By Maeve Bunga
Following the legalization of cannabis on October 17, weed seems to be the thing on everyone’s minds. This has led to the resurgence of Ryerson’s Sewer Stoners group.
Founded in the late sixties, the group was started by students looking for an inconspicuous spot to smoke on campus. Benji Backwood, a second-year student was the genius who decided the best place to smoke weed was in plain sight, disguised by the steam that naturally billows from Gould Street sewer grates.
The club started with five members, and as their revolutionary idea caught on, an estimated 15 per cent of Ryerson students from 1969-75 took part in sewer smoking at least once. The trend became noticeable as the clouds of “steam” coming from the grates got bigger and bigger.
Students from the Sewer Stoner era say they remember days where walking across certain parts of the campus was like walking through a cloud. People began to eventually catch on as the weed smell that was always in the air and the students that came to class smelling vaguely like a toilet.
The group was officially disbanded in 1975 when Ryerson officials had the sewer grates replaced by heavier, larger grates that were impossible to lift.
But in the past few months, the clouds of steam have been bigger than usual, and a few students have been spotted with wet shoes and ankles, indicating a walk in approximately one foot of water.
With cannabis becoming increasingly popular these days, it’s no surprise that a stoners’ group would come back. The question is, how are students getting into the sewers? The grates cannot be lifted without the kind of equipment only used by city workers.
This mystery is still unsolved, but since cannabis has officially become legal, the Sewer Stoners group is expected to once again disband. Now that it’s legal to smoke weed on campus, smoking in sewers seems like a waste of time and energy.
Since October 17, the clouds coming from sewers have been smaller, sometimes even nonexistent. One student, a self-proclaimed member of the renewed Sewer Stoner group who asked to remain anonymous, said he doesn’t miss standing in the damp, trash-filled water every time he wants to smoke. The same student declined to comment on the lifting of heavy sewer grates, stating that he could never reveal a club secret like that.