A recent Maclean’s study showed 42 per cent of Western University students have tried cannabis while 58 per cent have never indulged, placing Western in 15th place in a ranking of highest overall cannabis use among 49 Canadian universities.
Published on Oct. 11, the study was completed prior to cannabis legalization, which took place on Oct. 17.
The results break down overall use into several categories. In the smallest categories, three per cent of Western students indulge on a daily basis and four per cent indulge a few times per week. In the more populous categories, around 14 per cent indulge less than once a month and 10 per cent indulge less than once a year.
Bishop’s University ranks in first place with 56 per cent overall use, followed by St. Francis Xavier University with 55 per cent. In last place is the Université de Moncton with 23 per cent overall use.
Levels of Western's cannabis use described in the study are slightly higher than those described in a 2017 Maclean’s survey in most categories. The 2017 survey reported overall Western student use at 41 per cent and daily use at two per cent.
Chelsea Lewis, fourth-year psychology and criminology student, believes these numbers may be an underestimation based on personal experience.
“I think it’s surprising because a lot of people actually think everyone does it,” said Lewis. “Pretty much everyone I have met in university has tried it, but that could just be the people I’m hanging around with, too.”
Lewis added that legalization might lead to an increase in numbers of first-time users, with little effect on previous users.
Second-year master's candidate in music performance and literature, Dan Luong, seems to disagree, saying legalization will mainly affect previous users.
“I think that people who [already] use it will use it more often… but I think the people who don’t like it, it won’t affect them at all,” said Luong.
Similar to Lewis, third-year health and rehabilitation sciences student, Allison Phillibert, expected these numbers to be higher.
“It just seems that most people think it’s okay. Everyone was for the the legalization, so I just assumed that more people would’ve tried it,” said Phillibert. “I think [the numbers] will probably increase now that it’s been legalized. Less people would be hesitant [to use cannabis] because they won’t be afraid that it’s something that’s illegal.”
For more information on cannabis use, students can visit the Wellness Education Centre in University Community Centre Room 76.