The Thorpe Recovery Centre in Blackfoot is preparing for a possible increase of addiction problems once marijuana becomes legal in Canada.
The Saskatchewan Government released their cannabis framework Wednesday stating that the legal age to consume marijuana will be 19 years old, among other things. Clinical Director of the Thorpe Recovery Centre Suzie LeBrocq says that there are mental health concerns when it comes to smoking marijuana at a young age.
“The adolescent brain doesn’t develop until it’s 25, but people will be able to buy marijuana from the age of 18 and their brains are very plastic and very malleable. Smoking marijuana at a young age will really affect a persons brain development.”
She adds that a persons IQ levels and motivation can be impacted negatively, along with the change of dopamine levels in their brain.
As a treatment centre, the Thorpe has not seen any additional funding being provided by the government to support the possible increase of problems that come with legalizing cannabis. LeBrocq says that one in six adolescents who smoke marijuana will develop an addiction.
“If you make something legal then certainly you are going to have more people coming up with addiction problems, related psychiatric problems, but yet we don’t have anymore finances or funding to go out and educate people or provide treatment options for people that get themselves into difficulty.”
LeBrocq says that marijuana is classified as a schedule 1 drug, meaning that at this point it’s deemed as having no medical value and is highly abusable.
The date of legalization was July 1, but is now expected to be sometime in the summer of 2018.