Weed Week

We Asked Teens if Weed Will Still Be Cool When It's Legal

We talked to the most responsible generation about Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau's plans.

by Mica Lemiski
Apr 17 2017, 5:45pm

Photo via flickr user Leah Grace

The latest generation of teens is apparently the most conservative generation since WWII. Study after study says they're less into booze, drugs, and tattoos. They want a stable career, not a passion project.

So how do post-millennials feel about legal weed coming to Canada in 2018? By the time most of them are 18, they'll be able to buy it in a store with a simple flash of an ID. No stories of sleep loss or appetite problems required.

As long as we're still looking to teens to decide what's cool, we asked a bunch of them whether they give a shit about legalization.

Kate, 16

VICE: What do you think about weed becoming legal in Canada?
Kate: I'm pretty pro-legalization. I think people hype weed up a bit too much... I don't think it's such a big deal. If people wanna smoke weed, it should be their choice and not the government's.

Do you think you'll buy it when you're legal and of age?
Yes.

Will legalization make it less "cool"?
Probably, because if it's legal, it won't be such a big deal anymore. Like right now, if someone brings weed to a party, people think, Oh, I wonder who they got that from. But when it's legal people will just think, Oh, well, they just got that from a store. Or someone bought it for them from a store. So maybe that's less exciting.

Do you think you'll feel comfortable smoking it with your parents?
Mmm, maybe. It won't be so normalized right away because I still think there's a lot of stigma surrounding it. I mean, I'd be comfortable smoking with my family. It's not a big deal. It's a relaxant and not a hardcore drug.

Jason, 15

VICE: When you first heard that weed was becoming legal, how did you feel?
Jason: At first, I wasn't open to having it legalized at all. But then I did more research and realized that if it's legal there probably won't be as many people bringing it into the country illegally, and it'll be safer for users. The pros outweigh the cons, and so now I'm more supportive of the idea.

Why weren't you open to it at first?
In elementary school, I learned about marijuana and different drugs, and all of it was given a really negative connotation. They don't teach you about the positive sides of medical marijuana or tell you about cases where people have seizures or cancer that medical marijuana can help with.

Is weed discussed at all in your family?
Yeah. So my brother and my father support marijuana if it's used for medical purposes, like if you have a serious disease that it can treat. So we don't mind it if there's a reason. But, personally, I don't like the smell of it—like, if you're going to smoke, please do it in private. You know what I mean?

How do you feel about it being legalized recreationally and not just for medical purposes?
I don't know if it's true, but if it helps our economy, I don't mind. But also, I live in British Columbia, and our fresh air is amazing. And when marijuana is legal, I don't want my fresh air and all the great things BC has to be polluted by the smell of marijuana. I mean, I don't mind weed overall, but if my fresh air is going to disappear, then I don't support it.

Do you think weed will be less "cool" once it's legal?
It really depends. I think a lot of my classmates are doing it because they're influenced by social media. They see this image and that image, and it feels like everyone is doing it. I mean, I see my friends looking at pictures of bongs during class, and it's totally… like it's bizarre to me. So I guess whether or not weed stays cool depends on how social media handles legalization. Like if it gets trendier on social media, then maybe more kids will do it.

Photo by Jake Kivanc

Angela, 17

VICE: How did you feel when you heard that weed will become legal in Canada?
Angela: Personally, I think it's pretty awesome that it's being legalized. I mean, a lot of people smoke weed, and it's a pretty normal thing where we live. And it's not like it's harmed anyone like alcohol has. With alcohol, you can get way too rowdy. You start fights or totally embarrass yourself, whereas weed lets you do better things like clean your house, chill at a party, or just feel good before going to bed.

Do many people in your circle of friends smoke pot?
Probably 50–50. Like I have my group of friends that smoke and then the group that doesn't. But I don't really fit in any specific category at school. Like, there are the "smoke pit kids," and they do it the most, but I'm really just an average student. I do it, but I also know some really good straight-A students who smoke up before going to bed because it helps with anxiety.

OK, so now that it's becoming legal and less taboo, do you think it'll become less popular? Not at all. Literally the only difference is that it won't be illegal.

