Should weed be legal for athletes too?

Athletes using cannabis is no longer taboo

Should weed be legal for athletes too?

There’s a societal stigma that surrounds marijuana usage, one that doesn’t stop beyond the locker rooms of various professional sports teams.

A considerable number of professional athletes have or currently use marijuana to assist with their athletic craft and alleviate pain after strenuous exercises and competitions. In the past, when professional athletes dabbled with the drug, the associated stigma and the punishments enforced against them resulted in ruined careers.

Even after October 17, professional athletes playing in Canada will still be unable to use the drug, as the global anti-doping community and various collective bargaining agreements have maintained cannabis on the prohibited list.

Many professional athletes have shared that they’ve used marijuana during their careers, citing pain management, anxiety, and insomnia.

According to The Huffington Post, “former NBA players Jay Williams and Cliff Robinson have been outspoken advocates for cannabis in the NBA with Williams estimating that 80% of NBA players are already self-medicating with the plant.”

However, the medical uses of cannabis are different from its recreational use, and it should not be considered in the same vein as taking other performance-enhancing drugs.

Playing fair must remain central to sports. Marijuana can have different effects on different people; some feel more relaxed, while others may feel more anxious, afraid, or panicked.

When it comes to marijuana usage for professional athletes, there might not be a potential fair use of weed beyond the medical purpose. While societal perspectives surrounding weed have shifted, when it comes to sports, there are some traditions of rules that still need to be enforced.

How I managed to play flag football while high

Defense isn’t so easy when you’re stoned

How I managed to play flag football while high

Weed is more than just a drug. It can be a gateway to achieving levels of happiness and serenity — at least for me, anyway. I’ve been an avid smoker since my first year at U of T. Three years have passed and now I am sober — for the most part. Ironically, weed is going to be legalized on October 17 but I probably couldn’t care less.

There are two main types of weed: indica and sativa. Indica strains are more relaxing, while sativas provide a more uplifting and energizing experience. I’ve used sativa with friends because it’s way more exciting. Indica has helped me sleep, to say the least, but it has had some other interesting effects on me.

Two years ago, I was, unfortunately, high during one of the most important moments of my life.

Back in second year, I was on the UTSC men’s intramural flag football team for the 2016–2017 season. Our team was on a hot streak. We made it to the final round, playing against UTM.

I remember smoking a joint right before getting on the team bus. Normally, a joint wouldn’t hit me that hard. As we warmed up, I remember feeling slightly lightheaded as I was running routes. I thought I was fine, but then the game began, and things took a different turn.

Our coach had me starting on defense to begin the game. I will always remember the first play of the game. UTM had a passing play. I remember looking at the player I was defending, struggling to follow him around on man-coverage. I felt a lot slower.

My reflexes were down and my judgments impaired because of the indica strain I had smoked. I think I have pretty good endurance and stamina, yet I felt more tired than usual during the game.

When we had the ball, it was also terrible for me. I remember at one point, I was just losing focus on everything going on around me. I couldn’t stay alert. Paying attention was nearly impossible.

One of my teammates, Dave, always shouted, “Look alive guys,” to keep us in check. I really needed to hear that, because I started feeling sleepy.

One of my most memorable moments in the game was when we were in the huddle. Our quarterback was going over the play that we were going to run.

I remembered exactly what route I was assigned. Then, as we left the huddle and lined up on the line of scrimmage, I forgot the route. I remember one of my older teammates yelling at me to get on the other side of the field.

The game eventually ended and we beat UTM. Playing in an important game while high was definitely an interesting experience, and on the bus ride home, I simply passed out.

I probably wouldn’t do it again.

Blues men’s hockey lose to Ryerson Rams in home opener

Ryerson defeats Toronto 6–2

Blues men’s hockey lose to Ryerson Rams in home opener

The Varsity Blues men’s hockey team dropped their home opener 6–2 against the Ryerson Rams on Friday night.

The Blues opened the game with first-year forward Nathan Hudgin scoring on a pass from David Thomson, beating Rams goalie Garrett Forrest to provide the Blues with a 1–0 lead.

Despite the Blues’ early goal, the Rams looked to be more aggressive on offense, leading 12–6 shots on goal after the first period.

