Final Report and Recommendations of the Cannabis Working Group

Legalization of cannabis is scheduled to happen in six weeks and the University of Alberta is now in the final stages of preparing for this…

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Legalization of cannabis is scheduled to happen in six weeks and the University of Alberta is now in the final stages of preparing for this significant change.

Last week the university's cannabis working group submitted its report to administration. The report, which is the result of months of consultation, discussion and research, contains 19 recommendations that address a wide range of issues, from consumption on our campuses to cannabis research. Administration has tentatively accepted the recommendations and will be discussing them with key groups over the coming weeks, including General Faculties Council (GFC) on September 24. (See below for where you can comment.)

With the primary focus on health and safety, the working group suggests an approach that respects the range of values and expectations across our complex community. Here are the highlights of the recommendations:

  • Permit smoking and vaping of cannabis products on university campuses but limit it to a small number of specific locations. The locations should be safe, accessible, and in compliance with all legislation
  • Prohibit growing cannabis and the smoking and vaping of cannabis products inside residence buildings and prohibit cooking with cannabis products (note that these activities are not permitted within any university building)
  • Prohibit any form of consumption of cannabis products at university events, including student group events, for at least one year, to assess liability and other risks
  • Prohibit sales, advertising, branding and sponsorship of cannabis products on university campuses or at university events
  • Recognize that cannabis is not a benign substance and immediately begin to develop harm reduction strategies for staff and students
  • Complete a workplace impairment policy (now underway), including education, communication and training for front line staff and supervisors
  • Prepare to review the effects of cannabis legalization after six months and one year and be prepared to make policy changes if needed
  • Create a new working group to develop a "clean air strategy" for the university, as requested by General Faculties Council. The strategy should develop a program to "minimize student, staff, and faculty exposure to smoke from cigarettes, inhaled cannabis, vapes and hookah pipes"

See the full report, including highlights of the consultations, herehere.

In the weeks leading up to October 17, we will, among other things, be evaluating where cannabis consumption zones might be located, developing programs to help inform students and staff about safe use of cannabis, and communicating about roles and responsibilities of administrative units.

The university also has to be ready to alter its course. The City of Edmonton has not made a final decision about its Public Places Bylaw, which sets out the restrictions concerning where and when cannabis (as well as tobacco) can be consumed in public. If Edmonton elects to ban public consumption, the university must do likewise.

There's still time for discussion. Cannabis legalization is a complex issue. Did we miss anything? Are there flaws in the recommendations? Please take some time to review the working group's report and comment on anything it contains. The working group has set up a form for this purpose.

My thanks to the members of the working group and advisory group, as well as the thousands of faculty, staff, and students who provided input through the survey, town hall and other venues.

Steve Dew - Provost and Vice President (Academic)