And when it's legal, how will the experience of smoking weed change?
It'll be a lot nicer smoking in public, knowing that you won't have to hide it. Like now it's "quick put it away" if you see a cop car. So I guess it'll just be more relaxed, which is nice.

What do you think the biggest overall change will be when weed becomes legal?
Getting to have your own plants will be pretty awesome, but I do think that the street drug dealing is going to get worse. If drug dealers stop selling weed because it's legal, they're probably going to find other stuff to sell, right? Stuff that's obviously worse than weed.

Ethan, 17

VICE: What are your thoughts on weed becoming legal?
Ethan: In Vancouver, it's basically legal anyway. Like you're not going to get in trouble for smoking. And it's not very dangerous, either. I don't think anyone has ever died from smoking weed, and in fact, I think liquor is probably worse. So making it legal seems like the right choice. In high school, it's probably more popular than drinking, to be honest.

Oh, really? Weed over alcohol?
Oh yeah, big time. I mean, most people do a combination—alcohol plus weed—but there are definitely people who don't like to drink, and so they just smoke.

What about edibles and vaping?
Vaping has become pretty popular because it's easier than smoking. But the vast majority is still smoked.

And how do you think people's attitudes toward weed are going to change now that it's becoming legal? Would you feel comfortable smoking with your parents?
Just like I wouldn't smoke tobacco around my parents, I wouldn't smoke weed around them. Not that I smoke tobacco, but I just wouldn't feel comfortable. As for smoking weed in public, I don't think much is going to change. Making it legal isn't going to be a huge deal because people are used to it anyway, especially where we live. Like you go downtown Vancouver, it's everywhere.

So are you going to buy it once it's legal? 
Yeah, sure, why not.

Allyson, 16

VICE: What was your reaction when you first heard that marijuana was becoming legal? Allyson: I guess I just felt kind of neutral about it. But I do think it's more so a good thing than a bad one. Like I know it's really good for medicinal purposes, and no matter if it's legal or not, people are still going to get their hands on it somehow, so you might as well make it legal.

And when it's legal, do you think there will be more or less of a draw for people to smoke? Probably stay the same because I think the main draw to smoke isn't the cool factor but maybe the actual feeling of the drug? And, sure, it's illegal now, but it's also really normal. People don't brag about smoking. It's not a big deal anymore.

Has it always been not that big of a deal?
Mmm, so a few years ago, when I maybe 13, it was more of a big deal. But I think our generation is climbing toward being more low key and chill overall, so we just accept it.

Oh, it's a generational thing?
Yeah, I think that in my generation, we've never really thought of weed as something to brag about or make a big deal about. There's so much judgment everywhere, and we don't want that, so I think that's part of the reason people want to keep the weed stuff low key. I mean, if that's what you like, then that's what you like. You do you.

So are you going to buy it once it's legal?
Maybe? I mean, I'm pretty curious, but I don't imagine myself getting too deep into it or anything. Maybe like a one time thing.

Liam, 16

VICE: What do you think of weed becoming legal?
Liam: I think it's great. It's something that many have been asking for for years, and we're finally getting it. But not much is gonna change from it. Vancouver is already known as weed central; it's just gonna be a legal weed central now. The government's most likely gonna keep the system they have in place already. All they're doing now is making medical marijuana stores government run and funded. They're already taking down stores that don't fall under or go by their rules and regulations.

What is your, or your generation's, concept of weed smokers?
I'm fine with smokers. I don't smoke myself; I prefer to vape or have an edible.

Will you buy weed once it's legal for you to do so?
Yeah, probably. I only do it on occasion currently, and I'll be keeping to that. So I'll only buy it if it's to deal with anxiety or depression, or at a party.

Is weed going to be more or less "cool" once it's legal?
As long as weed will get you high and chill you out, it will always be cool. Doesn't matter whether or not it's legal. It'll just be less of a hassle getting it.

Trudeau says that legalizing marijuana is going to make it more difficult for people your age to get it. Thoughts?
I don't think that's true. If teenagers are able to get it now while it's illegal, then I'm fairly certain they'll be able to get it when it's legal.

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