Ryerson pot policies still up in smoke

Canadians will be able to smoke marijuana legally this summer, but it remains unclear how Ryerson will police its use.

Last week, the Ontario government updated plans to regulate the sale of marijuana online and at 150 stores operated by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

Under the legislation, those 19 and older in the province will be able to possess up to 30 grams of dried marijuana and grow a maximum of four house plants.

Bongs for sale at Sunshine Imports on Gerrard Street appear in the head shop’s mirror, which is decorated with a marijuana leaf sticker. (Photo by Maggie Macintosh)

The House of Commons first introduced legislation in April to legalize and regulate the drug starting July 1, 2018.

Provinces are now establishing regulations for its sale and use.

However, it is still unclear how universities, including Ryerson, will regulate on-campus marijuana usage.

“We simply don’t have answers quite yet,” Ryerson’s public affairs manager Johanna VanderMaas told the Ryersonian in an email.

“As details and guidelines emerge regarding marijuana legalization, we will certainly be very engaged and involved in discussing our own internal policies.”

If passed, the Ontario Cannabis Act will also ban the use of cannabis in public places like Gould Street.

VanderMaas said that maintaining an appropriate learning environment is a priority for the university.

Ryerson currently has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to marijuana usage.

“Given right now it’s an illegal substance, it’s treated as such,” said Simon Finn, Ryerson’s student conduct officer.

“Once that changes, I’m sure there’ll be updates and information from the university as to what’s expected.”

Ryerson’s Student Code of Non-Academic Conduct states community members, “shall not possess, provide, or consume illegal drugs.”

A woman walks by Toronto’s Leaf Dispensary on Church Street holding a Ryerson University Campus Store bag.
(Photo by Maggie Macintosh)

The code applies to all those on-campus. It also applies to individuals off-campus if they declare they represent the university or participate in a course or university event outside Ryerson’s grounds.

Among the code’s penalties are written apologies, community service, bans from Ryerson buildings or areas, course de-enrolment and expulsion.

“I haven’t smoked on campus but I have seen it and I smell it almost every day,” third-year philosophy student Yulian Starchenko said.

Starchenko said the two main areas where people smoke pot are the quad and the ServiceHub balcony.

Philosophy majors like Starchenko are the most likely university students to roll joints during study breaks. That’s according to the 2018 Maclean’s university study.

The study also found that 33 per cent of Ryerson students use pot at least once a year.

Bishop’s University in Quebec had the highest rate of usage among the 49 universities at 60 per cent.

There were 22,384 respondents to this year’s Maclean’s survey and rankings system, which asked students multiple-choice questions about their university experience. Toking was self-reported.

Only three per cent of Ryerson respondents said they use marijuana on a daily basis.

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