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article imageCountdown to legal pot in Canada still raises questions

By Karen Graham     Sep 29, 2018 in World
October 17 is fast approaching for the legalization of recreational pot in Canada. And it is no surprise that many institutions have failed to address how marijuana use in schools and in the workplace should be handled.
In Rexdale, a district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, a young man was sent home on the first day of high school in September with a three-day suspension after a vice-principal at Monsignor Percy Johnson Catholic Secondary School accused the student of "smelling of pot," reports the Toronto Star.
As it turns out - while standing in line outside the main office waiting to pick up schedules - there was the smell of marijuana in the air - but the school official accused the wrong person.
But what makes this event so worrisome is that the letter sent home with the student stated disciplinary action was taken because he was “under the influence of illegal drugs.”
The point is this - smelling marijuana "in the air," or even on a person's clothing is the same as walking into a room where someone has smoked tobacco, and cigarette smoke gets on clothing and anything else it comes in contact with, as does marijuana smoke.
But if someone is accused of being "under the influence" of marijuana or any other illegal drug, it better be backed up with some evidence. And in the young man's case, this certainly was not done, and thankfully, the bad mark in his high school record was erased.
File photo: The BC Marijuana Party Bookstore and Lounge (Marc Emery Headquarters) in Vancouver  BC.
File photo: The BC Marijuana Party Bookstore and Lounge (Marc Emery Headquarters) in Vancouver, BC.
User: (WT-shared) Osiris at wts wikivoyage
Quebec and the legalization of pot?
First, the province of Quebec law states there has to be a 250-meter (820-feet) buffer from schools required by Bill 157. Bill 157 also stipulates that marijuana use will only be permitted in the same places as tobacco. Smoking will also be prohibited on university and CEGEP grounds.
In Quebec, this very thing came up - after it was revealed a cannabis store would be opened up within a half-kilometer of a college attended by 17- and 18-year-olds.
This raised the ire of the minister of education, Sébastien Proulx, who said, "This location [...] in my opinion, it's too close to our schools. [...] It's not a good place. [...] Does the SQDC have to be located in a high-traffic area with cars, tourists and citizens? In my opinion, no."
But as the Huffington Post pointed out, what Proulx and the media failed to mention, however, was the number of businesses right in the area near the school in question, selling alcoholic beverages. Go figure?
University of Ottawa
University of Ottawa
Schools preparing for pot legalization
In Ontario's Waterloo Region, local public and Catholic school boards are opting to use the same rules already in place for alcohol. This means students can’t use marijuana on school property or show up to class under the influence.
Some people feel that if anything, schools are going to have a hard time policing the student body for offenders. “It’s certainly going to make our roles more challenging,” said Judy Merkel, superintendent of safe schools for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.
While just about all high school students are under the age of 19, there is still the concern that the legalization of pot will make it easier for underage youth to get their hands on marijuana.
Interestingly, several parents have voiced concerns about so-called smoke-pits - off-site smoking zones for students who want to smoke a cigarette. Some schools are planning to increase patrolling of the sites.
Vancouver Police Department sets new rules on officer s use of marijuana.
Vancouver Police Department sets new rules on officer's use of marijuana.
Canadian Photographer / Jay Siggers (CC BY-SA 2.0)
And in related news, (and this writer finds this tidbit sort of strange), the Vancouver Police Board approved on Wednesday a set of regulations for officers’ use of cannabis.
The board rejected a recommendation suggested in August for abstaining from marijuana use for 24-hours before a shift. Instead, the standard simply says officers must arrive to work “fit for duty.”
“Specifying a time frame can create an implicit approval that this period of abstinence is all that’s required to ensure fitness for duty,” the report says. “This can lead to unnecessary labor conflicts where employees are fit for duty but have consumed cannabis within this time frame, or where employees are not fit for duty but mistakenly believe they are as they consumed outside this time frame.”
More about cannabis legalization, Schools, under the influence, Police departments, more questions
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