Something to talk about
More open discussions seen as a positive step for students weighing pot options
Legalization of cannabis is in its early days, and many parts of society are still getting comfortable with the notion.
But post-secondary student leaders across the province say on-campus education and awareness campaigns leading up to Oct. 17 played a significant role in helping students adapt and become more comfortable talking about its use.
“It’s not considered or seen in a way that’s as shameful anymore,” said Emma Miller, president of the Mount Allison Student Union and a fourth-year political science student.
Miller was one of several students who were part of a panel discussion at a recent provincial forum on cannabis at Mount Allison University. She said thanks to collaborative efforts between the university and student union to make students aware of cannabis and how legalization would impact them, it’s become much more widely-discussed.
“I think they feel more comfortable asking questions,” said Miller. “It’s becoming more normalized and accepted.”
Ben Palmer, vice-president of student life with the University of New Brunswick Student Union in Fredericton, agreed it was important to ensure students were well informed on the issue before legalization came into effect. He said UNB developed a cannabis working group to develop an education campaign, one which encouraged more open conversation at his campus. From what he’s seen, students are comfortable asking questions about cannabis or talking about its use in class or with friends.
“It’s kind of a hot topic right now ... so I think there’s a lot of appeal to that and so students want to learn more about it,” said Palmer. “It’s becoming more normalized in conversations.”
Bibi Wasiima Joomun, vicepresident of student life at St. Thomas University, said while students and staff are still trying to learn and adapt to the new culture on campus, “seeing what works and what doesn’t,” she agreed education was key in ensuring the conversation was sparked.
“It’s made it OK to talk about it, so more people are having those conversations,” she said.
Nai Mahoney, student union president for New Brunswick Community College campuses across the province, said students feel they can approach the subject easier than they could prior to Oct. 17. She’s hopeful those open conversations will continue.
“It’s all new. We are all learning here. So it’s important to approach this topic with as much research and education as possible so that we get it right,” she said.
The student leaders agree one of the major benefits of increased awareness is that students are hopefully pursuing safer and more informed decisions about cannabis use.
“From what I’ve experienced, students want to go to Cannabis NB rather than getting it from a dealer,” said Miller.
She said Cannabis NB staff play a valuable role in educating customers about their purchases — what they’re ingesting and how it will affect their body.
She said one of the key factors in their decision will, of course, come down to price. But she pointed out the quality of legalized cannabis far outweighs the drugs people tend to get on the black market.
“The knowledge of what you’re ingesting is valuable,” she said, noting that’s one of the main reasons behind legalization.