Cannabis on campus: Nova Scotia colleges and universities update rules ahead of legalization

FILE - Nova Scotia universities have updated their rules ahead of cannabis legalization in the country.
FILE - Nova Scotia universities have updated their rules ahead of cannabis legalization in the country. The Canadian Press File/Graham Hughes

As the Oct. 17 cannabis legalization date fast approaches, post-secondary institutions are updating their smoking rules on campus and in residences.

The regulations also cover edible products, storage of cannabis, and the display of cannabis paraphernalia.

READ MORE: Halifax now accepting requests for designated smoking areas

Here’s a look at what students and staff can expect:

Dalhousie University

The south-end Halifax campus already has a no-smoking policy, which came into effect on Sept. 1, 2003. That policy extends to cannabis smoking, and bans smoking from all university buildings, residences, property and vehicles.

Dalhousie was the first university in Canada to declare its property smoke-free.

With the legalization of cannabis, the university has updated its residence policies, which will come into effect once the federal Cannabis Act comes into force.

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Students in residence will be prohibited from smoking or vaping cannabis in residence, possessing cannabis under the age of 19 and improperly storing cannabis.

“Cannabis must be stored in such a way that any smell is undetectable outside of the student’s residence room or, in a shared room, by roommates. Complaints of strong odour of cannabis that affects members of the community will be a violation under this policy,” the university said in a statement.

Residents will also not be allowed to grow or have cannabis plants, sell or distribute cannabis, or provide cannabis to those under the age of 19. “Display trophies” and window displays of bongs, pipes, grinders and other paraphernalia is also prohibited.

Saint Mary’s University

Halifax’s other downtown-area campus is also designated a smoke-free campus, and the rule will apply to cannabis once it is legal.

“The same rules apply to cannabis as for tobacco products. There is no consumption allowed on campus. That means in residence or anywhere on campus including outdoors,” said spokesperson Cale Loney, in an e-mail.

Anyone who smokes is expected to leave the university property to do so.

“The University asks members of the Saint Mary’s Community to help maintain a positive relationship with our neighbours and to respect neighbouring properties near or adjacent to the University,” states the SMU smoke-free campus and tobacco use policy.

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Loney says SMU’s residences will remain cannabis-free, as well.


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Mount Saint Vincent University

The university on the Bedford Highway has amended its smoking regulation to include cannabis.

Smoking of any kind is prohibited inside MSVU buildings, but is permitted outside so long as it’s at least 10 metres away from any building. The only exception is the Child Study Centre, where smoking is not permitted within a 30-metre radius around the building.

Cannabis products, like alcohol, will not be permitted in any administrative or academic building on campus.

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In residence, students over the age of 19 will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of “legally-distributed cannabis” from the NSLC in Nova Scotia.

“Students possessing cannabis in Residence must store it (and accessories) in locked, opaque containers that contain the smell and ensure cannabis cannot be visually identified,” the university states in its policy.

Students are prohibited from selling or distributing cannabis, possessing or consuming edibles, cooking with cannabis, possessing or consuming cannabis in common areas and growing cannabis.

Cape Breton University

The Sydney, N.S. university has announced it is moving to a smoke-free campus effective Oct. 17, but will be creating two designated smoking areas to ensure safety.

The new rules cover cannabis, tobacco, e-cigarettes, and hookahs. It will apply to students, employees, contract service workers and visitors to campus.

President and vice-chancellor David C. Dingwall said in a statement that the school is committed to providing a healthy learning environment, but decided to have two designated smoking areas because of the school’s location on the Sydney-Glace Bay Highway. The university says the Department of Transportation estimates the daily traffic count on the highway is 25,000 and it would be too dangerous to expect people to leave the university property in order to smoke.

A map showing the two designated smoking areas on the CBU campus. Cape Breton University

The university has also amended several other policies that deal with codes of conduct. Employees and students are expected to be in work and class unimpaired. Employees are also prohibited from using cannabis during work hours or on university property.

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Students will also be prohibited from growing cannabis in residence.

St. Francis Xavier University

The university in Antigonish, N.S. approved its cannabis policy in August of this year. The rules apply to staff, faculty, students, and visitors.

Per Nova Scotia provincial regulations, people over the age of 19 will be legally permitted to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis. However, smoking cannabis or tobacco is prohibited in any building on campus or within 20 metres of an entrance or air intake to a building.

Cannabis use is also prohibited in vehicles by passengers or the driver. Cannabis will have to be stored in a closed, fastened package that is out of reach to everyone in the vehicle.

Cannabis products will not be allowed in academic or administrative buildings on campus. As well, students, staff and faculty are expected to be unimpaired while in the workplace, attending events and while in classes and meetings.

In residence, smoking or vaping is not permitted. Any cannabis that is kept in residence will have to be kept in an air-tight container. Bongs, pipes and paraphernalia must be kept “clean and free of residue.”

“It is strongly recommended that students avoid storing any quantity in the residence,” the policy states.

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While growing cannabis is legal, the university says it will not be permitted in residence or anywhere on campus.


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Acadia University

Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. has been a smoke-free campus since 2006. Smoking is prohibited in university buildings, in residences, on campus grounds and in personal vehicles that are parked on campus property.

In residence, students over the age of 19 will be allowed to possess cannabis, so long as it is stored in a sealed, airtight container. Smoking cannabis is not permitted in residence, however.

While edibles are not permitted to be cooked or baked within residence, those 19 and over are allowed to consume edibles in residence.

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Cannabis plants cannot be grown or kept in residence buildings.


Nova Scotia Community College has updated its smoke-free policy effective Sept. 1.

It prohibits cannabis smoking at its campuses across the province, and limits tobacco and e-cigarette smoking to designated areas. Smoking, in general, is prohibited in any college-owned or leased vehicles and in personal vehicles on college property.

Those who are accommodated to smoke medicinal cannabis will only be allowed to do so at designated locations.

Université Sainte-Anne

The francophone university in Pointe-de-l’Église says it will be treating cannabis smoking the same as cigarette smoking. It will be prohibited in student residences.

As well, it will be prohibited to use cannabis as an ingredient while cooking in residences.

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