Earlier this semester, a working group was formed to look at how the incoming federal cannabis legalization will affect university policies on both the UNB Fredericton and Saint John campuses.

Bill C-45, Canada’s so-called Cannabis Act, was introduced in April 2017 as the cornerstone of the Liberal government’s plans to legalize the use of recreational marijuana—a campaign promise that garnered some of the most attention when Justin Trudeau ran for Prime Minister in the 2015 federal election.   

Laurelle LeVert, associate vice-president Saint John, is chair of the working group, which includes two student representatives.

According to LeVert, the group is going through the policies of the federal and provincial government and comparing them with the policies of the university in order to see what modifications might need to be made to UNB’s policies once cannabis is legalized.

For example, UNB’s current smoking policy was designed for cigarette smokers and does not clarify if the same rules apply for marijuana smokers. LeVert said there are a lot of factors that need to be considered, and they’ve sought provincial partners, from newly formed CannabisNB and elsewhere, to help present all of the information that will be required to make informed decisions.

Kenya Plut is the president of UNB Saint John’s Student Representative Council (SRC) and sits on the working group as a student representative. She said she was surprised by how much thought and planning was going into the preparation process.

 C“I didn’t really think about the effect of cannabis legalization on campuses or on public at all,” said Plut.

“We’ve spent quite a bit of time discussing edibles, which really shocked me because it’s not something I would have thought of at all. It’s the same with medical marijuana users—where are they going to smoke? Especially those living in residence.”

“I think I may have a more lax approach to marijuana usage and as a result I think I bring a more passive approach, something that a lot of students seem to possess,” said Plut.

“I don’t think many students have really thought about what would happen on campus when cannabis is legalized, and so I am just trying to sit with an open mind and try and figure out what we are going to do moving forward.”

Although Plut is graduating at the end of this term, the working group will still be active and said said she expects incoming president of the SRC Samuel Palmer to take her place.

“Everyone around the table has differing opinions on what to do and how to proceed so it’s pretty interesting to hear all the thoughts. I’m not really sure what I expected coming into it, but I’m definitely learning a lot,” said Plut.

LeVert said that, as chair of the working group, she’s responsible for collecting the feedback the working group provides based on the information that they’ve been considering. This in turn will be compiled into a report that can be used to make recommendations to the President’s Office on what policy changes should be made.