HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot Study Shows Use Has 'Gone Respectable'
Pubdate: Fri, 16 May 2008
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 The Province
Author: Misty Harris, Canwest News Service
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)


Cliches Burned: Image of Dropout Dopehead Far From the Norm

Educated, middle-class Canadians are making "a conscious but careful 
choice to use marijuana," say researchers behind a new study 
spotlighting pot smoking behind the nation's picket fences.

These people might drive minivans to their full-time jobs or run a 
household but, come time to unwind, it's not Dr. Phil who's calming 
their nerves.

"It's an illegal activity, so it's still something people do in 
secret, usually in the privacy of their own home," says Geraint 
Osborne, co-author of a study in the spring edition of Substance Use 
and Misuse.

"They're a little reluctant to come forward and talk about it . . . 
they're still 'in the closet.' "

Osborne, of the University of Alberta, and co-author Curtis Fogel, of 
the University of Calgary, say most of the participants smoke pot to 
loosen up or enhance various leisure activities.

"Music, television, movies, computer games, creative endeavours, the 
outdoors, sex -- they find marijuana makes all those things more 
pleasurable," says Osborne, an associate professor of sociology.

Study participants were predominantly middle-class and worked in 
white-collar jobs in industries such as health care, retail, social 
work, service and communications. Some 68 per cent held 
post-secondary degrees, while another 11 per cent had earned 
high-school diplomas.

The study on just 41 Canadians nationwide deliberately involved a 
small sample size to yield a high amount of detailed information 
through face-to-face and in-depth interviews. Osborne says it's 
preliminary, exploratory research.

"The movies focus on the average marijuana user as a burnout, a 
slacker. And certainly there are those people out there, but it's not 
everyone," he says.

"Eventually, I think we're going to see its decriminalization and 
legalization, with the government taxing it and making money off it."

The study also found its middle-class participants consider 
themselves responsible users of the drug, defined by "moderate use in 
an appropriate social setting and not allowing it to cause harm to others."

Ian Mulgrew, author of Bud Inc., says the trend has been wafting 
beneath academia's radar for years and is only starting to surface 
because of increased cultural tolerance.

A nationwide poll, released this week, shows 53 per cent of Canadians 
support legalizing marijuana, while the United Nations 2007 World 
Drug Report revealed Canadians use more cannabis than any country in 
Europe, Asia or Latin America.

"People are finally starting to recognize that judges and lawyers and 
cops and doctors -- and other people who hold responsible jobs in 
society -- like to have a reefer," says Mulgrew, an award-winning 
author and Vancouver Sun columnist.

The Fraser Institute estimates Canada's pot industry is worth about 
$5.7 billion at the wholesale level. It is thought second only to 
construction in its contribution to B.C.'s gross domestic product.

Mulgrew says the trendiest pot paraphernalia -- smokeless, and 
pricey, marijuana vaporizers -- are largely targeted to 
health-conscious suburban dwellers that want to cut down on their 
inhalation of respiratory toxins and keep the odour of cannabis out 
of their upholstery.

"We're not talking about a 17-year-old buying a glass pipe and 
thinking it's a big investment," says Mulgrew. "These are smart 
people with the disposable income to buy what amounts to a $700 hookah." 
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