UTM students can expect renewed cannabis awareness campaigns with the start of the new academic year, as U of T’s universal smoke-free policy continues to ban the smoking of tobacco and cannabis on campus.

Since the legalization of cannabis on October 17, 2018, Canadian universities have been hard at work educating students on the effects of cannabis use. UTM continues to run information campaigns to inform students, staff, and faculty on health and safety issues surrounding cannabis. UTM has also equipped student life professionals at the Health & Wellness Centre with information to answer questions about the drug.

Students in Ontario can obtain cannabis from 24 legal retailers across Ontario, excluding Mississauga. On December 2018, the Mississauga City Council voted 10-2 to opt-out of the city’s retail cannabis motion. Brampton was the only city in the Peel Region to opt-in and allow cannabis retail stores to open in their city this year.

Students seeking to obtain cannabis must be of legal age, 19, or older. International students enrolling before the age of 19 must be aware of the age restrictions affecting consumption and possession. International students must also be aware of international travel and its legal implications regarding cannabis possession.

Provincial law further limits public possession to 30 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent). However, cannabis consumption is still prohibited in all university buildings, libraries, and athletic facilities, including indoor public or public areas altogether. Students residing on campus can review residence policies for official smoking rules and regulations.

Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President of Human Resources and Equity, said in an interview with UTM News that U of T remains committed to ensuring safe and healthy workplaces for staff. For students, she recommends that they “visit their campus Health & Wellness Centre to discuss their questions. If cannabis use is interfering with their academic or day-to-day lives, that’s a sign they may need to talk to someone about their limits.”

Cannabis trends have recently become prevalent in local news too. In August, Peel Police reported a decrease of 533 criminal drug charges from their 2017 report, approximately a 20 per cent reduction, which they attribute to the cannabis legalization in 2018. Offences reported less often were related to possession, trafficking, production and/or distribution of illegal drugs. By December, Peel Police’s 2019 annual report will include a full year overview of drug offences without cannabis.

The positive statistic arrives in the wake of Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie’s concerns over retail cannabis stores in Mississauga.

Provincial legislation currently dictates all regulations around retail cannabis stores, including that stores must remain at least 150 metres away from public and private schools. However, Mayor Crombie said to Mississauga News that Mississauga will hold-off from bringing cannabis stores to Mississauga unless municipalities are allowed to impose greater location restrictions.

After meeting with Finance Minister Rod Phillips to discuss the issue, Mayor Crombie tweeted that she asked “that cities be given greater control over where cannabis stores are located. Mississauga may decide to opt-in in the future, but we need more of a say in how these businesses operate in our city.”

Despite UTM students not being allowed to smoke cannabis on campus, cannabis courses have sprung up in colleges and universities across the country. The Cannabis Council of Canada estimates that 12 post-secondary schools have launched programs relating to marijuana, which cover topics such as product research, cannabis laws, and common business practices.

Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education has launched an introductory business course on cannabis. The course, CZEN 420: The Business of Cannabis, will “introduce students to relevant entrepreneurship principles such as opportunity recognition and evaluation, cannabis legislation at the provincial and federal levels” and “financing for cannabis businesses.”

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