Colorado hasn’t experienced any serious problems related to cannabis legalization, according to the state’s Chief Medical Officer.
"The short answer is we haven't seen much," Dr. Larry Wolk said in a recent interview with the CBC. "We haven't experienced any significant issues as a result of legalization."
While Wolk admitted that legalization has resulted in a few more visits to the emergency room, those have largely been from visitors and not Colorado residents themselves. Extensive educational initiatives have helped to keep residents abreast of cannabis safety, he said.
“One in four adults and one in five youth use marijuana on a somewhat regular basis," he said, adding that that figure hasn’t changed.
Wolk had a few pieces of advice to offer to Canada ahead of its nationwide cannabis legalization next summer – chief of which is to think twice about selling cannabis in liquor stores or bars.
"The co-use of marijuana and liquor is a bad idea," said Wolk. "Marijuana in of itself — or the THC — and alcohol in of itself can cause impairment, and we know that those effects are not just additive but exponentially increased if somebody chooses to co-use both substances.”
While several Canadian provinces have revealed plans to have their respective governmental liquor agencies manage cannabis distribution, none have suggested they will sell cannabis in liquor stores or bars.
Wolk also touched on the difficulties of setting a legal age for cannabis consumption and purchase. In Colorado, the legal age is 21 – same as it is for alcohol.
"Biologically we know the correct age should be 25," he said.
"Nineteen may be a little too young, I mean because, again, of the developing brain issues, but if that's the legal drinking age and you already have a high prevalence … then it may make sense to align that with the legal drinking age."