Red Deer College waiting for feds to finalize marijuana legalization

Like businesses, Alberta and municipal governments, Red Deer College is waiting for the new legalized recreational marijuana legislation to become law so it can figure out its next steps.

Recreational marijuana will likely be legalized in Canada later this summer, after a deal struck between the federal government and the senate put the vote off to June 7, delaying implementation beyond the original target of July.

Trent Rix, Red Deer College ancillary services director, said the issue has been on their radar since last spring.

“There are challenges in a post-secondary environment,” he said. “From a staff safety perspective and a student safety perspective. It’s just like any other impairment.

“In an environment like ours, we have children on our campus and our core credit population has 17 and 18 year olds.”

Rix said the changes they need to make for the college are still dependent on what the three levels of government decides. Leaving them in a hurry up and wait situation.

“From an internal perspective, it’s where does smoking on campus occur, if it does,” said Rix, adding the college does have its own policing agreements and standards.

There are community standards in place at campus residences that doesn’t allow smoking in units and sets a nine-metre distance from entrances for smoking. The college will have to consider what the community standards around marijuana usage will be. Different standards may apply to marijuana edibles, but they won’t be legal in Canada until 2019.

But, at this point the college is waiting on the legislation to be finalized and then they will look at and adjust their policies and community standards.

The change doesn’t just affect residences, as it impacts its wellness policy.

“It’s no different than if someone came to work and was impaired by a different means.”

Rix said post-secondary institutions provided feedback during the drafting that was part of the legislation’s creation.

The federal legislation permits adults to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, limits the number of plants in a home to four, sets the minimum age at 18 and establishes new drug-impaired driving legislation.

The provinces are responsible for laws about workplace safety, distribution and retail sales while municipalities are responsible for land use and zoning and public consumption regulations.

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