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Cannabis on campus: colleges and universities prep for legalization

Last Updated Oct 15, 2018 at 2:40 pm EDT

As the country prepares for marijuana legalization that will have wide-ranging impacts across industries and businesses, colleges and universities are also looking to brace for the bud.

CityNews reached out to a number of institutions to find out how they’re prepping for the new recreational marijuana regime coming into effect Oct. 17.

George Brown College
Toronto, Ontario

As of Aug. 20, George Brown has gone entirely smoke-free. Spokeswoman Joyann Callender says smoking or vaping any tobacco and cannabis substances is prohibited anywhere on campus, including the student residence. The policy applies to everyone on college property.

There will be exemptions for “indigenous traditional and sacred medicines.” The college’s FAQ page says “exemptions will be granted under the college policy: “Aboriginal use of Traditional Medicines” to ensure that the use of such substances is done in the safest possible and most respectful manner.”

Ryerson University
Toronto, Ontario

Ryerson University does not have an official policy in place yet, but says it is currently prepping for marijuana legalization.

“Ryerson is in the process of getting ready for the new Cannabis legislation,” said spokeswoman Johanna VanderMaas. “There is an internal working committee examining the University’s administrative policies that are impacted as a result of legalization.”

Humber College
Toronto, Ontario

Humber College says it will use its current smoking policy as a guide for dealing with cannabis on campus.

Spokesman Andrew Leopold says marijuana use on Humber campuses will not be permitted.

“As part of Humber’s smoking policy, smoking of any kind is prohibited in any enclosed public space or enclosed workplace on campus,” he says. “This includes all college buildings, structures or facilities and student residence. With the legalization of cannabis in October, growing, baking, smoking or selling cannabis on Humber property or in residence is also prohibited.”

University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia

Students moving in to on-campus residence facilities at the University of British Columbia are expected to sign a contract on move-in day.

Andrew Parr from UBC Student Housing and Hospitality says the contract has been updated to include new policies about the use of marijuana.

“We do not allow the smoking of marijuana in the residence facilities or on the grounds that residents are responsible for,” he says.

Brandon Univeristy
Brandon, Manitoba

The Brandon University campus is considered public property in Manitoba law. As provincial legislation prohibits smoking and vaping cannabis in most public places, this would include the Brandon campus.

Justin Shannon, president of Brandon University’s student union says there should be a location on campus for students to smoke in accordance with the law. He and the union plan to raise the issue with the university’s board of governors.

The university’s dean of students says a new policy, which is expected to be approved within the next few weeks, may eventually change and exemptions could be granted for medical purposes.

Concordia University,
Montreal, Quebec

Concordia University says it is currently examining its existing policies.

“(We) will make whatever adjustments are necessary to ensure that (our policies) continue to conform to federal and provincial legislation as of Oct. 17,” saysFiona Downey, senior advisor, public affairs and deputy spokesperson. “Quebec law is clear: people are not allowed to smoke marijuana on campus.”

University of Montreal
Montreal, Quebec

Universite de Montreal says that as Quebec law prohibits pot on campus, it is prohibited at the university. They are currently working on finalizing their rules as they prepare for Oct. 17.

McGill University
Montreal, Quebec

McGill University says a work group was created over the summer to create “high-level, interim guidelines on how McGill will handle possession and consumption on campus.”

The list of guidelines is the first step towards creating more permanent cannabis policies which they say will be developed in collaboration with key stakeholders in the fall.

The interim guidelines say that in Quebec, cannabis consumption is prohibited in “premises or buildings of a university-level institution” and smoking/vaping as well as consumption of cannabis in any other form is prohibited on campus. Growing, distribution, production and serving of cannabis is also banned.

The list includes rules about possession of cannabis products on campus, which is allowed “to the extent permitted by law” except on the premises of a childcare centre or spaces children might occupy temporarily. Students below 18 are not allowed to possess cannabis on campus.

The university does make an exception when it comes to possession of cannabis for research purposes “which will have specific, exceptional, controlled, and defined rules and conditions set.”


With files from The Canadian Press