Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie says the McNeil Government’s plan to sell legalized cannabis at NSLC outlets, to customers as young as 19-years-old is wrong.
“Adolescent mental health is one of the greatest healthcare challenges of our time” says Baillie. “The recently announced plans for retailing cannabis in Nova Scotia are a serious step backward in protecting young Nova Scotians.”
Baillie points specifically to the decisions to legally sell cannabis to people, as young as, 19 and to co-locate cannabis sales with alcohol by insisting that it be sold in existing NSLC stores.
Just about every medical association in the country says 19 is too young. Most say 21 is the earliest safe age and some even say 25 is the end of adolescence. Baillie says it is unconscionable to ignore the overwhelming medical evidence and choose a younger age.
In addition, addiction experts warn against co-locating alcohol and cannabis, due to the risk of cross-over sales. Several provinces have resisted the urge to sell cannabis out of their own liquor stores for this very reason.
“I am disappointed that the McNeil government took the easy way out by selecting the NSLC and I am worried about the detrimental effect this move will have on youth mental health and addiction risks,” says Baillie.
A PC Government would follow the medical evidence and set the legal age at 21. We would also insist on stand-alone stores to retail cannabis, and resist the easy default of giving this new product to the NSLC.
Baillie asks why government resources are going to be spent upgrading NSLC stores to handle cannabis, when the need for investment in upgrades to schools and hospitals is so urgent. Baillie says it is unfortunate that the McNeil Government didn’t even look at private sector options, which could invest their own money building the required standalone stores, and be carefully regulated and taxed accordingly.
“Overall, I am shocked at the lack of vision and foresight by the McNeil government on this important issue, and worried that they ignored the best medical evidence available,” says Baillie