Cannabis at York University: What You Need to Know

On October 17, 2018 recreational cannabis became legal in Canada.

In Ontario, individuals must be 19 years of age and older to buy, use, possess and grow recreational cannabis. This is the same as the minimum age for the sale of tobacco and alcohol in Ontario.

York University is committed to the success of its students, faculty and staff, and will continue to assess the evolving situation and adjust its policies to reflect legislative changes. The University uses and complies with the provincial smoking legislation and regulations and will continue to do so.

York University is focused on maintaining a safe, secure and healthy environment that puts people first, is supportive of the whole person, and enhances the development of physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

About Cannabis and What You Should Know

Potential Effects of Cannabis Use:

  • Physical Effects
    • Red eyes
    • Dry mouth and throat
    • Irritated respiratory system
    • Increased appetite and heart rate
    • Decreased blood pressure, balance and stability
    • Possible drowsiness or restlessness
  • Cognitive Effects
    • Impairs depth perception, attention span and concentration
    • Slows reaction time
    • Affects thinking and problem solving
    • Interferes with learning and work performance
    • Impacts short-term memory
    • Affects mood and feelings potentially resulting in anxiety and/or panic
  • Potential Long-Term Health Effects
    • Risk to lung health - bronchitis, lung infections, chronic cough, increase mucus in chest, emphysema
    • Heart palpitations and increased risk of heart attack
    • Lung, upper respiratory or upper digestive tract cancer
    • Physical dependence and/or addiction
    • Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, psychosis and schizophrenia
    • Harm to memory, concentration, intelligence (IQ), and ability to think and make decisions



Now that cannabis is legal in Ontario (and Canada) for persons 19 years or older, I have a legal right to use and possess cannabis anywhere I want, including on campus?

Although the new law permits the use and possession of recreational cannabis for persons aged 19 years or older, it does not affect York University’s ability to set policies for student conduct.  As a higher education institution, York University has the right to define what conduct is permissible and expected within its community and on its campus.

Does York University’s position on smoking cannabis apply to faculty, staff, guests, and visitors to campus for special events?

Yes. York University  prohibits faculty, staff, guests, and visitors from being under the influence of controlled substances including cannabis, while on campus or during university activities.

How far from a building do I need to be to smoke cannabis?

Smoking is permitted 9 metres (or 30 feet) away from an exit or entrance of a building. However, for daycare facilities smoking is only permitted 20 metres (or 66 feet) away from an exit or extrance.

Does the University policy extend to edible cannabis products?

The sale of Edibles is currently not legal.

Why is there an exception for the Indigenous community?

Tobacco, and other substances, are an integral part of cultural ceremonies, cultural research and requests for guidance, knowledge or knowledge sharing; therefore, tobacco may be burned on campus in accordance with our existing policy on Smudging/Pipe Ceremonies.

What if cannabis is part of my educational research?

Cannabis may be used or grown for teaching and research purposes where the research meets all regulatory requirements and approvals, and where appropriate protections for health and safety are in place.

How will smoking of cannabis be enforced?

All students, faculty, staff are expected to comply with University’s policy. We will focus on awareness, education, respect, harm reduction, peer-to- peer encouragement and support. Our focus will be on voluntary compliance through education and signage. We believe that’s the kind of campus and approach that will work best for everyone.

What enforcement options are available to the University?

These are the same as with any policy. We would follow appropriate corrective administrative or non-academic discipline. Our focus will be on voluntary compliance through education, signage, and awareness.  Members of the York community, such as Security Services will also help to enforce the policy. It is possible that municipal enforcement officers can visit the campus and they can fine individuals who are not complying with the Cannabis Act and/or Smoke Free Ontario Act.

How do you think students in residence will be affected by the legalization of cannabis?

York University does not allow smoking or vaping of any substance in our residences and that won’t change. We expect residents to act responsibly, respect those living in their residences and follow policy.

Can I have cannabis in residence?

Possession of dried cannabis (up to 30 grams) will be permitted in private bedrooms by students 19 years of age or older provided it is stored in a sealed container.

Why can’t we grow cannabis plants in our residences?

Growing cannabis plants is not allowed in our residences. While growing four cannabis plants for personal use is legal we have rules that stipulate that cannabis plants cannot be grown in residence or anywhere on campus. We have the responsibility to determine what’s allowed on our property, including in our residence buildings. The growing of cannabis requires added utilities (electricity, water) and may present elevated risks for indoor mold growth and other types of property damage. This will be written into residence community standards along with other expectations.

Can I carry cannabis on campus?

When not in use, cannabis products (including dried cannabis, as well as edibles (once legal) must be stored in sealed containers.

How will the use of edible or recreational cannabis in residence be enforced?

As is our current practice, the University will work with Campus security and the police if any illegal activity takes place on campus.

I am a licensed medical cannabis user. Will I be able to use my medical cannabis on campus?

Medical cannabis is subject to different rules than recreational cannabis. The production and sale of medical cannabis is regulated exclusively by the Federal government.

The only way to purchase medical cannabis is from:

  • a federally licensed producer online
  • by written order
  • over the phone and delivered by secure mail