TRU finalizes policy on cannabis ban

The university plans to take a health and wellness approach

TRU’s Board of Governors have finalized a policy which is set to ban the use of marijuana on campus outside of medicinal purposes.

The Alcohol, Cannabis and Tobacco Policy was completed after the board felt the need to revise the university’s current policies for a variety of reasons.

Such factors include the amendment of B.C.’s liquor licensing law in 2015, the preexisting plans to review TRU’s current alcohol policy as well as the upcoming legalization of cannabis in Canada.

According to the board meeting’s agenda, the goal of the policy is to “combine alcohol, cannabis and tobacco into one policy, align alcohol policy with current practice, prohibit against non-medicinal cannabis use and to make tobacco more integrated with other substance use.”

“With the pending legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada taking place on Oct. 17, the university felt the need to look at what we should and should not be doing with regards to the use of cannabis in a place of employment and a place of study”, said Christine Bovis-Cnossen, TRU’s provost and interim president.

She said that the revision of the policy took over a year and a half of work and mentioned the board also looked at “best practices” enforced within Canada among other institutions.

Bovis-Cnossen also added that after much consideration, TRU decided to approach the matter from a health and wellness perspective.

“I believe there has been quite a bit of literature that has come out from Dr. Christopher Montoya who looks at the effects of cannabis on youth brains and the development of the brain,” she explained.

Elaborating, she asserted that the university “took heed” to the recommendation of the health and safety committee who unanimously voted for TRU to ban recreational cannabis use.

“We’re working towards making this a wellness campus and so I think (the ban) is a collaboration more than a victory,” said Chris Montoya, co-chair of TRU’s health and safety board.

Montoya added the decision to ban recreational cannabis use was based on peer-reviewed international journals which explored the cumulative effects of marijuana use.

“I think if we’re going to have a wellness campus here and the best possible outcome for our students, who are pursuing excellence in their education, we have to be very cautious about what we do,” he said.

Montoya referenced studies from The New England Journal of Medicine which revealed marijuana use can result in “diminished lifetime achievement.”

“Marijuana has almost caught cocaine in emergency room visits mainly because the stuff that Cheech and Chong smoked in the 1960s was about 1.5 per cent THC by weight.”

He explained the percentage of THC found in cannabis today is up to 30 per cent, which reveals a twenty-fold increase in potency.

“Marijuana spice— these are synthetic cannabinoids— they can be up to thirty times stronger and about six-hundred-fold increase and this is why we’re seeing the psychotic breaks in students,” he said.

Montoya emphasized the ban only stands for recreational cannabis use and acknowledged the benefits of medicinal marijuana to prescribed patients.

“If you are pursuing excellence in your studies, this is not a drug for you. Marijuana has been associated with and correlated with poor memory retention,” he said.

Addressing the possible punishments for students breaching the policy, Bovis-Cnossen said they plan to make sure students understand that recreational marijuana is not permitted on campus.

“If there continues to be further instances, there is a progressive discipline within the institution which would happen to anybody who violates continuously the policies of the university,” Bovis-Cnossen added.

The revised policy will be posted and enforced right before the Canadian Cannabis Act comes into effect on Oct. 17.