Photo: Deanna Krueger

Ryerson launches cannabis public education campaign

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By Tyler Griffin

Ryerson University’s health and wellness department has launched a campaign to educate the student body about cannabis use and its effects, now that Ryerson students can light up legally on campus.

The campaign is taking a multi-strategy approach through posters, social media platforms, online resources and ads on TVs around campus. Additionally, ambassadors from the Student Health Assistance and Resilience Program (SHARP) will talk to students on campus about the health implications of cannabis.

Juannittah Kamera, the coordinator for Ryerson’s health promotion programs, said a podcast on the topic of cannabis will be coming out soon too.

“We are educating students so they are aware of the student conduct, legal, academic and health implications of using cannabis,” Kamera said. “By informing students of what they can and cannot do, as well as the very real learning and health impacts of cannabis, they are able to make an informed choice.”

Brad Poulos, resident weed expert and instructor of Ryerson’s Business of Cannabis course, said Ryerson hasn’t spent enough time talking about the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. “It seems that we’re still really focused on the harm-reduction side of things,” he said.

Cannabis has the potential to reduce stress and help people sleep, with the right strains and in the right quantity, according to Poulos. He added that Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, is effective at reducing swelling and inflammation.

“We’re starting to learn that so many problems inside the body actually have to do with inflammation…I think we’re going to start seeing [CBD] proliferate,” he said about the future of the drug being used for medicinal purposes.

Poulos said there are people who should stay away from cannabis, such as pregnant women and people predisposed to psychosis or paranoia. “But I also think [Ryerson and the government] should teach the other side,” he added.

Ryerson brought together a cross-functional group called the Legalization of Cannabis Steering Committee back in January 2018. The group’s purpose was to examine the university’s internal policies, procedures, practices and health promotion programming in anticipation of cannabis legalization.

Tristan Sauer, a third-year new media student, said although he believes he knows most of the information surrounding cannabis use already, he appreciates the campaign’s efforts.

Sauer said he believes the campaign is important so students have information about helplines, health and safety and also the rules of what you can and can’t do now that it’s legal.

“I think that cannabis, like all other drugs, comes with some form of health risk. Now that it’s legal, it does leave room for some students that maybe haven’t tried it, to abuse it in some ways,” Sauer said.

Teen cannabis use in Canada consistently ranks among the highest in the world. A 2013 UNICEF study shows that Canada has the highest per capita consumption rate among young people aged 11 to 15.

“I think Canadian teens were already pretty well informed,” Poulos said. “But boy if they’re not by now, heaven forbid.”

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