Ryerson started the second period with a strong push, tying the game at 1–1 less than a minute into the period. With no time wasted, Ryerson found themselves back in the game with a goal scored by forward Devon Paliani.

The Rams then capitalized on a power play, extending their lead 2–1 with a goal by Matt Mistele.

The Blues’ defense struggled as Ryerson’s Steven Harland and Devon Paliani found the back of the net, making it a 4–1 game, and Paliani’s second of the game. The second period belonged to the Rams as they scored an impressive four goals while shutting out the Blues’ offense. At the end of the period, the Rams offense dominated with a staggering 32–18 shots on goal.

The Rams never looked back, as they scored again to begin the final period. U of T managed to score with a goal by Josh Hanson, cutting the lead 5–2 and bringing hopes of a comeback. Ryerson then added on another goal, dashing any chances of a comeback.

Blues goalie Alex Bishop struggled on the night, allowing six goals. Forrest saved 30 shots of 32 attempts, helping Ryerson cruise to an easy 6–2 win.

“It wasn’t one of our better performances. We’ll just leave it at that,” said Blues defender Josh Hanson. “We expect a lot better of ourselves.”

When asked about the momentum lost in the second period, Hanson replied, “I think it’s as simple as we just weren’t ready to play in the second period.”

However, considering future games, Hanson said, “Games in back-to-back nights like this, you can’t dwell on the negative. We’re not going to sit here all night and think about how differently this game could have gone.”

“We’re definitely going to strive to wipe this one clean of our memories,” he concluded. “We’re going to go forward and play some better hockey.”

Blues women earn comeback victory over Windsor

Five different players scored for Toronto

Blues women earn comeback victory over Windsor

Supporters turned out to watch the Blues women’s hockey team kick off their regular season in fantastic fashion on Saturday night, as the squad posted a 5–3 comeback victory over the Windsor Lancers. It was a true team effort for the Blues, as five different players scored and 10 recorded points on the evening.

Toronto dug themselves into a hole early, as Windsor fired off two quick goals in the first four minutes. The Blues caught a tough break later on in the period, as Taylor Trussler and Louie Bieman were sent to the box for minor penalties about a minute apart. Amy Maitre was quick to take advantage of Windsor’s five on three advantage, converting on powerplay to put the Lancers up 3–0 with five minutes remaining in the first.

Maitre’s goal proved to be the last for the Lancers, however, and Toronto remained poised, relying on its veteran leadership and the strength of its forecheck to counter Windsor’s chippy, physical play. Stephanie Ayre’s goal from Trussler and Mathilde de Serres with about 30 seconds left in the frame was “really big” for the Blues, said Bieman, proving to energize both players and fans alike as the Blues headed into the first intermission down 3–1.

The latter two periods were all Blues, as Toronto scored four unanswered goals between the two periods to put the game away. The home side upped its intensity on their forecheck and absolutely dominated the second period, with the visiting Lancers struggling to even advance the puck past the centre line out of their own zone. Lauren Straatman scored a powerplay goal on the back of some great puck movement from Cristine Chao and Louie Bieman to cut the lead to just one point with 12 and a half minutes to go in the second, while Kassie Roache tipped in a beauty feed from Jana Headrick just three minutes later to tie it up at three apiece.

The Blues came storming out of the gates in the third, bringing fans to their feet as de Serres buried the go-ahead goal off an Ayres rebound just a minute into the period. Bieman provided the insurance marker with six minutes left in the game, showing off some nifty stick work to deke out the Windsor tender right in front of the crease and making it 5–3 Blues.

Coach Vicky Sunohara was pleased with her team’s ability to “keep composed,” and she credited the strength of the forecheck as well as the first line of Straatman, Bieman, and Roache, who “clicked well, passed the puck, and created a lot of chances.”

Fifth-year assistant captain Julia Szulewska gushed about her team’s performance under pressure. “You could just see it in our eyes that we wanted it more,” she said. “[The comeback] shows what kind of team we are. We don’t give up, and it was amazing to see.”

Second-year goalie Madeline Albert was solid, stopping 18 of 21 shots for the win.

