Pubdate: Thu, 26 Oct 2017
Source: Silhouette, The (CN ON Edu)
Copyright: 2017 The Silhouette, McMaster Students Union.
Author: Catarina Gonzalez


The stigma needs to be addressed and I'm here to address it

In light of a protest promoting medical marijuana on campus, we should
reconsider our attitudes and understanding towards weed. The Breathe
Easy campaign, on a provincial and national spectrum, seems to have a
positive impression on certain audiences. However, on others such as
myself, the campaign is not a positive one.

Marijuana has long held a stigma comparable to smoking cigarettes but
far more dramatic. But Christopher Lawson, the local activist who was
responsible for the 4:20 protest on Oct. 6, was onto something.

For McMaster University and for Canadians as a whole, the debate on
the effects of weed is both ongoing and divisive. Thanks to Justin
Trudeau, however, there seems to be a greater Canadian open-mindedness
towards weed. With the legalization of marijuana, the stigma against
recreational use has decreased. Some Canadians are beginning to
understand the positive affects of marijuana and its recreational benefits.

Marijuana was accepted in Canada by Trudeau based on popular demand
and opinion. According to an Ontario-based public opinion forum that
was taken, prior to the legalization, among 1,003 Ontario voters, 56
per cent approve of legalized marijuana. Given these numbers, it
should not be difficult to compare this ratio to the number of people
on campus who would also advocate for marijuana use on campus.

At the Student Representative Assembly meeting on Sept. 24, the SRA
cautioned the university about the smoking ban and asked them to
consider the marginalized groups who may be affected by addition and
substance abuse on campus. The SRA advocated against the smoking ban
in order to emphasize the importance of being considerate of student
safety, accessibility and the possible responses that some students
may have to the implementation process.

McMaster claims that "by designating the campus tobacco and smoke-free
the university is creating an environment promoting health and
wellness," neglecting to recognize that the ban is shunning out those
who may currently be struggling with withdrawal effects.

In addition, the university believes that, "For the first months,
anyone found in contravention of the policy will be asked to refrain
from smoking or using tobacco and will be referred to a cessation
program or given access to supports and resources." The implementation
of these goals is way too optimistic and a little too secluding.

With the smoking ban, McMaster may look like it is moving forward in
university progression, but for a number of its students, it is doing
the exact opposite of that. Since Canada is moving forward with an
open mind to the diversity of leisure and stress-relieving methods,
McMaster should consider doing the same. McMaster should try to
address the overwhelming current demand for all recreational use of
marijuana to be legalized, as cigarettes are. This does not mean the
university should actively promote the substance, but it should at
least include those who are for the use of marijuana in their
decision-making process.

Yes, there are stereotypes and generalizations made against those who
use marijuana recreationally, and no, they are not positive images of
those people. But just like any other group that is associated with
stereotypes and generalizations, we have our own reasons, and we
should be allowed to have our own voices as well. The smoking ban
should not be able to diminish my autonomy, nor should it be able to
choose how I affect my health for me. Like all life decisions, I am
only affecting myself and I am responsible for my own actions.
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MAP posted-by: Matt