Quebec City CEGEPs rush to ready themselves for legal pot

Cannabis, identity politics on agenda as Quebec's fall session gets underway

Quebec City's post-secondary schools are scrambling to ready themselves for the 2018 back-to-school period, when marijuana becomes legal in Canada.

"It's five minutes to midnight," said André Roy, communications director for CEGEP Lévis-Lauzon. 

The Trudeau government released the details of its bill last April. Now, Roy's junior college is drafting an action plan for dealing with it.

He said the college is not ruling out the possibility of banning marijuana on campus.

"We can not forget our mission," he said. "We are in an educational environment. A house of education. We work very hard every day to have the best possible conditions for student success."

Marijuana and young minds

At CEGEP Garneau, where a ban on the use of both tobacco and e-cigarettes started this session, a committee involving students, teachers and other staff will start work on a marijuana policy and roll-out plan this week.

Among other things, communications director Sylvie Fortin said they will consider whether the college needs to hire more psychosocial support staff.

In recent years, the CEGEP has been dealing with a spike in the number of students making use of such services. Fortin said 500 people are seeking help for various concerns out of a student body of 6,000.

In May, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an editorial that says recreational marijuana use could have unknown consequences for young people's still-maturing brains.

The committee will also consider tools for informing students about marijuana use, which could involve a new website, Roy said.

Another CEGEP, Sainte-Foy, says formulating a plan for the legal change is a priority.

Laval University, for its part, will participate in a Quebec government consultation on the topic Thursday.

Roy, from Lévis-Lauzon, said he hopes the provincial government will move quickly to transmit information on the way forward when its public consultations end on Sept. 12. 

The provincial government will have the task of defining who can sell and distribute cannabis in Quebec.