New buildings in the works at UTM

Plans not finalized for location, full purpose of proposed Robotics Building, Arts & Culture building

New buildings in the works at UTM

UTM plans to build up to three new academic buildings over the next four years, as a part of the implementation of its five-year Academic Plan that it introduced last year.

This year, the campus plans to finalize designs for both a Science Building and a Robotics Building, as well as initiate discussions to possibly construct an Arts & Culture Building. Though construction is slated to start soon, there are very few details about the location or full purpose of the Robotics Building and the Arts & Culture Building.

According to UTM’s Implementation Plan — an evolving document that details the steps that the administration is taking to achieve the Academic Plan — construction of the Science Building is scheduled to begin sometime in the next two years and finish around 2021.

The Science Building will be located between the Davis Building and the Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex. It will consist of roughly 7,134 net assignable square metres spread over four floors, with a mechanical penthouse on the fifth floor.

There are also proposals to include a High Performance Computing Data Centre, as well as laboratories and offices, to satisfy the laboratory needs of research facilities at UTM and to accommodate the activities of UTM’s Centre for Medicinal Chemistry, which was launched in 2016 to develop drugs targeting cancer and other diseases.

The Forensic Science program, which is currently located in the Health Sciences Complex, as well as Campus Shipping & Receiving, which is currently located in the William G. Davis Building, are also slated for relocation to the Science Building.

With a budget exceeding $20 million, construction of the Science Building will be funded by a combination of sources, including UTM Capital Reserves and Long-term Borrowing, along with donations and funding. There will also be possible fund-matching from the Provost.

Robotics Building

Construction of the Robotics Building is slated to begin this academic year for an expected opening sometime between 2020 and 2021. However, it is yet to be determined where or why construction will occur.

“[The Robotics Building will be] much like a technical garage for working on autonomous vehicles,” explained Professor Ulrich Krull, Principal of UTM and Vice-President of the University of Toronto, over email.

“This is not intended to be a significant academic building and will be a work shop, likely located near the Paleomagnetism Lab on Principal’s Road,” though Krull added that this was not confirmed.

At the UTM Campus Council meeting on October 3, Krull announced that UTM had already hired three staff members for the Robotics Department.

“The initial robotics faculty members will join their Computer Science colleagues in Deerfield Hall,” wrote Krull.

Arts & Culture Building

The fate of the Arts & Culture Building remains unknown.

“For Robotics and Arts and Culture, there are no decisions about where the construction will happen, and no decisions about the purpose of the buildings,” wrote Krull.

“The Arts and Culture Building is a placeholder for a project that might take place after the science building is completed, and the science building will not be fully complete before 2022.”

Krull added that discussions are in progress, and that any issues must first be considered by a project planning committee before any plans can be finalized for construction to begin.

“UTM has not even assembled these committees as yet,” said Krull. “When there is a consensus it will be possible to move to the project planning stage to lay out firm plans.”

Ongoing construction continues to place stress on campus operations. So far, construction is in progress for an unnamed new building, to finish the new North Building, and to renovate the Davis Building.

Mississauga mayoral candidates bump heads in UTM debate

Debate focuses on transparency, Ford government, diversity initiatives

Mississauga mayoral candidates bump heads in UTM debate

Five Mississauga mayoral candidates contended at a debate organized by the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) on October 4 at the UTM Innovation Complex atrium. The candidates debated on a wide range of topics, from opinions on Premier Doug Ford’s government to how Mississauga could be more equitable.

Of the eight total candidates, incumbent mayor Bonnie Crombie, Yasmin Pouragheli, Scott Chapman, Syed Qumber Rizvi, and Andrew Lee attended.

Mohsin Khan and Tiger Meng Wu were not present, and controversial candidate Kevin Johnston was not invited, according to the UTMSU. Johnston was charged with promoting hate in an earlier incident in March.

The debate began with opening statements and included a question period.

Opening statements

Crombie spoke about her work in office, highlighting the success of initiatives such as ‘Making Room for the Middle,’ which aims to keep housing affordable for middle-class families and create a safer city.

Rizvi, a second-time candidate in the Mississauga elections, held a similar sentiment to Crombie’s, proposing affordable housing projects for single-parent households and low-income families.

