University of Calgary bans use of pot on campus, falling in line with city’s stance

Higher learning at the University of Calgary won’t include cannabis when recreational pot is legalized next month.

With just three weeks until the federal government is set to lift legal restrictions against the recreational use of cannabis, the U of C has outlined its policy for pot, which will completely prohibit its consumption anywhere on campus.

Linda Dalgetty, vice-president of finance and services for the U of C, said outlawing the smoking, vaping or ingestion of cannabis aligns with city bylaws on public use of the drug.

“Once the city’s bylaw came out, we really shifted gears,” she said, noting the school underwent a lengthy consultation process with students and faculty prior to implementing the campus-wide policy.

“Our policy also prioritizes the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff by promoting harm reduction programs and resources available to our campus community.”

Under the policy, which comes into effect Oct. 17 in conjunction with federal legislation, cannabis consumption in any form won’t be allowed in any university facilities, including inside residence buildings or field stations, as well as university vehicles.

Those carrying cannabis or related accessories will have to stow and seal them inside scent-proof containers.

The policy also bans cannabis plants from being grown anywhere on campus, while the sale and advertisement of pot or its accessories will be prohibited.

Some provisions will be made under the school’s policy for cannabis used or grown in laboratories on campus for teaching and research, necessary after the Cumming School of Medicine’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute announced a research partnership in July with Olds-based Sundial Growers Inc. to conduct clinical studies into future medical applications for the drug.

Meanwhile, students and staff who are licensed to use cannabis medicinally will continue to be accommodated as they had in the past, with safe spaces on campus available for their use, Dalgetty said.

U of C study released earlier this year, which collected responses from 2,212 students, found 52 per cent acknowledged trying cannabis at least once, with nearly one-third of respondents saying they had tried it in the previous six months.

Some 70 per cent of respondents believed more students would try cannabis when its recreational use is legalized, the survey found.

A website set to launch in early October aims to push the message of harm reduction when it comes to substance use at the university, and will provide access to resources.

“We know that telling people not to consume cannabis or alcohol has been proven to be ineffective,” said Debbie Bruckner, the U of C’s senior director of student wellness.

“Rather, we want to promote harm reduction, by building a safe and supportive community and offering a variety of support and resources so people will feel comfortable enough to access them.”

Last week, the University of Lethbridge announced it would earmark five spots for students to smoke or vape cannabis on campus, with an eye on accommodating the needs of students living away from home.

Mount Royal University, SAIT and Bow Valley College have previously outlawed cannabis use on campus ahead of its legalization.

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