New University of Alberta cannabis policy will designate pot-smoking zones

Click to play video: 'Edmonton post-secondary schools hash out cannabis policy'
Edmonton post-secondary schools hash out cannabis policy
WATCH ABOVE: While the University of Alberta plans to create designated pot-smoking zones, NAIT used its smoke-free campus policy as a jumping off point to its new impairment policy. Kent Morrison explains. – Sep 13, 2018

The University of Alberta’s Cannabis Working Group has submitted its report to school administration and the recommendations were posted online on Tuesday.

The report contains 19 recommendations — which administration has accepted — surrounding cannabis use on campus, in student residences and at university events once it’s legal on Oct. 17.

READ MORE: Online pot shopping will require double ID check in Alberta

Among the suggested rules, the group says:

  • Smoking and vaping of cannabis products should be permitted on university campuses but limited to a small number of specific locations. Those locations should be safe, accessible and comply with all legislation. They should also be located at least 10 metres away from entrances, windows and non-smokers.
  • Growing, smoking, vaping and cooking cannabis should not be allowed inside residence buildings nor inside any university building.
  • Consuming cannabis in any way at university events should be prohibited for at least one year so the issue of liability can be assessed.
  • Sale, advertising, branding and sponsorship of cannabis products should be banned on university campuses or at university events.
  • Harm reduction strategies should be developed for staff and students.
  • Workplace impairment policy should be completed, including education, communication and training for front-line staff and supervisors.
  • Effects of cannabis legalization should be reviewed after six months and again after one year. The university should be prepared to make any needed policy changes.
  • A new working group should create a “clean air strategy” for the university, which should include a program to “minimize student, staff, and faculty exposure to smoke from cigarettes, inhaled cannabis, vapes and hookah pipes.”

While administration has started moving forward with these recommendations, the working group is encouraging people to share their thoughts and comments about the report.

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Scroll down to read the full U of A Cannabis Legislation report.

“We’re trying to strike that balance between ensuring the institution can meet its requirements under the legislation but also ensuring that we’re respecting the rights and values of others who may not want to be impacted by the odor and some of the other effects that come along with the consumption of cannabis,” said Kevin Friese, the U of A’s assistant dean of Health and Wellness.

RELATED: Edmonton councillors put cannabis bylaw on hold for more public engagement

The university says its approach to cannabis is more restrictive than the city’s bylaw, as it stands currently. It adds that it is a private property and is therefore “permitted to make policies that are different than the surrounding community bylaws.”

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Watch: Classes are well underway at the University of Alberta and officials are still prepping the rules around the use of marijuana on campus. A new report released Tuesday makes recommendations on what that could look like. Albert Delitala explains.

Click to play video: 'University of Alberta cannabis policy will designate pot-smoking zones'
University of Alberta cannabis policy will designate pot-smoking zones

The working group also compared its recommendations to other post-secondary institutions’ cannabis policies. It said the University of Calgary is still working on its approach and “will base its policy on city bylaws,” the University of Lethbridge intends to set up areas on its campus where cannabis smoking and vaping is allowed, MacEwan University is considering whether to allow cannabis in the pre-existing smoking area near the student residence or whether a separate area should be designated, NAIT is a smoke-free campus whose “existing policy refers to all smoking-based products.”

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NAIT used its non-smoking campus-wide policy as a starting off point to develop its new impairment policy that includes all drugs and alcohol.

“We had a different lens than some other schools,” explained Clint Galloway, director of student well-being and community.

“Rather than having a cannabis policy, we decided to develop an impairment policy to be a little broader scope.

“We have different classroom settings and different lab settings than most — crane hoisting, welding, those type of labs, culinary programs — they have a higher sensitivity to safety so we really want to look at it from a safety lens and from a harm-reduction lens.”

READ MORE: Doobie dos and dont’s: Alberta outlines rules for retail marijuana sales

NAIT doesn’t currently have student residences so that was an element the task force didn’t have to consider, Galloway said.

Like most policies on campus, NAIT will re-evaluate its impairment policy and change it as needed. It will also roll out communication of this policy to students and staff through online posts, emails and in-person “lunch and learn” presentations before Oct. 17.

Galloway doesn’t expect much pushback since NAIT’s approach is based on health and safety and not moral judgement.

“Nothing really changes for our students and staff. We are an institution. We don’t allow the use of legal narcotics or alcohol outside of licensed premises and that doesn’t change under our impairment policy. Our impairment policy will cover the fact that students won’t be able to use illicit drugs, recreational drugs or alcohol — with the exception of alcohol in licensed areas.”

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READ MORE: Alberta cannabis sales website contract awarded to Ohio-based company

Andre Bourgeois, vice-president of Student Life for the U of A Students’ Union, was looking forward to the school providing clear guidelines for students — for both on and off campus.

“This is particularly important if you look at students who might not be from Canada originally — our international student population, in particular — it’s going to be important to make sure all students are educated and aware.”

Bourgeois also stressed student safety as a top priority, and helping them understand how to consume cannabis responsibly if they chose to do so.

“We are planning on rolling out an informational campaign to students sometime in October just making sure they know what the rules are surrounding cannabis,” he said.

Watch below: In July, Edmonton city council was forced to put smoking bylaw changes on hold while more public feedback on marijuana smoking was gathered. Now council and administration have that feedback, and new rules could soon be put into place. But as Albert Delitala explains, some think the changes go too far.

Click to play video: 'City of Edmonton considers new rules for tobacco, marijuana smoking after gathering public feedback'
City of Edmonton considers new rules for tobacco, marijuana smoking after gathering public feedback

University of Alberta Cannabis Final Sept 2018 by Emily Mertz on Scribd

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