Ontario universities preparing for legal weed

Many Ontario students will be hitting more than just the books this fall.

With recreational cannabis set to become legal in October, the province’s halls of higher learning are scrambling to spark up rules to govern the consumption of the drug.

At the University of Toronto, plans are in place to apply existing rules for tobacco and alcohol use.

For example, says U of T’s senior director of student success Heather Kelly, smoking tobacco inside residences is already against the rules, and marijuana will be no different.

“What we’re doing is leveraging existing policies to respond to the changes,” she said.

“The smoking of cannabis is no different than smoking. Full stop.”

C-45, the bill legalizing recreational marijuana use, goes into effect on Oct. 17 — a little over a month after the beginning of the fall term.

The new law permits adults — aged 19 and older in Ontario — to possess and share 30 grams of legally purchased or grown cannabis, and to only smoke on private property. Ontario’s laws will permit people to grow their own, with a limit of four individual plants per residence.

Smoking weed will be banned in public spaces, workplaces or inside vehicles.

At the U of T, Kelly said students will be prohibited from growing cannabis in dorm rooms, as well as receiving cannabis by mail — echoing the university’s existing ban on in-res liquor deliveries.

While the sale of cannabis edibles won’t be legal in Canada until next year, Kelly said university policy will be set once the province makes known their laws regarding weed-infused delectables.

What the whole legalization issue is allowing the university to take advantage of, Kelly said, is the opportunity to reinforce safe habits within their students — including the importance of staying within their limits and knowing where to go to seek help.

“As educators, we want to take a learning stance with our students,” she said.

“We want them to know what to do if they find themselves or a friend in trouble, and how to be a good friend and how to recognize signs that somebody may need assistance.”

Other Toronto universities weren’t as clear as to their plans for legalization.

In an e-mailed statement, Ryerson would only say they’re “getting ready” for October’s legalization, and that policies are currently under examination by an internal committee.

York University’s Janice Walls told the Toronto Sun the school plans on continuing to comply with existing provincial smoking legislations, but like Ryerson, is still firming up official policy.

Compared to the rest of Canada, Ontario universities lag behind in terms of recreational marijuana use.

Maclean’s 2018 University Rankings lists Queen’s in the No. 6 spot in overall weed use by students, at 48%.

That’s compared to 60% at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Que.

Ottawa’s Carleton University ranked 10th at 43%, while Trent, Laurier, Western and the University of Guelph all came in at 12th (41%,). Lakehead and Nipissing tied for the 14th spot.

Ryerson ranked 20th (33%,) York 22nd (29%) and the University of Toronto 23rd (28%.)

(via torontosun.com)