Mount Allison University saw its second Cannabis Convention last Thursday. While the three guest speakers urged attendees to be outspoken in their advocacy, the event itself did not cause much of a stir on campus.
Hempology 101, a student group at Mt. A, hosted the event in a largely empty Wu Centre. Excluding the four-member executive, only four guests showed up for the event. Last year’s convention had about forty attendees.
Despite some disappointment with turnout, guests, organizers, and speakers alike were enthusiastic about the convention.
“I thought it was awesome,” said Hilary Cantin, one of the Hempology executives. Co-founder Rene Schuller agreed, adding that he felt the speakers brought “a wealth of knowledge” to the event.
“The attendance wasn’t quite where we wanted it to be, but that’s sort of expected for the time of year,” Schuller said.
The convention featured three speakers: Amherst-based Marcel Gignac, Communications Director for the Medicinal Cannabis Patients’ Alliance of Canada, and Chris Enns and Jes James, a couple of Halifax-based activists and co-founders of the Halifax Compassionate Club. The club dispenses marijuana to chronically ill patients and provides free information on marijuana consumption.
Enns opened the event, sharing how he became involved with the medical marijuana movement—he abandoned his medical school plans after discovering a wealthy scientific research on the health benefits of cannabis, and eventually began producing marijuana for patients in need. He urged students to bring these issues into the university community.
James’ talk addressed some of the substantial legal difficulties the Compassionate Club has faced over the years. They were raided last March, and Enns was arrested for possession and cultivation of marijuana.
Gignac spoke on the present legal situation of medicinal cannabis, and the obstacles for the movement. Gignac consumes roughly thirty grams of marijuana a day to treat his multiple sclerosis. “I’d be dead now if I didn’t break the law,” Gignac told guests.
All three urged attendees to be public about the subject. They noted that this could be difficult, as there is still a lot of stigma around the medical marijuana movement.
This is an issue the Hempology club has dealt with themselves over the course of their activity on campus. Schuller mentioned that it has sometimes been difficult to get students to publicly commit to the cause. For this reason, Hempology Mt. A operates a private Facebook page to accommodate members with privacy concerns.
“People have weird feelings about marijuana. We want to exist comfortably in people’s lives,” Cantin explained. “I personally don’t care. I’m one of those people that wants to come out of the marijuana closet.”
While the speakers mostly addressed medicinal cannabis use, Schuller conceded that recreational use is probably of more interest to students. “I […] think that could be a good thing because it means we can come at the issue from a different angle,” he said.
In an interview with The Argosy Gignac said he enjoyed the event, adding that he felt Hempology Mt. A is one of the only campus advocacy groups that is “doing it right.”