Cannabis on campus
What MRU and the City of Calgary are planning for legalization
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
Mount Royal University and universities across the country are coming face-to-face with an interesting predicament. How will they deal with the legalization of cannabis?
Not long after the Senate announcement on June 11, MRU opened registration offering a “Cannabis Education Program,” says the university.
On Oct. 17 cannabis will officially be legalized across Canada. Legalization was a campaign promise from Trudeau’s Liberals in 2015. Originally Trudeau announced that legalization would occur earlier in 2018 near Canada Day, but was delayed to give provinces more time to prepare.
The date is now set in stone and fast approaching.
Cannabis education at MRU
The Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension Credit will be partnering with B.C. university Kwantlen Polytechnic University to offer the program. The program includes and learning about production, management, marketing, sales and development. Courses began on Sept. 17.
Although MRU will be offering cannabis courses, there are still some discussion about how the university will be dealing with cannabis on campus. The university has to consider federal, provincial and municipal bylaws in their decision-making.
The federal government has left a lot of decisions to the provincial governments. The Government of Alberta has released a framework and individuals over the age of 18, will be able to use cannabis recreationally. Individuals over the age of 18 will be able to buy and carry 30 grams at a time and are permitted to grow up to four plants per household.
But, there are a few provincial laws and municipal bylaws that MRU will have to abide by.
Steve Fitterer, Vice President Student Affairs and Campus Life, weighed in on legal cannabis on MRU campus.
“This is new territory for everyone — governments, universities and post-secondary students,” says Fitterer. “It is to be expected that the process is fluid — we’re all learning.”
City of Calgary bylaw
The City of Calgary introduced a bylaw that will come into effect when the Cannabis Act starting on Oct. 17.
The bylaw clearly states that “a person must not smoke, vape or consume cannabis in any public place.”
Fitterer says that MRU will abide by the city’s bylaws.
But, there are opportunities for this to change. City council, by resolution, may change the byaw and designate public areas where “cannabis may be smoked, vaped or consumed.” It is important to note that this will not be in effect Oct. 17 and is only an option for the city to change and update the bylaw in the future.
MRU and Fitterer wanted to also ensure that people are aware that “designated tobacco smoking areas will remain.” The university’s smoking policy will be updated to include Cannabis.
Use of cannabis in MRU residence
Mark Keller, director of Residence Services, says that the university’s residence will abide by both the MRU policy and the city’s bylaws.
Keller confirms that there will also be no smoking of any kind allowed inside or outside residence buildings.
Legalization allows individuals of age to grow up to four marijuana plants. “We will not be allowing students to cultivate marijuana plants in residence, on the advice of legal services and the cannabis on campus working group,” says Keller.
According to an Information for Tenants document by the Alberta Government, “A landlord or condo board may prohibit the smoking of all substances including cannabis in their buildings or on their properties.” The document also informs that “non-smoking consumption, however, may be permitted, but renters and condo occupants should check applicable rules… A landlord may also prohibit the growing of cannabis in the rental agreement.”
Keller explains that residence’s plans are to “ensure we’re following our own policies and working within the boundaries set by the city.”
It will be important for students, faculty and residents to remain constantly informed about decision related to cannabis consumption in certain areas.