Amidst cannabis legalization in Canada, university students have been left to navigate the substance’s new regulations on their own. TRU senior respiratory therapy students Rebecca Banazon and Irish Montemayor, along with the help of Chelsea Corsi of the TRU Wellness Centre, opened the conversation up to see where TRU students and faculty stand.
In a four-part focus group, members of the TRU community were asked to hold nothing back while answering. In small groups, no more than eight people, questions were asked regarding how legalization has affected students in their experiences on and off campus.
One comment that showed up many times throughout the focus group was that legalization is still in the early days and thus too early for many students to gauge the effects that the substance may have on their day-to-day lives. Many felt that while it is legal they would still avoid smoking in public for fear of possible repercussions.
TRU currently has put in place a policy that prohibits the use of non-medicinal cannabis on campus. According to the Alcohol, Cannabis and Tobacco policy (ADM 05-3), campus community members that wish to continue to use medicinal cannabis must provide proof of medical support that is satisfactory with TRU’s policy.
Many of the students that showed up to discuss the current smoking culture on campus were open to both the idea of legalization and TRU’s policy banning the use of recreational cannabis on campus.
Students raised concerns with “second hand high” if TRU opened the use of cannabis on campus; a differing factor to the use of alcohol and tobacco on campus.
Concerns about the lack of education were also raised by attendees. Many students in the group believe that in general many do not fully understand the effects that cannabis may have on an individual. Without this knowledge, students feel as if someone who is only now using cannabis due to legalization won’t understand how it may affect their body, health and wellbeing.
Kimberly Webster, a fourth-year psychology student posed concerns with the possible dangerous health effects on cannabis users younger than 25; which is the bulk of TRU’s population. Webster voiced to the focus group that in her studies of substances on the young brain, cannabis could cause great damage to key brain processes needed to study and learn.
“We need to look at it from a health standpoint,” said Webster.
As it stands, TRU students have not seen a huge change in the smoking culture on campus since the introduction of legalization in Canada. With the law change fresh in everyone’s’ minds and new studies being released those who attended the focus group showed interest in the new information that could come from these studies and hope a greater level of education will be pushed further by the federal government.