Pubdate: Wed, 28 Jun 2017
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Janet French
Page: A3


Never did Alberta School Boards Association president Mary Martin
think she'd have a file labelled "marijuana" among her advocacy documents.

As the expected July 2018 date for legal recreational marijuana in
Canada approaches, every school board in the province will have to
revisit policies and procedures, from student codes of conduct to
rules about administering medication, said Kevin Andrea,
superintendent of Whitecourt-based Northern Gateway Public Schools.

"There's not one school board in the province that could say that we
are ready now for this," Andrea said Tuesday.

Boards are closely watching the Alberta government's decisions about
how and where pot can be consumed in public, the legal age for
cannabis use and municipal decisions about where dispensaries can be
located, said Martin, who is also a Calgary Catholic school trustee.

"Clearly, the issue of safety for our kids is paramount to school
boards," she said.

Edmonton Public Schools will have clear rules ready by next summer
governing marijuana use on and off school property, superintendent
Darrel Robertson told a May school board meeting.

"It's not going to be acceptable to be at school under the influence
of marijuana or any other substance," Robertson said.

What the district lacks are presentations and other resources to
prevent students from driving while impaired, or explaining the
potential effects of cannabis on students' health, Robertson said.
Those lessons should be in Alberta's new K-12 curriculum, he said.

Nearly 29 per cent of 15- to 19-year-olds said they'd illegally used
cannabis, according to a Health Canada survey in 2015.

More frequent use by students has been tied to poorer academic
performance and increased absenteeism and is associated with memory
and cognition problems.

Legalization would give teachers more chances to have frank
discussions with students about cannabis use, said Rebecca
Haines-Saah, a University of Calgary community health sciences
professor who researches youth marijuana use.

Fear of legal consequences or suspension stops many youth from talking
to school staff about the risks, she said.

School authorities have told the province's cannabis secretariat
they're concerned about where pot retailers will be located, spokeswoman
Jennifer Mitok wrote in an email Tuesday. The government is mulling
over whether location should be a provincial or municipal decision,
she said.
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