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KU students ‘would not smoke cannabis if legalised’, study shows

By Karishma Patel Mar 14, 2016

The vast majority of KU students would not consume cannabis even if it were to be legalised, research has revealed.

The survey, which was created by a Kingston student as part of her dissertation, asked participants various questions around the topic of cannabis and showed that a huge 68 per cent of students would not consume the drug if it were legal in the UK.

Sophia Benali, who conducted the survey said: “As we grow up, throughout education and society we have this notion that drugs are bad for you. You can see that most of the participants were not willing to try cannabis even if it was legalised. For me, that is the most surprising of all the results.”

The postgraduate forensic science student said that she personally would support the legalisation of cannabis in the UK, if given the choice.

She said: “As adults, we should be able to deal with a drug like cannabis responsibly and should have the choice of whether we want it or not.

“I don’t believe that legalising cannabis will increase its usage or even increase the number of people consuming it. We search for drugs naturally as humans.”

Although most students would not consume cannabis if it were legal, over half (54 per cent) of participants would still support the legalisation of cannabis in the UK, while 16 per cent are against it, and 30 per cent are undecided.

Students’ responses for why they would support the legalisation of cannabis were varied, including one answer, ‘by making it [cannabis] illegal you are creating an excessive demand which will be supplied through organised crime’.

While some participants pointed out the potential medicinal benefits of cannabis as a reason to legalise it, others stated that “a lot of money would come to the UK from taxing and regulating it.”

Some students felt indifferent, stating that “people will still use it regardless – the war on drugs has failed” and others were completely against legalising it, claiming “it is a gateway to harder drugs which is too risky.”

Benali decided to base her dissertation on the topic of the legalisation of cannabis as she was previously unaware of the views on it in the UK, and thought it would be an interesting angle to take.

“Last year I studied in California and I took a drugs and society course for a semester. I found it quite interesting and we had some really heated debates about the legalisation of cannabis in class.

“When I came back to Kingston, my tutor mentioned the topic and I quickly decided to do my dissertation on it. I didn’t know much about the views on this subject in the UK, I knew about it in America but not here.”

Benali has noticed that KU students have been particularly vocal about issues surrounding drug legalisation, and said that this has made the process much easier, with 301 students in total taking part in the survey from the last week of January until March 1.

“The most challenging part of the survey has been analysing the results. Otherwise, getting the results has been very easy in Kingston. Even just going into the university canteen, in 20 minutes I could get around 20 people to take part. I think it’s a very topical discussion within KU and students here are very willing to share their views on it.”

The survey comes just days after the Liberal Democrats revealed their plans for a regulated cannabis market and claimed that legalising the sale of the drug in specialist shops would generate £1bn a year in tax revenue.

The figure was revealed from a study carried out by a panel of experts including scientists, academics and police chiefs and also claimed that legalising cannabis would ‘reduce the harm done to users and society’.

The conclusions from the study were to be debated at the Liberal Democrats’ spring conference last weekend.

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