Weed on campus: new policies following new legislation

What are ‘weed’ going to do?

Weed will officially be legalized in Canada on Oct. 17, 2018. However, the Cannabis/Marijuana section of the University of Winnipeg Campus Living Contract sets restrictions that make it difficult for students - especially those living in residence - to consume cannabis products.

Jennifer Trotman, the campus living director at the University of Winnipeg (U of W), says even though the legalization of marijuana next month treads new ground, the U of W will closely follow the rules of the provincial legislation while also taking an open and transparent stance toward marijuana use.

According to the Campus Living Contract, students are prohibited from “smoking, vaping, bong use or any other cannabis inhalation. This extends to cannabis (use) for medicinal purposes.”

Trotman says that in her experience, other forms of medicinal consumption, such as capsule pills, have not been a problem in the past.

Though this is for safety reasons, Trotman says, it presents a challenge for students who do choose to consume cannabis products to find a safe and legal place to do so.

“Allowing students to smoke inside their dorm rooms could be a potential safety hazard,” Steven Klassen, a U of W student says. “They should create some sort of area to allow students to consume cannabis in a safe environment.”

“Since marijuana impairs the ability to drive, (these safe spaces for residents to consume cannabis), should be in close proximity to the dorms,” Klassen says. The space should be “a well-ventilated area with no immediate fire hazards to ensure the safety of the participants.”

Klassen also says limiting access to the area will ensure that only people who have permission and are legally permitted to consume cannabis will use the area.

The contract also prohibits baking and cooking with cannabis. Trotman explains this is because kitchens in residence are in shared areas.

“Our facilities have many people living in residence, including children,” she says. “Our lounges are attached to the kitchens, so we want to make sure that everyone is welcome and inclusive in our community.”

Trotman encourages students who do choose to use cannabis to use Canada’s Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines as a tool to stay safe. Some tips within the guidelines include being educated in identifying high- and low-risk cannabis products, as well as avoiding harmful smoking practices.

“Our focus is on harm reduction, and the best way to do that is to bring awareness and educate our students as well,” Trotman says.

“Our focus is our students. Regardless of if it happens on or off our campus, within or outside of the rules, we want to ensure the safety of our students by sending the message and opening the discussion about cannabis use.”

Kevin Rosen, the executive director of marketing and communications at the U of W, would like to remind students that the consumption of cannabis products is not permitted anywhere on campus.

“The University of Winnipeg has a no-smoking policy, which prohibits smoking and vaping on campus. Provincial law also prohibits smoking cannabis in public places, including on sidewalks. It can’t be sold or advertised on campus,” Rosen says.

Canada’s Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines can be found on the Canada Public Health Association’s website under “Policy and Position Statements.”

Published in Volume 73, Number 4 of The Uniter (September 27, 2018)

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