SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Depending where you are, you’ll get a different answer to the age-old question of how old you should be to buying and drink alcohol and buy and smoke tobacco or marijuana. The legal age to buy alcohol and tobacco varies from country to country, and now the age of smoking recreational marijuana is up for debate.
“You’ve got your younger kids, and you got your older, let’s say you have your older brother. Younger kids look up to their older brothers. And they see them smoking marijuana, smoking cigarettes, that’s what they’re going to do,” said Jose Sanchez of Springfield.
In Massachusetts, the age to use marijuana is 21. State lawmakers are trying to push the tobacco smoking age from 18 to 21. But, in Canada, lawmakers are considering legalizing recreational marijuana nationwide with a minimum age of 18.
22News found out if there’s an actual health reason behind lawmakers’ push to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 and why the U.S. has a higher drinking age than Canada and many other countries.
To put it simply, Mercy Behavioral Health Care Vice President Dr. Robert Roose said: “[Legal] Decisions are made for other purposes, so there is no magic threshold at 18 just like there is no magic threshold at age 21.” He said biologically, the drinking and smoking age should be 25, because your brain is still developing until that point.
“If we can delay individuals from smoking, drinking or using other substances, even by a couple of years, it has huge implications in terms of graduation rates, how well people can function, the decisions that they make,” Dr. Roose told 22News.
Many fear a younger legal age for marijuana in Canada will attract more young Americans, just as its lower drinking age does now.