Restrictive provincial legislation means post-secondary schools have little to no say in their cannabis policies




Cannabis on college campuses isn’t new, but with legalization on Oct. 17 fast approaching, post-secondary schools are forced to take a hard look at their smoking regulations, HR policies and healthcare coverage. A school’s administration may not have much to think about, though, because depending on the location of a school and how strict the provincial legislation is, the decision could essentially already be made for them.


This is the case with Red River College. Manitoba is home to some of the strictest cannabis laws in the country. The province has been praised for its “hands-off” approach to retail, allowing four companies to operate both online and as brick and mortar stores, but the fairy tale ends there.


Under Manitoba cannabis law, you:

  • can’t smoke or vape cannabis in any public space.
  • must be 19 to purchase or consume cannabis.
  • can’t grow cannabis at home.
  • can carry up to 30 grams of cannabis in public.


The college’s approach to cannabis legalization falls in tandem with the legislation put forward by the provincial government, said Conor Lloyd, the college’s public relations director, in an email.


“While I can’t get into specifics regarding our new policy, as it is currently being finalized, I can tell you that the consumption of recreational cannabis will not be permitted at the College, which is consistent with the direction laid out in the province’s Non-Smokers Health Protection and Vapour Products Act,” said Lloyd.


If you happen to break one of the laws, like public consumption, you can be fined anywhere from $100 to $1,000, depending on whether it’s a first, second or third offence. There was no mention of the college’s stance on edible or drinkable cannabis in Lloyd’s email.


Edibles became a hot topic merely hours after the Manitoba-specific rules were released — advocates quickly voiced their concerns around the lack of clarity around their legality. The public’s issues with legislation don’t end there.


There have been ongoing problems with the province’s proposed cannabis DUI laws and the tools and strategies used when assessing impairment. Bill C-46, which received Royal Assent in June, will charge people who drive with a certain amount of THC (the main psychoactive compound in cannabis) in their blood. Unlike alcohol, THC is a complex element that can remain stored in fat cells for a long time, meaning that someone with high levels of THC isn’t necessarily impaired.


As restrictive as the college’s polices will (probably) end up being, their hands are tied. I believe there should have been more public consultation and consideration in the preliminary stages of legalization. Although I am pro-legalization, I agree there were huge issues with a handful of laws that were swept under the rug and pushed through the House.


A more thoughtful approach to legalization would have recognized the potential for cannabis to have a major effect on binge drinking, especially on post-secondary campuses.


Only time will tell how this will all play out, but if there’s already major issues before legalization takes off, I’m incredibly interested to see how the legislation will be enforced.


Claire Renic is a PR student at Red River College. You can follow her cannabis-focused podcast, Trailblazers, on Instagram @trailblazerspod.