Together with the support of Lift and the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP), CSSDP hosted a youth roundtable in Toronto on September 7, 2016, providing a platform for young people to contribute input to the Task Force for Marijuana Regulation and Legalization on what sensible drug policy should look like. Today, we’re proud to report the findings of “Youth Speak: Cannabis Legalization in the 21st Century.”
Over 21 youth aged 18-29 years old, with diverse backgrounds both within and outside of the current cannabis industry, came together to discuss and provide insights to what the end of prohibition should look like. We broke up into groups to examine and unpack four key topics that affect youth and produced ten main recommendations from our discussions which will be officially presented to the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation this Friday September 23, 2016, by our Strategic Advisors and past board members, Jenna Valleriani and Nazlee Maghsoudi. One of our most important findings? Attendees reinforced the idea that science-based, factual education and harm reduction awareness is the most effective way to “protect youth”. From what we’ve heard, it sounds like youth know sensible drug policy, but will our politicians listen?
Here are the core recommendations from the outcome document:
- Age restrictions around cannabis access should be as low as possible, with the recommendation of not exceeding legal drinking ages across provinces.
- Medical access to cannabis should remain a separate system without age restrictions, but should require physician support.
- Youth offenses outside the regulated system should be decriminalized. Criminal sanctions should be replaced with alternatives such as mandatory education, fines, and/or community service.
- Past youth criminal records for simple possession and sale of cannabis should be expunged.
- Cannabis education should prioritize the development of youth’s “cannabis literacy” by including evidence-based assessment of risks, harm reduction principles, and not passing judgment on use.
- Cannabis education should start as early as possible with age-appropriate content, be created with the input of youth and young people, including those who use cannabis, and delivered by a trained facilitator or peer.
- Home cultivation of cannabis should be permitted under the new regulatory regime.
- Cannabis should not be distributed alongside alcohol, as this would likely exacerbate public health concerns associated with polydrug use.
- Distribution of cannabis should include the provision of cannabis education to patrons
- People with past non-violent cannabis-related charges should be permitted to participate in, and benefit from, the new legal market for cannabis.
We want to extend special thanks to Dr. Catherine Zahn from the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation, Daphne Jurgens, the Senior Advisor for The Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat, as well as the Honourable MP Adam Vaughan and Honourable MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith for joining us in discussing upcoming laws that disproportionately affect youth and for giving young people a chance to be heard. Additionally, we could not have done it without the generous support of Lift and the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy for their assistance with content and facilitation.
You can see the press release on our findings here. Make sure to check out our other blogs on cannabis legalization and please sign our petition to the City of Toronto to stop criminalizing dispensary workers.
A doctoral candidate in Sociology and the Collaborative Addiction Studies at the University of Toronto, Jenna was on the CSSDP board of directors from November 2013, acted as Conference Chair for CSSDP's 2015 conference, was CSSDP representative on the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition steering committee, and volunteers with NORML Canada. Find out more.