No, this isn’t about Spider-Man’s love interest. On Oct. 17, 2018, marijuana was legalized for recreational use on a national level. According to Statistics Canada, “about 4.6 million or 15 percent of Canadians aged 15 and older reported using cannabis.”
According to MacEwan University Guidelines, which were posted to the university’s website on Oct. 15, 2018, cannabis products are allowed in two of the university’s designated smoking areas: the southeast corner of the campus around Building 5, and the northwest corner of campus outside the north doors of Allard Hall.
A few people on campus during class break took time to answer questions about their experience on campus, and how it had been impacted by legalization. Meaghan Babichuk, a current Open Studies student who plans on pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree thinks that legalization is both a good and a bad thing. “I think that the legalization of (marijuana) is both a positive and a negative. With it being legalized, it can help some people who have chronic pain.” She says she also thinks that marijuana should be more-so for medical use, however. Babichuk says that marijuana use on campus hasn’t overly impacted her experience.
Shelby Hays, a third-year sociology and Psychology double major student has a bit more of an upbeat look on marijuana legalization. “I’m quite happy about it,” Hays says. “Not only is it something people have used recreationally for a very long time, but it’s something that I also have friends and family that use it for medicinal purposes,” Hays says she’s glad her family members no longer have to deal with the possible stigma of being associated with marijuana in public. As for how Hays feels about marijuana on campus, she had this to say: “Oddly, it hasn’t impacted my experience at MacEwan, and I find that to be a good thing. There’s been very rare times where I’ve smelled it outside of the proper cannabis smoking areas.” She also confided that she’s seen less sketchy looking transactions on nearby streets and alleys. She attributes both of these things to marijuana legalization working as it should.
Jason Bodnar, a sessional Communications instructor says that although he doesn’t use marijuana and never has, he understands that this is probably the inevitable evolution of the law: “In many ways, people see it as Canada catching up to the rest of the world.” Bodnar feels that marijuana has not affected his on-campus experience in any way, but did say he has some concerns for people walking by the permitted smoking areas. “I think that secondhand smoke is bad for people’s lungs, regardless of whatever is being smoked. My bigger concern would be… secondhand smoke being breathed in by people who are not smokers.” Bodnar, who is also a barrister and solicitor, had some additional concerns about the legal side of things. “My biggest concern with the legalization of marijuana are the question marks that arise out of enforcing impairment,” he says, specifically in regards to activities like driving.
Raymond Boudreau, Executive Director of Security Services for MacEwan, who oversees the physical security aspects of campus life also had a few moments to answer some questions. Boudreau says he is no stranger to marijuana, as it was the drug of choice for others when he was going to school, but he personally has not used it. He has also dealt with drug use from the law-enforcement side of things, having served with the RCMP for 25 years. Despite his experience with the substance, Boudreau says that his drug of choice is caffeine and alcohol. In regards to marijuana use, Boudreau says, “from a personal point of view, I don’t have a position one way or another,” but he did say he has some concerns about the impact on developing brains up to the age of 25. “We know through science that the frontal lobe isn’t developed until you’re about 25 years old… what effect it does have is really questionable at times.”
While Boudreau says there were complaints about marijuana use in designated smoking areas prior to legalization, he says that on average, the complaints that Security Services receive are currently less than one per month. The security team tends to deal with those who consume marijuana products just like alcohol users, and redirects them to the appropriate areas while using the products. “It’s your choice to use the product, but you go here. It’s no different than if you wish to use alcohol. The place to go (for alcohol consumption) is Tower’s Pub.” Boudreau says it’s not that they are trying to push away the marijuana users, but rather give them a designated area in which they can consume cannabis products if they wish.
MacEwan’s official stance is one of non-judgment. According to Michelle Plouffe, who was the Vice President and General Counsel at MacEwan at the time the policy was drafted: “Our priority is to ensure a safe and healthy working and learning environment in which our students and staff can succeed. . . This has always been our stance and it isn’t affected by the legalization of cannabis.”
MacEwan’s official policies on cannabis on campus can be found here: macewan.ca/wcm/MacEwanNews/NEWS_CANNABISONCAMPUS