Getting high on the hill
Canadian municipalities aren't the only ones trying to figure out how they're going to respond when marijuana becomes legal across Canada next summer.
A recent Maclean's story shows universities across the country are also struggling with how to adapt. UNBC is no different. "Senior administration is giving this issue thought and some of our operational units are discussing it as well," UNBC provost and vice-president, academic, Dan Ryan said in a written statement.
"UNBC is developing a response but we will have to consult with various people/units around the university, including the Board of Governors, and make sure the response is framed appropriately and that we're going in the right direction."
That's about as cautious, politically correct and noncommittal a response as you can get.
It's too bad because UNBC, like the City of Prince George, could stand to gain by boldly embracing the legalization of marijuana, making the city and region a hub for the production of safe, quality pot in secure industrial facilities, employing potentially thousands of people.
UNBC could devote research dollars and space on marijuana research, not only medically but also socially and culturally.
The Northern Medical Program could carve out a real niche for important health research on marijuana use, whether as formal medication or self-medication.
Canada's Green University indeed.
Yet that's not the only issue around pot that UNBC has to think about.
In its annual surveys of Canadian universities, Maclean's also looked at student marijuana use.
Nationally, 63 per cent of respondents said they never used, 21 per cent said they were infrequent indulgers (less than once a month or once a year) and just five per cent reported frequent partaking (daily or a few times per week).
Maclean's found UNBC students are mostly typical pot users, virtually identical to the national numbers for those who never use, infrequent dabblers and daily 4:20s.
UNBC, however, was double the national average of a few times per week use (six per cent) and monthly use (eight per cent). Curiously, just one per cent of UNBC students reported less than once a month use, compared to 10 per cent seen nationally.
Basically, UNBC students have a black or white relationship with pot, with 85 per cent of students either never or rarely using, while the other 15 per cent partaking at least once a month or more.
That's hardly enough reefer madness to worry about but it will be interesting to see whether use spikes among post-secondary students once legalization happens and if the social stigmas around pot use fall away.
It would also be interesting to see further research into how students use pot. As the Maclean's article points out anecdotally, marijuana use on Canadian campuses seems to mirror that of the general adult population, where people either use in social settings, similarly to alcohol, or partake to reduce stress or as a non-prescription sleep aid.
Whatever happens after next summer, the data suggests UNBC students will largely fall in line with their counterparts on other Canadian campuses when it comes to marijuana.