On Oct. 17, 2018 recreational cannabis will become legal in Canada and will be available for purchase, possession, and consumption in the province of New Brunswick.

There have been a number of changes to Mount Allison University’s policies to reflect this change in legislation while ensuring the safety of all of our students. This information can be reviewed at www.mta.ca/codeofconduct/cannabis/  

National survey results

In 2018, the National College Health Assessment II was conducted at Mount Allison University to better understand student wellness including substance use and behaviors.

The survey found that about:

  • 48 per cent of Mount Allison students are not consuming cannabis at all
  • 27 per cent of students have used at some point in a 30-day period
  • 3 to 5 per cent are using regularly

While the number of regular cannabis users on campus is low, students are currently using the substance so it is important to ensure they are provided with accurate information to reduce harms associated with cannabis consumption.

The conversation around cannbis  

Since September 2018, information has been shared with students on ways to reduce harms related to recreational cannabis consumption should they choose to consume, as well as potential health risks. It should be noted these conversations pertain to recreational cannabis consumption and not medicinal marijuana prescribed by a medical professional.

While the information shared at Mount Allison University will be helpful to educate your student on the potential risks associated with this substance and how to decrease harms, the conversation between you and your student will play a key role in their understanding and outlook on substance use and cannabis in particular.

If you haven’t already started, we encourage you to take time to begin an ongoing open conversation with your student about cannabis consumption.

We understand there is a lot of misinformation about this substance and have included some links on our website to aid in your understanding at www.mta.ca/studentwellness/cannabis 

Potential health risks

According to the Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, some of the potential health risks associated with this substance include:

  • Problems with thinking, memory, or physical co-ordination
  • Impaired perceptions or hallucinations
  • Fatal and non-fatal injuries, including those from motor-vehicle accidents, due to impairment
  • Mental health problems and cannabis dependence
  • Chronic respiratory or lung problems
  • Reproductive problems

Reducing harms

Some of the ways to reduce harms associated with this substance include:

  • Avoid mixing cannabis with alcohol or other substances
  • Choose products with lower THC content (main chemical in marijuana that causes the ‘high’)
  • Avoid smoking burnt cannabis, choose safer methods
  • Avoid using cannabis if experiencing poor mental health or have a personal/family history of mental illness, especially, schizophrenia
  • Plan for a sober driver — driving while impaired from cannabis or using cannabis in a motor vehicle is illegal
  • Postpone use until later years (25 years and older)
  • Not too much, not too often

For additional information, please contact Jessica Griffin, mental health and harm reduction educator at jgriffin@mta.ca