Why it matters that Trudeau didn't try pot until 18 - Macleans.ca

Why it matters that Trudeau didn’t try pot until 18

Liberal leader makes an important distinction


Trudeau in Vancouver (Richard Lam/CP)

Justin Trudeau, a man who wants to be prime minister, told The Huffington Post that his first experience with cannabis was at an Amsterdam café at the age of 18. A friend of his bought hash and they tried to heat it with a candle.

“It was just a total disaster,” he said, seemingly alluding to the fact that he couldn’t get high rather than any regrets about using drugs. Since then, he says, he used marijuana five or six times, most recently three years ago at a pool party at his house where someone passed around a joint.

Since saying earlier this year that he supports legalization and regulation of marijuana to keep it out of the hands of children, the Liberal leader has been mocked by people who don’t think asking for ID is a good strategy for stopping teens for doing what they please. (See: teenage drinking)

Those critics may be right, but at least Trudeau is advancing the idea that adults should be free to make their own choices while also warning kids about the dangers. He made this distinction clear in the Huffington Post interview: “For all the studies that have shown that it is less harmful to people than alcohol or cigarettes, the impact on a developing brain is significant and concerning.”

It’s a distinction supported by science. Doctors are increasingly worried about teens—not adults—using cannabis. That teenage brains may be more susceptible is often missed in the debate.

Consider what’s one of the best long-term studies ever published on marijuana’s impact on intelligence. British and U.S. scientists tracked 1,037 people whose IQs were tested at age 13 and then again at the ages of 18, 21, 26, 32 and 38. At age 38, those who had smoked lots of marijuana before age 18 had IQs that had dropped significantly (about six points), while those who starting smoking after 18 or didn’t smoke were roughly as smart. “I’m fairly confident that cannabis is safe for over-18 brains, but risky for under-18 brains,” researcher Terrie Moffitt told The Guardian.

It’s not just intelligence. An animal study published in Neuropsychopharmacology in July is one of many that suggests pot use may increase the risk of mental illness in adolescents but not adults.

Dr. Elizabeth Osuch, who runs the First Episode Mood and Anxiety Program at a hospital in London, Ont., told me last year that marijuana may trigger depression, anxiety and schizophrenia and that teens aren’t getting the message.

Since Trudeau’s announcement in support of legalization, the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair said he smoked but that, “the marijuana that’s on the market is extremely potent and can actually cause mental illness.” Prime Minister Harper said he has never used it and his Conservative party also said they have, “no interest in seeing marijuana legalized or made more easily available to youth.”

That means all three federal parties have acknowledged the danger pot poses to youth. When students debate legalization this fall on campus, Trudeau’s position will likely be popular. But they won’t be able to escape the fact that even he thinks marijuana might harm teenage brains.


Why it matters that Trudeau didn’t try pot until 18

  1. Let’s see, his late brother faced pot charges when he was killed by an avalanche, he has friends who think it’s cool to whip out drugs at the home of an MP, BUT, oh no, he didn’t touch the stuff before age 18… How convenient.

    Why don’t we believe him? Let’s see, because his mom was a doper? His brother might have died while high and skiing in a dangerous location? He has friends who bring illegal dope to his home and despite being a Member of Parliament, sworn to uphold the laws of Canada, he didn’t even ask his ‘friend’ to desist? Bad judgement wafts from Trudeau like the smoke he claims he never touched before he was 18. Guess he didn’t ever go to concerts. There goes the music fan vote.

    • How about all those members that show up at parliament smelling of all that half price booze they get the privilege of having. It seems the cost of their drinking needs to be subsidized.

    • Sorry, what relevance is Trudeau’s brother in this debate? Harper has 2 brothers, but guess what, I don’t care what they think about anything. I didn’t vote for Grant Harper, I voted for Stephen. So put down the tabloids and leave the families out of it. And more importantly, it’s disgusting that you’d suggest that a person who died in a tragic accident “might have died while high” … on the basis of what? The coroner or police didn’t say anything of the sort. Would you assume that every time there’s a fatal accident, the person was drunk, just because they are known to be an occasional drinker? Of course not. This is an idiot’s logic and it is straight-up disrespectful to fabricate rumours about someone who is dead.

  2. Prohibition = violence, misery and corruption.

    We badly need a change in politic…

    Cannabis is a medecine and does a lot of folks good…

    Trudeau has my vote!

    • Congrat! Keep your puff and huff.

  3. What kind of politician is this guy? That’s three times I know of in just the last couple of months when he’s just come out and told the truth. I mean, the truth is OK for Elizabeth May, it’s kind of her schtick, but doesn’t Trudeau know that serious leaders of parties can’t go around blurting out what everyone knows is common sense.

  4. Sure Turdeau didn’t smoke until he was 18.

    ANd he only smoked a few times????

    What sort of fools does he think the majority of Canadians are? Is he some sort of narcisissic sociopath, who doesn’t realize that there are some people out there who do think for themselves??

  5. Justin line, this so-called crime, befits this rather feeble rhyme; but, never fear, the end is near and casual users won’t serve time;

  6. The pot is pissed, the joint is fouled; the babies, kissed, though some have howled; the generations split their sides, but, veneration still abides;

  7. Trudeau tweeted that he had installed a dimmer on one of his lights at home. Rex Murphy suggested that considering the wattage of Justin’s public pronouncements he might want to stay away from dimmers. Nuff said.