As a response to the legalization of cannabis in Canada on October 17, 2018, the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus initiated a review of the current Substance Use Policy. Following recommendations from an advisory committee made up of current UAlberta Augustana students, staff and faculty, and based on consultation with the wider campus community, North Campus policy and Camrose bylaw, an interim policy permitting the consumption of cannabis and alcohol in select areas on campus will begin in the Fall of 2019.
The working group chose to review the entire substance use policy, tackling issues corresponding to alcohol and tobacco as well as cannabis, in order to align Augustana with policies set out by North Campus and the federal government.
The working group recommended policy based on feedback from first-year students delivered through orientation and First-Year Seminar courses and smaller, student-based conversation evenings that were held with second, third and fourth-year students. In addition, a general call for framework suggestions was sent to the entire campus community. Faculty, staff and students were invited to consider current North Campus policies and substance use frameworks at other university campuses.
“We had long been hearing about negative unintended consequences of our previous alcohol policy,” said Randal Nickel, Executive Director of Student Life and chair of the substance use committee. “Legalization and the changes to North Campus’ policy gave us a reason to reconsider alcohol at the same time that another major substance with a less supportive general history was becoming legal.”
Using the recommendations of the committee, the interim policy will:
- Permit smoking and vaping in designated areas on campus (see FAQ for details on designated areas)
- Will increase all smoke and vape-free zones around buildings from current policy to 10 metres and will prohibit smoking and vaping in the Quad and in front of the First Year Residence Complex
- Permit storage of cannabis products in residence in accordance with legally allowable quantities
- Prohibit smoking, vaping, cooking and growing of cannabis products in residence and other campus buildings
- Permit alcohol storage and alcohol consumption in personal and private spaces in residences while maintaining alcohol-free zones (see FAQ for details on designated areas and storage limits)
- Increase access to and availability of educational resources that focus on low-risk usage and safe-consumption guidelines towards a harm-reduction approach
- Prohibit sales, advertising, branding and sponsorship of cannabis and alcohol products on university campuses or at university events
According to Dean Allen Berger, “the new approach acknowledges that an unfortunate side effect of the old policies was to drive consumption underground; the new policies are more realistic, with a focus on both reasonable limitations and education.”
Because the new policy has been adopted on an interim basis, an evaluation process will follow within six to twelve months of implementation. The working group will discuss assessment tools such as surveys, town hall meetings, etc. There will then be an opportunity to make adjustments and improvements, wherever needed, in policies, educational programming and enforcement.
“We’re hoping that this new framework will provide safe alternatives to those who currently use these substances in violation of previous policy,” Dean Berger said. “Instead of banning substances and fining our students, this policy will create learning opportunities for appropriate use and will promote health and wellness.”