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It’s high time we learned more about weed

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By Jacklyn Gilmor 

Weed legalization is only a few months away, and some students think Ryerson should be educating students more on it. However, the university’s cannabis policies are still up in the air.

Ryerson has formed “an internal working group” to examine its policies and health promotion programming surrounding pot use.

“We are working very hard to ensure that we are ready for… the new legislation while continuing to provide an appropriate learning, teaching, and work environment,” a Ryerson spokesperson said in an email to The Eye.

According to a Maclean’s survey released in October, 33 per cent of Ryerson students said they smoke marijuana. About 10 per cent said they use it up to once a month.

So should Ryerson be doing more to educate students?

“I have faith in Ryerson students that they will use it responsibly,” said Ryerson Students’ Union president Susanne Nyaga in an email to The Eye. She said Ryerson should “ensure that security, students and staff understand what legalization looks like on campus. Ryerson [should also] deliver a clear message around how current policies or the non-academic code of conduct might be impacted.”

Aiman Farooq, a third-year criminology student, said more pot education is a good idea.

“Just because it is going to be legalized in July, that would be a smart thing to do. A lot of people don’t know what they’re doing and what the consequences are,” she said.

“We’re definitely behind in terms of some of the research that’s been done,” said Alison McMahon, who is the CEO of Cannabis At Work. The company coordinates training and jobs in the weed industry, from retail positions to growers and technicians.

“Some of the universities across Canada are bringing in different programming on the cultivation and operations side,” McMahon said. “That’s potentially a really exciting entry point for students getting into the cannabis industry in the future.”

The University of Guelph is one such school. Researchers from the university published a paper in October on growing indoor medical marijuana, CBC reported. They examined the optimization of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main component that gets you high.

Other schools are hosting panels. The University of Toronto is hosting one about the impacts of legalization on March 28.

At Ryerson, one associate professor has done extensive research into the plant and its uses. Lesley Campbell works in the department of chemistry and biology. She has worked with Tweed Marijuana Inc., studying the best conditions to grow weed in. She has also researched medical marijuana with Beleave Inc. Campbell was unavailable for comment on her work.

As for educating students, the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre hosted a panel on the future of cannabis last April. Hosts were experts in marijuana across various fields, including law, medicine and mental health. Former justice minister Anne McLellan spoke about the meaning of legalization, saying that pot will likely be regulated similarly to alcohol and tobacco.

“I think that’s a really good shift, that we’re starting to see higher education participate in cannabis,” said McMahon. “It helps to legitimize it as we move through the legalization process.”

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