Get­ting high on the hill

The Daily Courier - - OPIN­ION - NEIL GOD­BOUT

Cana­dian mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties aren't the only ones try­ing to fig­ure out how they're go­ing to re­spond when mar­i­juana be­comes le­gal across Canada next sum­mer.

A re­cent Ma­clean's story shows univer­si­ties across the coun­try are also strug­gling with how to adapt. UNBC is no dif­fer­ent. "Se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion is giv­ing this is­sue thought and some of our op­er­a­tional units are dis­cussing it as well," UNBC provost and vice-president, aca­demic, Dan Ryan said in a writ­ten state­ment.

"UNBC is de­vel­op­ing a re­sponse but we will have to con­sult with var­i­ous peo­ple/units around the uni­ver­sity, including the Board of Gover­nors, and make sure the re­sponse is framed ap­pro­pri­ately and that we're go­ing in the right di­rec­tion."

That's about as cau­tious, po­lit­i­cally cor­rect and non­com­mit­tal a re­sponse as you can get.

It's too bad be­cause UNBC, like the City of Prince Ge­orge, could stand to gain by boldly em­brac­ing the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana, making the city and re­gion a hub for the production of safe, qual­ity pot in se­cure in­dus­trial fa­cil­i­ties, em­ploy­ing po­ten­tially thou­sands of peo­ple.

UNBC could de­vote re­search dol­lars and space on mar­i­juana re­search, not only med­i­cally but also so­cially and cul­tur­ally.

The North­ern Med­i­cal Pro­gram could carve out a real niche for im­por­tant health re­search on mar­i­juana use, whether as for­mal med­i­ca­tion or self-med­i­ca­tion.

Canada's Green Uni­ver­sity in­deed.

Yet that's not the only is­sue around pot that UNBC has to think about.

In its an­nual sur­veys of Cana­dian univer­si­ties, Ma­clean's also looked at student mar­i­juana use.

Na­tion­ally, 63 per cent of re­spon­dents said they never used, 21 per cent said they were in­fre­quent in­dul­gers (less than once a month or once a year) and just five per cent re­ported fre­quent par­tak­ing (daily or a few times per week).

Ma­clean's found UNBC stu­dents are mostly typ­i­cal pot users, vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal to the na­tional numbers for those who never use, in­fre­quent dab­blers and daily 4:20s.

UNBC, how­ever, was dou­ble the na­tional av­er­age of a few times per week use (six per cent) and monthly use (eight per cent). Cu­ri­ously, just one per cent of UNBC stu­dents re­ported less than once a month use, com­pared to 10 per cent seen na­tion­ally.

Ba­si­cally, UNBC stu­dents have a black or white re­la­tion­ship with pot, with 85 per cent of stu­dents ei­ther never or rarely us­ing, while the other 15 per cent par­tak­ing at least once a month or more.

That's hardly enough reefer mad­ness to worry about but it will be in­ter­est­ing to see whether use spikes among post-sec­ondary stu­dents once le­gal­iza­tion hap­pens and if the so­cial stig­mas around pot use fall away.

It would also be in­ter­est­ing to see fur­ther re­search into how stu­dents use pot. As the Ma­clean's ar­ti­cle points out anec­do­tally, mar­i­juana use on Cana­dian cam­puses seems to mir­ror that of the gen­eral adult pop­u­la­tion, where peo­ple ei­ther use in so­cial set­tings, sim­i­larly to al­co­hol, or par­take to re­duce stress or as a non-pre­scrip­tion sleep aid.

What­ever hap­pens after next sum­mer, the data sug­gests UNBC stu­dents will largely fall in line with their coun­ter­parts on other Cana­dian cam­puses when it comes to mar­i­juana.

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