Exactly, Mr. Chair.
I'm going to ask the question in French. You may want to use the earpieces if you need a translation.
Mr. Chair, I just participated in a town hall meeting last night in my region. More than 150 people came to get information. The facts are troubling. Before I tell you about it, I want to point out that I'm very impressed with the panel we have with us this morning. It includes experienced people from various areas of activity.
In my riding of Thérèse-De Blainville, north of Montreal, in the Lower Laurentians, 45% of youths 17 to 24 years of age admit to having used marijuana in the past year. The average for Quebec is 35%. In the case of youths 11 to 17 years of age, that percentage is 28%, while the average for Quebec is 24.9%.
Yesterday wasn't a cry of alarm, but I said it was urgent to act. This morning, that urgency is even stronger. With all due respect to my colleagues opposite, who want to delay things, it is clear that all the approaches that have been taken over the past 100 years have been a dismal failure in terms of preventing cannabis use among young people. The consequences, of which we are speaking at length, are serious. It has been pointed out in particular that the brain continues developing until the age of 25.
Yesterday, I was informed of some of the issues that you also raised. For me, the important issue isn't the money, but prevention and the health of our young people. But we are urging them to turn to the illicit market and organized crime. These aren't just dealers of cannabis, but of other drugs as well that we want our young people to experiment with even less.
The age issue concerns me. If it is decided that, for medical reasons, the required age should be 25, that isn't a problem. In fact, we all agree that using has consequences. However, we seem to be forgetting that, as of age 18, young people are given the responsibility of voting for representatives like us, who pass laws.
Are we going to tell them that they have the right to vote, but that they don't have enough social conscience to make an informed choice for their own health before the age of 21 or, in other cases, the age of 19 or 25?
I don't understand the logic of that.
Each province is independent in its choice of age. There is a difference between alcohol and cannabis, but are we going to do it for each product that will eventually be on the market?
That said, I would like to hear from the nurses. I quite enjoyed Mr. De Villaer's speech. I almost fully agreed with you, although a little less on the age issue. I would like to know a bit more about these kinds of issues. In terms of the market price, on the street, we were talking yesterday about $20 for 3.5 grams. Price is an important factor. If we offer prices that aren't consistent with the market, we won't change anything.
I have used up four minutes, but I can tell you that the last night was very informative.
I would like to hear your comments on the age issue, the logic around it and the related consequences.