Canadian Universities and Marijuana: How Will They Handle It?

Heading into his third year of university, declining grades paired with a mounting workload were almost enough to convince Halifax student Stephen Trainer to drop out of his program.
When the stress of school was leading to progressively restless nights, Trainer’s doctor prescribed melatonin, a sleep aid. Frustrated by the side effects and an ever-increasing dosage, Trainer (whose name we have changed to protect his privacy) began instead to self-medicate with a small joint before bed.

Not only did his sleep improve, but so did his grade point average, which went from 2.4 to 3.9 in his final two years of undergrad. “I attribute some of that improvement to marijuana,” says 26-year-old Trainer, who has since completed his degree and is currently pursuing his M.B.A. “I’m not promoting it, but I definitely believe it helped me focus more on school.”

With Canada planning to legalize marijuana next year, it’s not just provincial governments and police forces grappling with the implications of legal weed. Post-secondary institutions also need to set new policies on whether pot can be consumed—and even sold—on campus. Earlier this year, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, a former professor, expressed concerns about the effects of marijuana on developing minds and said he’d prefer dispensaries and “cannabis lounges” didn’t appear at universities.

According to Geraint Osborne, a sociologist and associate professor at the University of Alberta, Trainer’s responsible use of marijuana reflects the behaviours of most pot-smoking Canadians. “By and large, students use [cannabis] to chill out with friends, listen to music and watch movies,” Osborne says. “They use it as a reward. Once exams are done, they go out and get high—the same way others use alcohol.”

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SOURCE: Ottaway, C. (October 24, 2017). How will Canadian universities handle legal marijuana?. Maclean’s. Retrieved from http://www.macleans.ca/education/marijuana-use-canadian-universities/

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