Students attending Calgary’s universities will be out of luck if they were hoping to take a marijuana smoke break from the books while on campus once weed is legal next month.
Both the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University said Monday they’ll be complying with the city’s recreational cannabis bylaw, which prohibits smoking in public.
The U of C has drafted a cannabis policy which will go into effect on Oct. 17 — the day recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada — which states that consumption in the form of smoking, vaping and ingesting is prohibited in and on all university facilities including residences and field stations.
Anyone carrying marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia on campus will be required to have it in a sealed, scent-proof container. It’s also not allowed to be in any university vehicles.
The school is also banning students from growing cannabis plants as well as the sale and advertisement of weed and related accessories.
“It’s vital that the University of Calgary complies with laws and regulations of all three levels of government, including the city’s bylaw which prohibits the consumption of cannabis in public spaces,” said Linda Dalgetty, the institution’s vice-president of finance and services.
“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.”
Some students, like Jaime Pablo, agree with legalization, but think cannabis doesn’t need to be smoked on campus.
“If you want to consume it, you should be respectful to other people,” said Pablo. “You can’t be drinking in public and also the smell bothers some people.”
Fellow student Kia Ossudallah said the university rules won’t change how people smoke at the U of C.
“Everyone’s going to keep on doing it wherever they want,” Ossudallah said. “It really doesn’t make a difference.”
In an emailed statement to Global News, MRU said it formed a working group that had campus-wide representation to help them come up with a plan to manage cannabis on campus.
MRU said, for now, it’s abiding by the city’s bylaw which prohibits smoking in public, but said it’s continuing to explore options.
It also updated its smoking policy to include cannabis and said designated tobacco smoking areas will stay in place.
SAIT also released a statement saying that it will not allow students to smoke up on school property.
“The provincial government has prohibited the smoking or vaping of cannabis on school property and SAIT will adhere to that restriction. This includes designated smoking areas on campus which are restricted to tobacco products only,” read the statement.
What about other Alberta schools?
Not every university across Alberta has the same rules — some will establish designated pot-smoking zones for students.
Earlier this month, the University of Alberta’s Cannabis Working Group’s report suggesting cannabis should be permitted in a limited, small number of places was accepted by the school administration.
Those locations will be safe, accessible and at least 10 metres away from entrances, windows and non-smokers.
The University of Lethbridge is taking a similar approach, setting aside five spaces on campus where students can smoke pot once it’s legal.
Officials are planning to host a forum with students two months after legalization to see how the policy is working.
The Calgary universities’ decisions come on the heels of city administration abandoning the proposal to establish designated public smoking areas around the city.
—With files from Michael King