Chapman, another second-time candidate, spoke of an initiative to compensate residents for using solar panels in an effort to encourage sustainability and environmental consciousness.

Pouragheli, a 26-year-old law school graduate, presented her plan for legislative reform and said that she intends to help municipalities raise revenue.

Lee, a retired engineer, has a platform that advocates for seniors and students alike, drawing from his experiences as a senior citizen in Mississauga.

Question period

The panel consisted of questions from the UTMSU on transit, student housing, immigration, and child care, as well as questions submitted from the audience on community engagement and diversity initiatives.

One Mississauga resident was concerned about transparency between the city council and residents, asking candidates about initiatives the city could undertake to facilitate communication and address unheard complaints.

“Call 3-1-1,” suggested Crombie, referring to the city’s hotline connecting residents to city services and information.

Chapman proposed a direct line to the mayor’s office, encouraging transparency and open communication between residents and the council.

Candidates were also asked questions regarding recent issues such as the changes to the Ontario sexual education curriculum and the increase in minimum wage.

Most of the candidates present looked unfavourably on the provincial government’s decision to revert to an older version of the curriculum.

Chapman said that he was “disappointed” in Ford’s decision as it would impact the quality of education in Mississauga schools.

“I feel that our students should be taught in the schools, not by people their own age and misinformed.”

Pouragheli expressed her support for the 2015 curriculum implemented by the previous provincial government, commenting that “there needs to be a dialogue regarding sensitive topics,” as children are being exposed to sensitive information at a much younger age from the prevalence of social media and the internet.

Crombie also expressed her support for the 2015 curriculum, especially as it taught students about topics such as cyberbullying, gender identity, and consent. She noted that parental consultation is needed to put forward an updated curriculum and allow transparency between school boards and parents.

Lee shared Crombie’s view, calling for a proper curriculum that involves both school board officials and parents.

“Sex education should have two parts,” he said. “One: knowledge education, and two: behaviour education.”

Candidates also expressed strong support for the minimum wage increase.

Chapman said that he is a strong believer in the minimum wage increase as it provides a larger disposable income for families in need.

Echoing that, Crombie said that “people have to have a minimum income to succeed.”

When asked about a possible $15 minimum wage, Pouragheli said, “I think we should keep it as it is and see what happens to the economy in a few years.”

On top of minimum wage, she suggested adding additional services for families in need.

While Lee supported the minimum wage increase, he also acknowledged that wages should be set according to standards of living and need to be balanced.

Toward the end of the debate, an audience member asked about diversity and equity initiatives in employment and what candidates would do to encourage inclusion.

Crombie suggested removing names on résumés, a practice used by employers to prevent bias and focus on merit. She added that jobs serving the community, such as police services and firefighting, should reflect the diverse community that they serve and suggested advertising jobs in cultural newspapers.

Pouragheli agreed with Crombie on removing names on applications, although she said that there could still be small indicators and leeway for bias. Chapman noted that, on top of removing names in job applications, gender also should be removed to address further bias.

Recalling his experience seeking employment in 1973, Lee agreed with merit-based applications and called for greater equity initiatives. Rizvi said that the mayor of Mississauga would look past bias and take opinions, regardless of race.

Advance voting for UTM students happened from October 13–14 at all community centres and elementary and secondary schools in the Ward 8 area.

On October 22, UTM students will have access to various voting locations near campus. St. Mark Separate School, South Common Community Centre, Holy Name of Mary College School, Erindale Secondary School, Oakridge Public School, St. Margaret of Scotland Elementary School, and St. Clare Separate School in Mississauga all offer polling booths close to their classrooms.

CAMH settles with U of T professor Kenneth Zucker over 2015 report

CAMH agrees to pay $586,000, issues public apology

CAMH settles with U of T professor Kenneth Zucker over 2015 report

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has settled with U of T professor Kenneth Zucker over a 2015 report that erroneously described Zucker’s work at the centre. CAMH has also agreed to pay Zucker $586,000 in damages, legal fees, and interest.

The report in question detailed Zucker’s work as the former leader of the functional clinical and research team at the now-closed Child, Youth, and Family Gender Identity Clinic. The report falsely stated that he insulted a patient and practised conversion therapy on people who identified as transgender.

