All Posts Tagged With: "marijuana"
Where smoking is outlawed it does more harm than good
Students at the University of Prince Edward Island are pushing to ban smoking on campus. Cigarettes, they say, are not only deadly for the poor schmucks who choose to light up but also harmful to the non-smoking citizens forced to walk through their carcinogenic clouds. The student union, reasonably enough, wants a plebiscite.
I’m not a smoker. I think unwanted cigarette smoke is annoying and gross. Ontario’s government must have polling showing many people feel the same way or they wouldn’t have, just yesterday, banned smoking outside at restaurants and bars. I can think of more useful things for the province to do (for example, working on the deficit) but research has shown that smoke doesn’t easily dissipate outside on patios when people are sitting so at least there’s science behind the policy.
But that’s as far as it should go. Campus-wide bans are pointless, draconian and unnecessary.
“Like every other person I knew back in the ’70s”
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter says he smoked marijuana in university but too much is being made of the issue since federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau called for the legalization of pot.
Dexter said Thursday he tried marijuana as a university student.
“Like every other person I knew back in the ’70s when I went to university, some of whom are actually in this room, I would have tried it, the same as other people at that time,” he said.
Dexter said he will leave it up to the federal government to worry about whether marijuana should be legalized because there are more important things for the provincial government to be concerned about, such as federal health-care funding and caps on immigration to the province.
Liberal leader makes an important distinction
Justin Trudeau, a man who wants to be prime minister, told The Huffington Post that his first experience with cannabis was at an Amsterdam café at the age of 18. A friend of his bought hash and they tried to heat it with a candle.
“It was just a total disaster,” he said, seemingly alluding to the fact that he couldn’t get high rather than any regrets about using drugs. Since then, he says, he used marijuana five or six times, most recently three years ago at a pool party at his house where someone passed around a joint.
Since saying earlier this year that he supports legalization and regulation of marijuana to keep it out of the hands of children, the Liberal leader has been mocked by people who don’t think asking for ID is a good strategy for stopping teens for doing what they please. (See: teenage drinking)
What students are talking about today (April 15th)
1. It’s almost April 20th, the annual day when marijuana smokers gather, often on campuses, to smoke pot, throw Frisbees and in some cases protest cannabis laws. One such protest, Fill the Hill, happens on Parliament Hill in Ottawa each year. Kyle Walton, a second-year student from Carleton University, told The Fulcrum student newspaper that marijuana is particularly important this year following the Conservative government’s omnibus budget bill, which toughened penalties for marijuana possession. Pot could become an election issue ahead of 2015. Justin Trudeau, who was elected leader of the Liberal Party on Sunday, favours decriminalization. The NDP’s Thomas Mulcair once said he believes legalization would be a mistake, “because the information that we have right now is that the marijuana that’s on the market is extremely potent and can actually cause mental illness.” He later clarified that he does not believe anyone should go to jail for possessing small amounts.
2. Speaking of marijuana, a student at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary told CBC News she plans to continue using marijuana during class despite the administration’s view that she’s committing academic misconduct. Lisa Kirkman has a medical marijuana license and uses a vapourizer once per hour, including during classes. She says she wants the school to provide a ventilated room.
What students are talking about today (February 7th)
1. About 1,000 people spoiled their ballots in the recent Carleton University Students’ Association elections, chief electoral officer Sunny Cohen told The Charlatan. Most of the ballots were disqualified because people wrote in more than one place, but more than 100 had penises drawn on them. A “Phallus Your Ballot” Facebook page and instructional video had proposed this act of protest. “If we’re going to elect dicks, we might as well get to draw them,” read the page. Third-year student Sam Corey told The Charlatan he voted for two candidates but drew a phallus on the rest of his ballots because CUSA is too concerned with issues like “safe space.”
2. A fraternity at Duke University threw an Asian-themed party on Friday. The Asian Student Association fought back on Wednesday with a protest after seeing photos of party goers in Japanese kimonos and dressed as sumo-wrestlers. The ASA released the photos but was kind enough to blur faces. Although kimonos and sumo costumes aren’t offensive on their own, The Duke Chronicle reports the party was advertised in an e-mail that started off “Herro Nice Duke Peopre,” a dig at some Asian accents. The frat has apologized.
The real Scumbag Steve, by-elections & marijuana research
1. You know that guy Scumbag Steve with the backwards hat and fur-collared coat? You’ve probably seen him posted on Facebook walls with captions like “Yo, whose house is this?/My bros need directions.” It turns out he’s more than just a meme. His name is Blake Boston, 22, and he lives in New England. He tells the Boston Globe the photo was taken when he was 16 and then lifted off his Myspace page. Now, he’s recognized by strangers with regularity. Let that be a lesson to us all about forgotten Myspace pages.
