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Cannabis legalization and campus policy

How will changes to federal and provincial cannabis laws impact the Queen’s community?

Cannabis plant
Cannabis plant (Photo credit: Roberto Valdivia)

On Oct. 17, 2018, recreational cannabis will become legal in Canada. Queen’s University students, faculty, and staff must be aware of how new federal and provincial laws affect university policies and procedures, as well as the rights and responsibilities of all members of the campus community.

“In early 2018, Queen's established a Cannabis Working Group that tracked the progress of the federal and provincial cannabis legislation, and worked to identify and adapt all university policies that would be impacted by legalized cannabis,” says Dan Langham, Queen’s Director of Environmental Health and Safety and Chair of the Queen’s Cannabis Working Group. “Our collaborative, multi-department working group is now focused on raising awareness on campus of how federal and provincial laws have impacted university policies and procedures, so that all members of our campus community can come to understand their rights and responsibilities, and that a safe and healthy environment is maintained.”

The Legislation

In accordance with the Government of Canada’s Cannabis Act and the Cannabis Control Act of Ontario, all people in Ontario must adhere to the following laws:

  • You must be 19 and older to buy, use, possess and grow recreational cannabis.
  • You may possess a maximum of 30 grams of dried cannabis in public at any time.
  • If passed, Bill 36 permits smoking or vaping cannabis wherever tobacco smoking and vaping is permitted (excluding motor vehicles), except on any Queen’s University property as per university policy.
  • You may not consume cannabis in the workplace as it is illegal and will continue to be after Oct. 17, 2018

The federal government provides information on cannabis health effects, cannabis and international travel and accessing cannabis for medical purposes, as well as resources to help discuss cannabis with various audiences. The Government of Ontario has also outlined its provincial rules and regulations.

Cannabis on campus

The legalization of cannabis has prompted Queen's University to institute an array of policy changes and additions that will apply to every member of the campus community:

  • Consumption of cannabis is subject to a number of restrictions:
    • Smoking or vaping of cannabis is prohibited on the Queen's University campus, unless approved for medical or research use. The university’s Interim Smoking of Cannabis Policy works in tandem with existing Queen’s policies about Smoking on Campus.
    • Use of recreational cannabis in the workplace is illegal and will remain so following Oct. 17, 2018.
    • The purchase or sale of edibles is not legal and will not become legal on Oct. 17, 2018.
  • Growing/cultivation/distribution/sale of cannabis is strictly prohibited on campus or in university facilities, including residences.
  • Cannabis possession on campus faces a number of restrictions:
    • Under-age possession (under 19 years old) of cannabis, cannabis byproducts (including but not limited to oils, edibles, seeds, or plants) is prohibited, as is possession of cannabis accessories (bongs, grinders, pipes, and vaporizers, etc).
    • Those 19 years old and over may possess quantities as outlined by Ontario's government.
    • Possessed cannabis must be secured (not accessible to others), and stowed in a scent-free manner.
    • Possessing cannabis while in operation or as a passenger of a university vehicle is prohibited.
  • Accommodations for medical cannabis will be addressed on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with university policy and federal and provincial laws. See the sections below for accommodations related to students or faculty/staff.
  • Cannabis or Cannabis Accessories used on university property for teaching and/or research purposes where the research meets all regulatory and ethics approval requirements and where all appropriate protections for environmental health and safety are in place and are approved by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety.

For a comprehensive directory of policy changes relating to cannabis, visit our Policies Regarding the Legalization of Cannabis page for students, faculty, and staff. Here you will find cannabis-related resources regarding our residence community standards, health and wellness, human resource guidelines, codes of conduct, and more.

“As the governments of Canada and Ontario continue to develop their recreational cannabis frameworks, Queen’s University may continue to adjust policies pursuant to emerging legislation,” says Langham. “Members of the Queen’s community will be notified should further policies be adjusted or instituted.”

Remember: Until Oct. 17, 2018, cannabis remains illegal and existing laws, rules, and regulations still apply.