Northern Health has some mixed feelings about the province’s plans for recreational marijuana next year.

One of the decisions made was setting the legal smoking age to 19 – the same age as all tobacco and alcohol products.

The results aren’t quite what they were hoping for.

“Public health experts in Canada have generally recommended that 21 would be a bit better, the highest risk of having long-term mental health effects from especially heavy use of cannabis can go up to the age of 25, it’s kind of a balancing act between limiting those effects and the logistics,” says Dr. Andrew Gray, Medical Health Officer.

Gray adds they would also like to see cannabis sold in dedicated stores so it’s not in the same space as liquor stores.

The province says the BC Liquor Distribution Branch will be responsible for managing sales.

The new guidelines provide an opportunity to educate the public.

“I see this as an opportunity for public health as cannabis is already used by a large number of people and the cannabis supply is not as safe as it could be as there is the criminal element still involved but if legalization and regulation are done appropriately it could reduce the number of people using,” states Gray.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says private and government-run retailers will be allowed to sell pot but those details won’t be released until the New Year.