FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government announced today the legal age for the purchase, possession and consumption of cannabis will be 19.

“Balancing public health and safety are our number one priorities as we move towards the legalization of recreational cannabis,” said Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry. “Having the legal age set at 19 will help us achieve our goals of ensuring cannabis stays out of the hands of criminals and youth.”

“We recognize there are concerns by some for setting the legal age at 19,” said Health Minister Benoît Bourque. “This is why we are committed to targeting our education to  those most at risk such as our youth. As we move forward with this legalization we will continue to work with all partners on ensuring children, youth and at-risk adults have the necessary information to make informed decisions around cannabis consumption.”

The New Brunswick Working Group on the Legalization of Cannabis proposed that the legal age be set at 19 to harmonize with the legal age for alcohol and tobacco. The working group considered a number of factors in its report including the high prevalence of cannabis users between the ages of 18 and 24 who may revert to the illegal market if they are not able to buy cannabis legally, thereby defeating one of the federal government’s main objectives of legalizing recreational cannabis. The age of adulthood in New Brunswick under the Age of Majority Act is also 19.

“Your government continues to work diligently to prepare for the federal government’s July 2018 implementation date for the legalization of recreational cannabis use,” said Finance Minister Cathy Rogers. “We have established a Crown corporation to oversee, conduct and manage the retailing of cannabis for recreational use, secured a safe supply of product, and announced a retail model that helps us meet our objectives of smoothly introducing this new market.”

Necessary legislative amendments related to the legalization of cannabis will be introduced in the current legislative session.