Nearly 3 weeks ago, Canada became the second country in the world, aside from Uruguay, to legalize marijuana production, sales, and consumption. This may not seem too surprising for Canadians given that it has been a major topic of discussion since Trudeau’s election as leader of the Liberal party in 2015. However, the Canadian government is now in a tricky position. The legalization of marijuana was seen as an opportunity to stamp out the black market by providing a safer way for adults to make their purchases, but also with the risks of increasing accessibility of marijuana to the younger population. At an international level, countries such as Russia, China and the United States that have stricter views on the legalization of marijuana, could cause tension between countries in the future. Whether you plan to take part or not, this decision will have an influence in our lives in the near or far future.

So, what is legal as of October 17th, 2018? Depending on the provincial laws and restrictions, in Ontario if you are at least 19 years of age, you are able to possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis in public, buy from a provincially-licensed retailer, grow up to 4 cannabis plants per residence, and make cannabis products at home.

Now, you may be wondering how this may affect students on campus across the nation. A 23-year old University of Toronto graduate shared her thoughts of the impact on students with The Global and Mail. She believes for many students, the legalization of cannabis seems to have no impact on their campus life, mainly because if students wanted to get their hands-on cannabis, they found a way to do so even without its legalization. According to Statistics Canada, the use of marijuana has more than doubled since 1985, with 28% of 18 to 24-year olds admitting to using and possessing within the previous year. After its legalization however, reports show that cannabis users are expected to buy more cannabis than they did before, which looks anything, but promising for the younger population. Of greatest concern, is the growing trend of binge drinking across university campuses, with well-documented evidence of its relation to risk-associated behaviours such as impaired-driving and aggression. The addition of marijuana legalization amplifies the current alcohol-related risk associated behaviour and is definitely a topic of discussion that needs to be had within universities and researchers across the nation.

In terms of travel, what might we face if leaving the country? The legalization of cannabis does not change Canada’s border rules. Transporting cannabis across Canada’s international borders whether for recreational or medicinal use is still illegal and can result in serious criminal penalties at home or abroad. This applies even when travelling to places like Uruguay or certain states in the U.S that have decriminalized or legalized cannabis.

So, what are the current rules in place for marijuana use at Western? According to a statement issued by Western, the following rules apply:

  • No smoking cannabis on campus and at designated smoking areas, decided by Western’s Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee
  • Must be 19 years of age to consume cannabis of any form
  • Amount of cannabis an individual can possess must not be greater than what is allowed by law
  • Cannabis plants are not allowed to be grown on any residences or elsewhere at Western
  • Food or drinks containing cannabis cannot be made in campus residences
  • Distribution and the sale of cannabis to underage students is not permitted on Western property

As students, its our job to keep ourselves informed about any potential effects legalization of marijuana has on our day-to-day lives, and to make well-informed decisions.

Here are some important resources related to the legalization of cannabis at a federal, provincial and campus level:

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/campaigns/cannabis.html

https://www.ontario.ca/page/cannabis-legalization

https://news.westernu.ca/2018/10/western-issues-information-cannabis-campus/

 

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