2. Humboldt State University in California has announced a new interdisciplinary research unit dedicated to studying marijuana. Eleven faculty members from fields including economics, geography, politics and sociology will conduct the research, reports local newspaper The Times-Standard.
3. Three by-elections made Monday an interesting night in federal politics. The Conservatives easily took Durham, the Ontario riding Bev Oda vacated after her $16 orange juice. In Calgary Centre the Conservatives won with just 37 per cent of the vote while the Liberals got 33 per cent and the Greens took 25 per cent. The Greens also had a strong second place showing in Victoria where the New Democrat prevailed. Here’s a post mortem of the race for Calgary Centre.
Millions could be generated by taxing marijuana
It’s a bounty that almost does grow on trees.
A new study has rung in British Columbians’ pot purchases at about half a billion dollars each year, leading its pro-legalization researchers to argue current laws mean the province is missing an opportunity to harvest tax revenues.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University have quantified the retail value of black market marijuana sold only to British Columbians for the first time, pegging its value at between $443 million and $564 million annually.
“What’s important is to get a sense of how many people are using marijuana in B.C., and how much they’re using, and how much that’s worth,” said Dan Werb, the study’s lead author and co-founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. “That data drives policy.”
Trump is mad, pot is legal & U. Manitoba’s “racialized rep.”
1. Barack Obama got a second chance, winning the presidency for another four years with 50 per cent of the popular vote to Mitt Romney’s 48 per cent plus victory in battleground states like Ohio. From Obama’s victory speech: “Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.” Full text here.
2. Upon hearing the election results, Donald Trump threw a tantrum on Twitter and threatened to “March on Washington,” the site of this democratic “travesty.”
3. Washington and Colorado passed ballot initiatives during Tuesday’s election that legalize marijuana for recreational use. But pot-heads shouldn’t pack their bags for Denver or Seattle just yet. Legalization may lead to a Supreme Court challenge from the federal government.
Obama’s odds, no-money-down tuition, Halo 4 & a drug bust
1. It’s election day in America and things are looking good for President Barack Obama. Statistician Nate Silver, one of the most trusted seers of election results in America, Tweeted Monday that the latest polling suggests a very close election, but that Obama has a 91 per cent chance of winning the electoral college, which would give him another four years in office.
2. If it were up to student newspaper editors, Obama would win. The Daily Campus at Southern Methodist University is the only high-profile student paper to give Romney its endorsement.
3. More details are out from Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Glen Murray on his no-money-down post-secondary plan. Here it is. In partnership with private lenders, university students would be allowed to borrow up to $7,000 per year, roughly the cost of tuition and fees. Repayment and interest would start after graduation based on income. Loans would be interest free in the first 12 months after grad. The Canadian Federation of Students is opposed, naturally, saying it would “saddle youth with a lifetime of debt.”
Hockey, marijuana v. IQ, sex drive, sea ice and Sarah Palin
1. University sports writers are being driven crazy by all this talk of another NHL lockout. Karen Aney of UFV’s The Cascade blames both the players and commissioner Gary “Buttman” Bettman. “Last time there was a lockout, we saw the emergence of poker. Seriously? That was the best that sports networks could do?,” she laments.
2. Teens who smoke marijuana regularly may suffer long-term brain damage according to a study that observed how IQ changed between the ages of 13 and 38 for more than 1,000 New Zealanders. Those who smoked heavily and early are most at risk. IQ dropped among those who were dependent on marijuana before the age of 18 by eight points on average. That’s a big drop.
3. Autumn is here and that means not just falling leaves but falling sex drives. A study that looked at five years of Google searches showed “strong and consistent” seasonal spikes in searches for pornography, online dating and prostitution in spring and early winter, with lulls this time of year.
Seminar at UBC will train medical marijuana entrepreneurs
A seminar taking place on the University of British Columbia campus this weekend will train wannabe medical marijuana entrepreneurs. Greenline Academy, the organizer, told The Province that its $330 seminar is sold out. The course will cover everything from the legalities of medical marijuana to growing techniques. The classes have already been taken by more than 1,300 people in cities from Winnipeg to Victoria since Greenline opened in 2011. A permanent school is planned for Kelowna, B.C. Health Canada has issued more than 12,000 licenses to grow medical marijuana.
Drug laws will be enforced on 4/20
April 20 (or “4/20″) is an annual holy day for marijuana smokers. It’s also a day that’s conveniently close to the end of exams at many Canadian universities, making campuses a natural gathering spot for pot-fueled celebrations.
In many cases, police ignore the illegal substances—it’s not as though pot smoking is likely to lead to riots. But this year, police in one Canadian university town, London, Ont., are reminding people that possession of any quantity of marijuana is illegal. “The London Police Service will enforce the law on this date as they would throughout the year,” they said in a release.
