Quarter of Bath students smoking weed weekly, survey suggests

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In a survey of 436 students conducted by bathimpact, it was found that 64.4% of University of Bath students have taken cannabis at some point in their life, and that 73.6% of students support legalisation of cannabis in the UK. It was also found that 45.4% of Bath students know someone who has had a negative experience from taking cannabis. The full report of the surveys findings can be found here.

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70% of students said they were in favour of legalisation

The figure of 64.4% is more than double the national average of 26% of 16 – 24s year-olds who admitted to taking cannabis in the British Drugs Survey 2014 (conducted by The Observer and Opium Research).

This difference could be explained somewhat due to our research being conducted online and promoted via social media, so there is likely an element of self-selective bias. However, the British Drugs Survey also showed that 40% of drug users were in social grades AB, so the high usage could be reflective of Bath being an affluent area.

Of the students that claimed to have taken cannabis, the majority are infrequent users who smoke on a less than monthly basis (26.0%) or used to take the drug but no longer do (31.3%). However, there are also a significant number of students who smoke on a regular basis, with 25.6% of those who have taken cannabis claiming that they currently do so on at least a weekly basis.

The bathimpact survey also found that 58.7% of University of Bath students have ethical or safety concerns over buying cannabis from the illegal market, and this is reflected in the lower number of students who claimed to have bought cannabis from ‘a dealer’. Of the 436 students surveyed, 35.1% of respondents claimed they had purchased cannabis from ‘a dealer’, almost identical to the national average of 35% of 16 – 24s (The British Drugs Survey, 2014), whilst 21.3% had done so in Bath.

The University policy towards illegal drugs is that the police should be called whenever they are discovered, unless it is clear that a class ‘C’ drug is involved and that a small quantity is involved. Investigative interviews may also be carried out allowing the University to carry out its own disciplinary proceedings. If in the first offence the University is satisfied the drugs are for personal use and are not in the most serious categories, there is the discretion to give no more than a written warning, however on repeat offences there will be automatic referral to the University Secretary to take action under the formal disciplinary procedures and, if in residences, the student will be required to leave their accommodation and pay the usual termination charge.

The University Senate has also attempted to ban legal highs on campus for Health and Safety reasons, and have been holding packages delivered to Student Accommodation that they believe to be legal highs, including Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas).

The Students’ Union has fought the decision as the University Senate does not have the authority to ban a legal product, whilst also arguing the current arrangement violates the Postal Services Act. The Academic Body has also supported the Student’s Union on this and the motion was blocked, however the Student’s Union has agreed to hold an awareness campaign over the dangers of legal highs.

Earlier in March, police discovered £100,000 worth of cannabis plants at a rented house in Twerton, Bath, in what Avon and Somerset Police called a “sophisticated” cannabis factory.

This is the second significant find in the area recently, with officers seizing nearly 200 plants at a house in Poolemead Road. After the second discovery, Avon and Somerset Police claimed that “This is not a back-street dealer peddling in a few pounds of cannabis. This is serious, organised crime and I’m very eager for members of the public to report any of their suspicions to me.”

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Thomas Gane is the former Online Editor (2014-15) and bite Editor (2012-13) at bathimpact. He writes about popular culture, music, the University of Bath and both local and national politics.

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