Vote Ridder: Cannabis-Friendly Zones

Vote Ridder from March 9 to 13.

IT IS TIME FOR REAL ACTION

INTRO

Quality of life on campus can be improved.

As your director, I would advocate to create a committee with Humber College that would be in charge of drawing up a blueprint for a safe zone(s) on campus where students, staff and faculty would be free to smoke cannabis and vape.

First off, such an area would contain the smoking to one spot with consequences for those that partake outside the zone. It would actually limit the areas where smoking occurs anyways.

Secondly, it would create a safe spot for the smoking to take place and even community can be built without stigma for something that is nationally legal for those 19 and up.

BACKGROUND

On October 17, 2017, the federal government legalized cannabis smoking across Canada. At that time, Humber College implemented a total ban on cannabis smoking that was reinforced in a 2019 policy (source).

However, at other post-secondary institutions across Canada (source), cannabis smoking zones were implemented with great success. The University of British Columbia, a campus of the U of Alberta and others have brought in toke-friendly areas.

RESEARCH

Cannabis smoking is inevitable on campuses, but by creating zones, research shows that the smoking that would happen anyways is contained and those who wish to avoid it can do so with more ease.

Zach Walsh, a psychology professor at UBC, said schools that ban smoking should not be continuing the “misguided prohibition” of cannabis (source).

“What’s important to keep in mind is that we have some really healthy, productive, active young people who are also using cannabis and they’re doing it now, they’ve been doing it before legalization and they’re certainly going to continue to do it after.”

— Zach Walsh, UBC

Walsh, who studies the use of cannabis in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, says some students report using cannabis over alcohol because they feel that it’s safer, it doesn’t cause hangovers and they feel they are less likely to get into accidents or do something they regret. Read more from Walsh here.

Kira London-Nadeau, a board member of the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, also says campus-wide bans on cannabis are too restrictive.

In an effort to protect non-cannabis users from second-hand smoke and from being subjected to impaired users, she says universities aren’t accommodating students who will want to legally use cannabis.

— Kira London-Nadeau, CSSDP

She says recent data indicate about one-third of people aged 15 to 24 have used cannabis in the previous three months.

“If you are going to protect non-users, then you also need to protect users by giving them spaces to consume,” said London-Nadeau, a master’s student at the University of Montréal. Consumption lounges – just like campus bars – would allow students to use a soon-to-be legal product without breaking campus rules, while also allowing for opportunities to share health and safety information about cannabis use, she said.

For more information, I encourage you to check out this article from CTV News and this article from The Conversation.

IMPLEMENTATION

We need a taskforce or committee.

What other schools who have implemented cannabis zones have done is establish working groups who have representatives from various stakeholders on it.

To get this done, we would need to approve moving ahead with a strategy from IGNITE at the Board of Directors. We would then start reaching out to Humber College administration and various other departments and groups to gather a committee together.

This committee would then work to find a way forward while I would continue strong advocating for the zones as an individual. I propose also having delegates at committee from among the student and staff bodies to give their take and experiences.

This is Real Action on a real issue I can’t wait to tackle if you will join me and Vote Ridder from March 9 to 13.