Substance use guidelines in place as official legalization comes into play next month
There is no formal policy on cannabis just yet.
As Canada braces for the legalization of cannabis on Oct. 17, colleges and universities are developing their own policies to deal with the new environment.
George Brown College (GBC) is no different. While there will be no official policy in place for the 2018-2019 school year, there are guidelines that have been developed.
As GBC vice-president, student success, Chris McGrath explains, it is an ongoing process.
“The guidelines were developed by a team of people within the college, including a lot of folks from within the student services support areas who have a lot of interaction and experience working with students who may or may not be facing challenges or opportunities relating to substance use.”
So, the question is, what are the guidelines? As of Oct. 17, you can possess 30 grams of legal cannabis on your person. However, as McGrath made clear, there are limits or standards to be adhered to at GBC.
“What the guidelines will allow us to enforce is what the law doesn’t allow for,” McGrath explains. “So, if an individual is going to be smoking cannabis on campus, that isn’t permitted under the law, nor is that permitted, actually, under our smoke-free campus policy.”
GBC worked closely with other colleges in the province as well as some universities on developing the guidelines. McGrath noted, however, that each school has their own geographical considerations when examining the approach to take with such an issue.
“George Brown College is situated in a dense urban centre, the city is on our doorstep, so the ways in which we look at the regulation of cannabis use is going to be different than a college or university that’s suburban, or perhaps, more rural where they have large green spaces and fields to have to worry about or attend to,” said McGrath.
“We wanted to make sure that the guidelines that we first introduced were done so in a way that’s non-judgemental, that they reduce harm, and that they actually identify ways in which an individual can continue to exercise their own choice, but do so in a way that’s not going to be harmful to their health or safety,” he added.
McGrath made it clear this is an evolving issue and that there is no firm date for the implementation of a formal policy. Essentially, the guidelines are in place until GBC and other institutions can monitor how this new legalization landscape will unfold.
“As the legislation evolves, as it interplays around medical use, around the use of cannabis for edibles, we’re going to have to sort of monitor that and adapt our timelines in thinking about a policy down the road. That’s why guidelines give us a bit more space in order to work with what is a really nimble issue,” said McGrath.
George Brown College recently implemented a smoke-free policy, prohibiting smoking and vaping on school property, which took effect on August 20.