With cannabis about to be legalized, the issue of cannabis use on Canadian campuses looms large as universities and colleges across the country update their policies before the Oct. 17 deadline.
While some higher learning institutions are taking a zero-tolerance approach to getting high, others are developing more reasonable and common sense based policies. Here’s what we know so far.
University of Victoria
It appears the University of Victoria is taking a more open-minded approach, which makes it stand out amongst BC universities. UVIC is apparently considering cannabis consumption areas as Kane Kilbey, UVIC’s vice president of human resources, told the Vancouver Sun:
“We are focused on those adults living on campus and finding an area near where they live where cannabis can be safely consumed.
Our data tell us that 23 percent of our students have consumed cannabis in the past month, so these behaviours are well-entrenched.”
But whether the consumption spaces will simply be a designated smoke pit or a lounge remains to be seen.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
It appears that Kwantlen Polytechnic University, which has campuses in Richmond, Surrey, Langley, and Cloverdale, is taking a more anti-cannabis stance as KPU’s vice provost for students, Jane Fee, told CBC:
“It‘s likely none of the four campuses will permit smoking or vaping.
The idea will be that you shouldn’t be in class or you shouldn’t be at work if you are impaired in some way, either by alcohol or by cannabis or some other illegal drug”.
She also said that when their smoke-free policy was released earlier in the year, they specifically included “plant-based” to target cannabis, which ignores the fact that tobacco is also a plant!
But do you think students should be banned from class if they smoked a little cannabis beforehand if they aren’t bothering anyone else?
It’s their choice to do so the students are paying to be there, after all.
Given Kwantlen’s apparent stance on cannabis on campus, it comes off as one of the most hypocritical universities on this list as it offers multiple Cannabis Career Training courses online, plus a two-day Retail Cannabis Consultant workshop that basically teaches you how to be a budtender for- which only costs $400!
Despite the fact that Langara College has an interdisciplinary team of scientists called the Langara Cannabis Research Group that is looking into the various effects and uses of cannabis, the college has banned cannabis smoking outright in its Smoke-Free policy.
In terms of penalties for those caught breaking the smoke-free rules, the policy is somewhat vague, only saying that:
“The College will adopt a flexible and supportive approach to responding to violations of this policy by members of the College community. However, an individual who repeatedly violates this policy may be subject to sanctions or other disciplinary measures.”
Sales of cannabis or tobacco on campus are also prohibited.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology is taking a “zero-tolerance” approach to cannabis, according to BCIT student association president Timothy David, who said, “It’s pretty clear why. A lot of our students deal with heavy machinery and equipment. We just can’t have it happen here on campus. The entire policy is really just meant to protect the safety of our students”.
While it may be true that students often work with heavy machinery and equipment, it also reveals a glaring double standard as the Habitat Pub has been serving BCIT students intoxicating drinks for over five decades.
British Columbia’s biggest universities haven’t made up their minds, but indications show that the directions their respective drug policies go in may be very different.
The University of British Columbia hasn’t announced its cannabis policies yet as the newly proposed policies still need to be approved by the board of governors and then undergo public consultations, but it has been shaped by input from the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, which submitted recommendations to the committee in charge of UBC’s cannabis policy.
The student organization said that, “students want the rules governing cannabis use on campus to be as similar as possible to the rules everywhere else” and called for “selling cannabis on campus in single-use servings would help put it on a similar footing with alcohol” which means that UBC may soon see sales of prerolled joints!
It also recommended age-restricted consumption lounges.
Simon Fraser University is still developing its policies with regards to cannabis, but as spokesman Justin Wong told the Vancouver Sun, “Any policy developed will not only comply with the new legislative changes on cannabis but will also prioritize a safe working environment and university experience for students, staff and faculty members”.