More education, fewer “potheads.”

This was the suggestion made by New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon during an interview with CBC's Information Morning Moncton on Thursday morning, making waves in the cannabis community and beyond.

Coon, whose party is known for its pro-cannabis stance, said the government’s focus at this time should be on educating the public about the substance and its potential dangers for young brains.

"The last thing we need in the province is, you know, more potheads," Coon told the CBC.

The New Brunswick government announced this week that NB Liquor would manage the distribution of cannabis through up to 20 standalone stores in 15 communities across the province. Officials have not landed on a minimum age for consumption or purchase.

"One of the big concerns with the use of marijuana is for people under 25 because its potential impact on brain development," said Coon. 

While Liberal government officials have said they will eventually implement cannabis education programming in schools and community groups, they hope store clerks will educate customers about marijuana. Coon is not confident in this model, arguing that NB Liquor staff doesn’t engage in these kinds of conversations with customers about alcohol.

"Alcohol is a far more dangerous drug and the government does nothing to inform New Brunswick of the risk of alcohol," he said.

"We already have significant consumption of marijuana by young people and we need to have less, and the government has not proved itself, so far, that this is a priority for them ... So that has got to change."

Coon also said he doesn’t buy the Liberals’ line that selling cannabis through government-run establishments will cut youth cannabis use.

"They've got nothing in place to address the illegal trade of marijuana, that's really effective," he said, adding that the New Brunswick Medical Society ought to be considered as an avenue for cannabis education.

In response, Cara Smith of the New Brunswick Medical Society offered: "We've recommended that government approach public education campaigns with caution in order to educate the public in a way that does not unintentionally encourage the use of marijuana.”

Meanwhile, some in the cannabis community have taken issue with Coon’s use of the term ‘pothead.’ Barrister and cannabis advocate Kirk Tousaw is among them, tweeting in response to Coon’s comments: “’Potheads’ is a slur and implies that people who use cannabis are somehow deviant or their choices aren’t worthy of respect.”

Tousaw also called Coon a “bigot.”

h/t CBC News