There are four constituency groups that reside within the SUB: the Third Space (formerly the Women’s Centre), UVic Pride, the Society for Students with a Disability, and the Students of Colour Collective. These groups provide essential services to marginalized students around campus, and are widely considered valuable institutions.
But if cannabis advocates have their way at the upcoming UVSS Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday, Oct. 27, there’ll be one more organization joining their ranks: Hempology 101. The AGM will have students vote on two special resolutions adding the club to the pre-existing list of constituency organizations in the UVSS constitution and bylaws.
According to the UVSS policy, any special resolution can be added to the agenda for a general meeting if a petition signed by “not less than one percent” of the society’s membership is presented to the board of directors.
A petition in this case would require 185 signatures. Hempology 101 got 196.
Hempology 101 was originally formed 21 years ago by Ted Smith, a well-known cannabis advocate on Vancouver Island. Since then, the student club has hosted social events for cannabis users, including weekly “4/20” meetups, and educated its members on cannabis safe practices and other advocacy efforts.
Both Smith and Hempology 101 see ratification at the AGM as the next logical step for the club. In an email signed by club execs, the Martlet was told that “becoming a constituency group will affect our advocacy, because our movement will become more legitimized and the students of cannabis culture will be represented by us thoroughly within the UVSS.”
“Not only can we be a voice for students who feel they can’t speak up about cannabis-related issues,” the club wrote, “but being a recognized advocacy group will bring greater support and awareness for cannabis culture to campus.”
“There’s a wide range of opportunities in employment for people now working in part or in whole with the cannabis plant,” said Smith. “And so we want our club to be used as a vehicle for students that are interested in cannabis to learn more about it, to learn more about the industry.”
If ratified, Hempology 101 would not immediately receive a student levy like the other constituency groups unless it held a separate referendum, according to Kevin Tupper, UVSS director of finance and operations. “They could exist as a constituency group without a fee levy for an indefinite amount of time.”
Hempology 101 would lose their club status as well, according to Emma Kinakin, UVSS director of student affairs, and with it, their clubs funding. However, Kinakin clarified that Hempology 101 would then have access to a control account that constituency groups currently pull funding resources from.
Trickier still is whether or not Hempology 101’s advocacy makes it comparable to other constituency groups whose memberships are clearly defined by and work against marginalization. Lux West, UVic Pride office coordinator, said they weren’t sure how to feel about the petition for that reason.
“Within most of the advocacy groups, membership is pretty clearly defined by self-identification,” West said, “but also self-identification within the context of racialization and gender and all that stuff. But pretty much anybody could be a weed user.”
“It seems to me that most of the violence and legal issues around weed right now are affecting primarily racialized people,” they said. “I would be curious to see if [Hempology 101] has a strong anti-racist stance . . . I would have some questions how they address intersectionality.”
Smith said that even though cannabis use is in most cases a choice, it isn’t for many others, and it’s the stigma against those users that Hempology 101 is working to fight.
“Obviously we are different,” Smith said. “A lot of people that use cannabis do it entirely by choice, but we are a large community of people that have been kept in the closet for a very long time because of this stigma.”
“Marginalization is often associated with but not limited to gender, race, and ethnicity,” Hempology 101 wrote in their email. “Therefore, we hope [other constituency groups] understand that we are not a group looking to take their spotlight, but simply [to] become a recognized group who can advocate on behalf of a large group of students who face the same barriers.”
Whatever happens on Oct. 27, Alysha Flipse, UVSS director of outreach and university relations, said the board will be there to support the decision. “Once the students speak at an AGM, the board will follow through with whatever decision that is.”
The UVSS Annual General Meeting will take place in the Vertigo Lounge in the SUB from 3 to 6 p.m. There will be pizza and door prizes. More details at the Facebook event page.
Clarification: It’s been brought to our attention that this article does not include the Native Students Union as a constituency organization. The confusion comes from the language of the AGM motion that would see Hempology 101 added to the list of constituency organizations under Bylaw 17.2(b) and 5.1(b), neither of which include the Native Students Union. We did not include them in this article’s lede for that reason, though we recognize it advocates for issues of marginalization in a similar fashion to the other four groups.