Research shows links to mental illness, lung capacity
When sociologist and drug-policy expert Andy Hathaway surveyed one of his first-year classes at the University of Guelph last fall, 80 per cent of students reported experience with cannabis.
Hathaway cautions that it was only a small pilot study (around 100 responses), and it took place at Guelph, which is, let’s face it, “a bit granola.”
Still, that 80 per cent figure isn’t surprising.
When twelfth graders are asked if they’ve tried marijuana, roughly half say yes.
Provincial rates of lifetime usage now range from a low of 40 per cent of Albertan twelfth-graders to a high of 63 per cent of those in Nova Scotia, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. And that’s before university.
Gets house arrest instead of jail
A student pleaded guilty in a North Bay, Ont. court—and received house arrest—after he was caught with a hefty load of marijuana in his car, an estimated $47,000 worth. Jameson Fletcher’s lawyer argued that his client, a Laurentian University commerce student, was selling drugs to help lessen his $40,000 school debt load, reports the North Bay Nugget. Fletcher was given a punishment of six months served in the community when it’s common to receive jail-time, said the deciding judge, Justice Jean-Gilles Lebel. Despite the light sentence, Lebel noted that many young people carry student debt and most manage to pay it down without committing crimes.
Startling findings in annual drug use report
The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse has released their annual report, which brings together surveys of drug use among teens from the various provinces. What’s most startling is the risky behaviours Grade 12 students are engaging in before driving. Depending on the province:
—up to 20 per cent report driving within an hour of having two or more drinks
—up to 38 per cent report being a passenger with a driver who was drinking
—up to 20 per cent report being a passenger with a driver who had “too much to drink”
—up to 21 per cent report driving within an hour of using cannabis
Clearly young people need to plan safer rides home.
There were also interesting, if less shocking, findings about teen drug and alcohol use in general. The study looked at students in grades seven, nine, 10 and 12 and found that the amount of teens who had drank alcohol at least once in their lifetimes ranged from 52 per cent of Albertan teens to 70 per cent of Newfoundland teens. Those figures climb as high as 90 per cent by twelfth grade.
University of the Fraser Valley researchers calculate $154-million annual loss
More than half (52 per cent) of marijuana grow operations in British Columbia are stealing power from the grid, says a new study from the University of the Fraser Valley. Add in all the opportunity cost of not selling that subsidized power to legitimate industriesand those grow ops are costing the electricity system $154-million per year.
That figure is like a five-per-cent surcharge on the electricity bills of the province’s other 2.2 million customers, say the researchers. Darryl Plecas and Jordan Diplock told the Vancouver Sun that their new estimate is about twice what they found in similar study between 1997 and 2003, partially because more theft is occurring as grow ops get bigger, increasing the return from tapping into the system. They say that smart metres, currently being rolled-out in the province, should cut down on the thefts. The study was not sponsored by the main electricity provider, BC Hydro.
Is our education system producing citizens who can’t make a tough call?
A recent poll suggests that on the issues of capital punishment and decriminalizing marijuana, Canadians are split. On capital punishment, 40 percent would like to see it come back. 46 per cent oppose the reintroduction.
Fair enough: it’s a tough issue, and though I myself oppose capital punishment, I can see how a reasonable person might favour it. What bothers me about the poll, though, is that 14 percent neither support nor oppose reintroducing the death penalty. On an issue of such importance, an issue that has been debated so thoroughly, why are there so many — more than one in ten — who can’t make up their minds?
My hope is that for most of them, the issue is so thorny, they just cannot find a way through it, struggle as they might. My fear, though, is that most of them haven’t thought much about it at all, or, worse, imagine that on difficult issues there is no point trying to come down on one side or the other. Indeed, I worry that many of them think it is foolish to try.
I worry about it because I frequently see the same quality of mind in my first-year students. They confuse critical thinking with pure open-mindedness. That is, they want to be open to all points of view (which is good), but they think it close-minded and intolerant to finally accept one and reject others. As such, it is difficult to teach them to write a persuasive essay, since they not only resist convincing someone else of their position, they resist taking a position in the first place.
On the issue of decriminalizing marijuana–not a life and death issue– the undecideds are even greater. Fully 20 percent of Canadians can’t or won’t take a stand on the issue. Why not? If democracy is to have any value, it must be premised on a population capable of reviewing the facts, weighing the arguments, and deciding which position is better. What is the point of a jury of one’s peers if one’s peers can’t take a reasonable position on your guilt or innocence? It is worth pointing out here that for both questions, the numbers of undecideds have increased compared to ten years ago.
Creating a population capable of thinking well is, it seems to me, the main justification for a public education system. If these polls — and my first-year students — are any indication, that system may be failing us.