North Van school district to consider allowing cannabis for medicinal purposes

Only ‘very unique’ cases would qualify; Smoking and vaping cannabis still banned

High school smoke pits will still be forbidden and smoking and vaping of marijuana will still be banned on North Vancouver school property now that pot is legal.

But use of cannabis for medicinal purposes by both students and teachers while at school will be considered in “very restricted and unique circumstances,” according to the North Vancouver school district.

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That would involve getting permission from the superintendent who would have to consider questions like whether the use of cannabis in school is medically necessary, how to address safe storage of the marijuana product and whether treatment with pot would result in the student or teacher being impaired, Scott Stanley, executive director of human resources, told trustees at their last board meeting, held the evening before recreational use of marijuana became legal in Canada.

Stanley added use of medicinal pot in schools would be limited to non-smoked forms, like oils or tinctures.

Smoking of either tobacco or cannabis is still forbidden on school property even when school is not in session. The ban includes sports fields, parking lots, courtyards and private vehicles parked on school property as well as “areas abutting school property,” according to the school district.

It doesn’t include neighbouring homes.

Trustee Susan Skinner asked staff if new educational resources will be developed for students in the wake of legalization, particularly those which address the potential impact of marijuana use on teen brains. “Most of the scientific evidence says you shouldn’t imbibe before the age of 24,” said Skinner, adding there is a risk of “significant brain damage” in some young people.

She also voiced concern that “the words medication and medicate” have been used very loosely by existing cannabis dispensaries.

Skinner said despite marijuana now being legal, it’s important for the school district not to look like it is condoning use among students.

Schools Supt. Mark Pearmain said the issue of marijuana education is very new with the province putting out almost daily updates and many groups offering to provide education. Pearmain said school district staff will soon begin to evaluate materials and decide what’s appropriate for students.

In a note sent home to parents, Pearmain stressed that cannabis remains illegal for anyone under 19.

Vancouver Coastal Health is hosting a free public event in partnership with the school district on the legalization of cannabis that takes place Nov. 14 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Education Services Centre, 2121 Lonsdale Ave.

Parents and youth public are invited to hear a presentation by Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer for the North Shore, and share their thoughts about the legalization of marijuana.

West Vancouver Community Centres Society is also hosting a forum with an expert panel on Nov. 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the West Vancouver Community Centre, 2121 Marine Dr.

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