Choice of minimum legal age (MLA) for cannabis use is a critical and contentious issue when it comes to legalizing recreational cannabis. In this blog, the authors of a study published today in BMC Public Health discuss their research which compares later life outcomes among people who started using the drug at different ages and finds that there is merit in setting 19 years as the MLA for recreational cannabis use.
An increasing number of jurisdictions including Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Luxembourg and several US states are looking to legalize non-medical cannabis. The decision to legalize cannabis however comes with a contentious question for policymakers: What should be the minimum legal age (MLA) for cannabis consumption? While a low MLA can discourage the underground cannabis market, cannabis consumption before age 25 is said to negatively impact brain development. Policymakers, thus, face a difficult tradeoff between curtailing illegal economic activity and safeguarding adolescents’ well-being.