The external review, which included complaints against Zucker, was removed from the CAMH website in early 2016. Zucker was fired from CAMH after the review was published.

CAMH apologized “without reservation to Zucker for the flaws in the process that led to errors in the report not being discovered,” stating that the “the report contained some errors about Dr. Zucker’s clinical practice and interactions with patients.”

CAMH spokesperson Sean O’Malley offered the following statement via email to The Varsity:

“CAMH has reached a settlement with Dr. Ken Zucker following his departure from CAMH in 2015. CAMH stands by its decision to close the child and youth gender identity clinic following an external review which concluded the clinic was not meeting the needs of gender expansive and trans children and their families. We believe our modernized approach to delivering services to youth better supports diverse patients through best practice and timely care.”

In an interview with The Varsity, Zucker said that he “wasn’t able to speak publicly for three years” since the release of the report. He takes solace in the non-financial aspects of the settlement, particularly the public apology, which he claims has allowed him to be “vindicated and liberated” of false allegations.

The aim of Zucker’s work was to “reduce gender dysphoria” in children and youth, and he used one of three predominant approaches, which he refers to as “developmentally informed therapy,” to do so. Gender dysphoria and identifying as transgender are not the same thing — there is a misunderstanding of terminology that feeds the contentious debate in the field of gender dysphoria, according to Zucker.

Zucker expressed his concern with the relationship between his case and what he said is the broader political phenomenon in which academics cannot openly discuss their thoughts due to fear of retribution.

To Zucker, his case is an example of the “authoritarian scene we are creating.”

Disclosure: The Varsity’s reporting on the CAMH report was the subject of a legal complaint from Zucker in 2016, settled in 2017.

The Breakdown: Travelling to the US after cannabis legalization

Tensions expected to rise amid cross-border stance on cannabis

The Breakdown: Travelling to the US after cannabis legalization

The impending legalization of cannabis in Canada has posed significant limitations in terms of U.S.-Canadian travel, and the overall legality of the substance on American soil.

The U.S. has an ambiguous relationship with cannabis use across its states. Despite 30 states legalizing medical use of the drug and nine states legalizing recreational use, the federal government still views cannabis as a controlled substance and Customs and Border Patrol is against those travelling with cannabis or in affiliation with the pot industry.

Even when travelling to states where cannabis is legal — such as Maine — travellers suspected of carrying copious amounts or those who are caught under the influence will be turned away.

Medical cannabis users are also not allowed entry even with a prescription. Marijuana-related paraphernalia, such as rolling papers and bongs, are also not permitted.

Travelling to the United States

According to an updated October 9 statement on the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website, travellers entering the U.S. are expected to adhere to U.S. laws and regulations regarding cannabis. Respective policies will not change in accordance to legalization.

“Requirements for international travelers wishing to enter the United States are governed by and conducted in accordance with U.S. Federal Law, which supersedes state laws,” reads the statement.

“Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production, and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. Federal Law.”

The agency also added that violating these laws may result in “denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension.”

The statement is ambiguous in terms of smoking and consuming cannabis on the Canadian border and does not specify whether travellers will face consequences for legal use of the drug.

However, Canadians are not permitted to purchase cannabis and related paraphernalia from legalized states, as doing so will result in criminal penalties both at home and abroad.

Workers in the cannabis industry

Canadians involved in the cannabis industry may also be barred from entering if they are travelling for work-related purposes.

This is a major issue for investors and business owners hoping to expand the cannabis market into legal states.

The extent of these work-related travels also remains a major grey area. Companies will have to be cautious in making sure that employees are not barred from travel for suspected illegal drug trafficking. Workers will still be able to visit the U.S. for leisure travel.

Those travelling with a Nexus card will also be held accountable and are not exempt from US laws and regulations on cannabis. The card will be confiscated if its user violates substance laws.

If you are denied entry for cannabis use and trafficking, a border patrol officer will seize the cannabis on hand and deem you inadmissible for entry to the United States.

Canadians may face hefty fines and possible jail time as well, though determinations on criminal enforcement is up to the trained border patrol officer based on the situation and information at hand.