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Canada Committee calls for New Brunswick to set minimum age for marijuana at 19

Growing flowers of cannabis intended for the medical marijuana market are shown at OrganiGram in Moncton, N.B., on April 14, 2016.

Ron Ward/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A legislature committee is recommending New Brunswick sell marijuana through government-operated stores to anyone 19 years or older.

The report from the select committee on cannabis, released Friday, says the province needs to keep weed away from young people, and shut out organized crime.

All 10 provinces are trying to be ready with regulations by July 2018, when the federal government plans to legalize recreational marijuana possession and use.

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The committee said most presenters at hearings held across New Brunswick agreed 19 is the appropriate legal age, harmonizing it with alcohol and tobacco.

It said setting it any higher could fuel the illegal market.

The committee said Colorado and Washington State have struggled to regulate private operators.

Setting up government stores "poses the best compromise to restrict youth access to recreational cannabis and ensure prices can compete with the illegal market," the committee's report said.

The committee also said landlords should be able to ban marijuana growing.

The Liberal government, led by 35-year-old Brian Gallant, has announced weed production is to be a pillar of its economic strategy, and it has worked to lure producers to the province. The government has developed a community college program for cannabis technicians, seeing the industry as an important creator of revenue and jobs.

The committee agreed with that approach.

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"The legalization of recreational cannabis presents an economic opportunity for New Brunswick," it said. "Economic opportunism coupled with sound social policies could bring significant benefits to New Brunswick."

The report noted many presenters called for education around the health risks for anyone under 25.

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