sidewalks.
“Young people who are big consumers are rarely owners. That would be against the spirit of the law. Young people and the most vulnerable remain in the courts, “says Samson.
“The majority of people, 85% of the population, do not consume and the decisions of the CAQ are for their pleasure,” she continues. I understand that politicians have to consider them. But the idea behind legalization is not for non-consumers, but to help consumers. By keeping the taboos, we do not help them. “
The expert group will also organize the sending of letters of citizens to Lionel Carmant, Minister Delegate for Health responsible for cannabis, to ask him to backtrack.