Ryerson students not particularly jonesing for pot legalization

If you suspect that university students are especially excited about pot legalization that theory’s up in smoke.

Ryerson students’ views on the legalization of marijuana align with the broader Canadian population, a new poll suggests.

The survey, which was conducted by first-year journalism students, found that 37.5 per cent, or nearly four out of 10 students think marijuana should be legalized for recreational use.

These numbers closely correspond with a study released on January 20 by Abacus Data that found 38 per cent of respondents want the Liberal government to make good on an election promise to legalize marijuana.

Aiden Mehak, a 23-year-old psychology student, said the results are surprising. “I would imagine that our age group and university educated would be a little bit more liberal in our views,” she said.

Although she is not passionate about legalization, it “makes more sense for it to be legal,” she said.

Medicinal pot is currently legal but the Liberal government says it introduce wider legality in the spring of 2017. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Medicinal pot is currently legal but the Liberal government says it introduce wider legality in the spring of 2017. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

This sentiment is not just reserved for young university students, either.

The war on weed

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health published a report in 2014 entitled “Cannabis Policy Framework,” which details the case for legalized pot.

“Canada’s current system of cannabis control is failing to prevent or reduce the harms associated with cannabis use,” said Dr. Jürgen Rehm in a news release. Rehm, is the director of the Social and Epidemiological Research Department at CAMH.

Canadians are among the highest consumers of marijuana in the world, with 40 per cent of them having tried it at least once in their lives, according to the CAMH report.

The report also says that people who get marijuana from illegal dealers may be unaware of the strength or variety product they are purchasing, and that criminalization of marijuana isn’t a deterrent for using the drug.

Of all reported drug crime in 2013, 54 per cent was related to marijuana possession, which has more than doubled since 1991, according to Statistics Canada.

Costs associated with drug enforcement are hard to come by, but in 2001 the auditor general estimated that Canada spent $450 million between 1999 and 2000 on policing drug prohibition.

All of this can affect students at Ryerson because people aged 18 to 24 are the most likely to be charged with a crime, according to Statistics Canada.

Jeffrey Sung, a 21-year-old retail management student at Ryerson, said he thought marijuana should be legal for everyone.

“It’s just like anything else,” he said. “It’s all about self-control.” He also said he didn’t think it would affect students in a bad way.

Our country’s murky world of pot laws

One place that hasn’t waited for the complete legalization of pot is Ganja Yoga, a studio on Bloor street in Toronto that incorporates marijuana use into its yoga lessons.

“People come in with these preconceived notions that it’s just going to be a bunch of stoners smoking weed, giggling and doing yoga,” said John Farley, an instructor at the studio. “We’re very serious about yoga, meditation and the herb.”

Farley said a full range of people from “every sector of society” go to the studio. They have to be over 18 and of “sound body and mind,” he said.

When police visited Ganja Yoga, Farley said their only remark was “You guys are really serious about your yoga.”

As the numbers from the Ryerson polls suggest, not everyone favours the complete legalization of weed.

“At a time where the government is putting such a huge taboo on cigarettes, the legalization of marijuana doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” said Matthew Murphy, an 18-year-old business management student.

The survey of 1,122 undergraduate students was a randomized poll, conducted person-to-person, between March 5 and 9, 2016. The margin of error is 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. It was based on a population of 32,421 of both full-time and part-time undergraduate students at enrolment Ryerson University in 2014-15.

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