Cannabis Legalization – School District Preparation
Marijuana legalization took place in Canada through the Cannabis Act on October 17, 2018. Age 19 is the provincial minimum in BC to purchase, sell, or consume cannabis.
In schools, legalization changes very little. Marijuana (cannabis) is still illegal for anyone under 19, and remains a controlled substance, like alcohol. And just like alcohol, we don’t allow cannabis in our schools. Our existing policies and Code of Conduct still apply. They already prohibit intoxication, impairment, as well as the smoking of any substance, vaping, or drinking on school property.
One of the Canadian government’s articulated top priorities is to protect the health and safety of youth. The Cannabis Act creates serious criminal penalties for those who sell or provide cannabis to youth. It also establishes new offences and strict penalties for those who use youth to commit a cannabis offence.
Some Questions & Answers
1. What does the legalization of cannabis mean in Saanich Schools?
Marijuana is still illegal for anyone under 19, and just like other controlled substances such as alcohol, cannabis is not allowed in our schools or school grounds. Our existing policies and Code of Conduct still apply; they already prohibit intoxication, as well as smoking of any substance, vaping, or drinking on school property. When issues arise we deal with it through support and education. We work to figure out what’s happening with the student and address the underlying causes contributing to the behaviour. We will continue to follow that approach. While we are compassionate, safety is critical and we will continue to enforce our policies which create a safe learning environment for everyone.
2. What is the Saanich School District doing to keep people safe?
Legalization is an opportunity for more conversations and education about the effects of cannabis usage. The District has staff who talk to students about prevention, health, addiction, and the impact of substance abuse. Our staff will continue to provide that education. The bottom line is all of our policies prohibiting intoxication or controlled substances in schools still apply, regardless of the legal change.
3. What resources are available for me, as a parent or guardian, to learn more about the effects of cannabis use on health for underage users?
There are various resources in the community you can access including your own healthcare provider. An example of a resource created for parents and guardians comes from Ontario and provides some great information on cannabis use in youth: Cannabis: What Parents/Guardians and Caregivers Need to know. There are also local community agencies that can support you with information about how to have a conversation with your child about cannabis or other substance-related concerns. A great resource here on the peninsula is Beacon Community Services where they offer a number of services and programs for youth and families. The Province of BC also has a website of additional information that can be found HERE.
4. If I still have concerns about this whole topic who else can I talk to?
Please connect with your child’s Principal or school counsellor, either of whom would be pleased to talk with you or help you connect with additional community resources.