How Torontonians are feeling about the impending legalization of weed

How Torontonians are feeling about the impending legalization of weed

Marijuana streeter at Yonge-Dundas Square (Images: Giordano Ciampini)

Weed was on a lot of people’s minds during October’s federal election (in fact, sometimes it was the only thing on their minds). Justin Trudeau promised to legalize the stuff if he became prime minister. Now that he officially has the job, a nation wonders: when will all of us be able to smoke with impunity? We went to Yonge-Dundas Square, where all walks of downtown life collide, to ask people what they think about legalization, and how much they’ll smoke if it happens.

Ikram Syed (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Ikram Syed, 25, student
“I’m against it. I was taught from childhood that it’s unhealthy, that you won’t breathe properly, and that you’ll get asthma. And the drug is like a ladder; you start with marijuana and then go on to other drugs. But if I see all my friends start smoking marijuana a month or two after it’s legal, I’ll maybe try it out once, just to see how good or bad it is.”

Nallieze Rahim (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Nallieza Rahim, 34, recently unemployed (was a senior manager at Scotiabank)
“I think it will be good for the economy. Like with alcohol, legalization won’t encourage others to smoke just because it’s legal. People can make their own decisions. Personally, I don’t do drugs. If I wanted to take marijuana, I would go get it from friends.”

Hayley Macintosh-Laroque (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Hayley MacIntosh-LaRoque, 21, student
“I don’t think it should be illegal in the first place. People should be educated about it. Weed will probably be more accessible once it’s no longer all under the table, but that also means it might be more expensive, and all my dealer friends might lose business.”

Yasmin Kijowski (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Yasmin Kijowski, 21, student
“[Weed] is basically legal anyway. It’s not like we have to look over our shoulders when we smoke now. When I was 16, 18 years old, it was much easier to get than booze. If it were actually legal, I would probably smoke the same amount and get my stuff from the same place. I like going to my dealer. He’s a cool dude.”

Irene Oshust (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Irene Oshust, 18, student
“I believe legalization is good. I don’t think there will be more users. Just more open users. I do smoke, but legalization won’t change my consumption amount.”

Kevin Grant (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Kevin Grant, age and occupation undisclosed
“If they have rules and regulations to protect consumers and to help people who need it medically, it’s the way to go. But a dime costing $15 is no good. For me, legalization can very possibly change my day-to-day. Like, I can smoke a joint right now, but an officer or a security guard can approach me and do whatever. Maybe that will change and people will be harassed and arrested less.”

Troy Jackson (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Troy Jackson, 45, singer and performer
“Like with gay marriage, legalization will change society’s perception of weed, and people will stop seeing users as druggies. I would rather someone be high on weed than drunk and bothering me. I don’t smoke personally, but if pot becomes legal it shouldn’t just be white men who profit from something that used to put black and brown people in jail.”

Jo-Anne Happe (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Jo-Anne Happe, 55, energy compliance analyst from Calgary
“I see both positives and negatives. It’s positive for people who need it for medicinal purposes and for people in pain. It would also be good if youth who want to try it can get it from a safe place instead of sneaking around and experimenting with bad people. But weed is worse for your body than tobacco and we should encourage young people not to start in the first place.”

Silvia Tonadalla (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Silvia Tondalla, 48, student from Italy
“In some ways, it’s correct. If you smoke a lot, it can be an addiction. For young people, it’s not good, like cigarettes. For medicine it is correct. I don’t smoke, but if I were somewhere it’s legal, I might smoke with friends.”

Rebecca Pompilio (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Rebecca Pompilio, 18, student
“I think legalization will change people’s perception of the drug. It’s not dangerous and shouldn’t even be illegal. It’s not like we’re legalizing meth. Like Trudeau said, ‘It’s 2015.’ Legalizing weed would benefit the economy, and there would be some control over its distribution.”