Director of education Phyllis Eikre is offering assurances, on behalf of the Kenora Catholic District School Board.

"Right now, legislation prohibits the use of tobacco and alcohol on school property. It will be the same for cannabis," she said.

Eikre adds you must be at least 19, in order to buy cannabis in Ontario. The board offered an information session earlier this week for parents and students at St. Thomas Aquinas.

"Whether they're legal or illegal drugs, they all carry risks and it's important people know what those risks are," Eikre emphasized.

According to the Smoke Free Ontario Act, students, staff and the public are not allowed to smoke tobacco on school grounds. This will be the same for marijuana consumption for school grounds, even though marijuana can be consumed publicly. 

The OPP says that their stats show that in 2013, 10 per cent of Grade 10 – 12 students reported driving in the hour after smoking marijuana. For motor vehicle collisions that involved an impaired driver, 35 per cent of impaired drivers consumed alcohol, and 41 per cent involved marijuana. Statistics also show that between the ages of 16 – 18, 23 per cent of youth say that they drove after consuming marijuana.  

The Northwestern Health Unit’s statistics show that 14 per cent of adults consumed cannabis in the past year. For students in Grades 9 – 12, 23 per cent say that they have consumed cannabis in the past year. In fatal collisions involved a youth, 25 per cent of collisions involved a marijuana-impaired driver. They also note that statistics show that all drivers are 50 per cent more likely to crash if impaired by marijuana. 

The laws against drug-impaired driving will include zero tolerance for: young drivers aged 21 and under, novice drivers – G1, G2, M1 and M2 licence holders and all commercial drivers. Cannabis use reduces overall driving performance with negative impacts on reaction time, motor coordination, divided attention, short-term memory, decision-making and perception.

The health unit noted that in youth, marijuana use can lead to developmental issues and a risk of mental illness, as well as a number of other physical and mental health complications. Nationally, The federal government has provided $36 million over 5 years to develop a communication campaign about the risks of marijuana use.

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