Thank you for your testimony this morning.
Mr. DeVillaer and Dr. Melanson, I want to go back to age limit and the advice you gave. I totally understand the health lens you've applied to this and the recommendation that the age limit be set at 21.
I want to do a really quick backdrop for you, because you are speaking to a federal act and not a provincial act right now. Federally, the definition of youth is 12 to 17 years of age. You would be charged and convicted, if you were under 17, under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and your name would be kept private and the record would be sealed or destroyed after set time frames. Federally, at the age of 18 you would be charged as an adult, and if you were convicted, you would have a criminal record that's a public record.
If we took your advice federally and moved the age limit to 21, then 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds would be subject to criminal charges and would have public criminal records. I think the intent of the federal legislation is to protect adults from that, so people 18 and over would be legally allowed to possess cannabis up to a certain amount. It's a minimum age, so provincially or territorially, they could go to a higher age. They could say 21, and in that case, 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds who were caught in possession of marijuana would be charged under the provincial charges acts. It's a fine, a ticket, or a seizure. There would be no criminal record. Think ticketing or liquor licence charges. It seems to me that this is a better solution.
Is your advice of 21 really aimed at provincial-territorial age limits, or is it really your belief that the health consequences for 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds are so extreme that they should be subject to criminal charges at the federal level? Given that view, do you think the advice at the federal level is still correct, that it should be 21 before we legalize it?