February 22nd, 2019

U of L ready for ‘higher’ learning


By Mabell, Dave on September 20, 2018.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

With less than one month before legalization, students at the University of Lethbridge have learned where they may smoke marijuana.

But Lethbridge College has not yet announced its cannabis policy. And officials at Lethbridge City Hall have not reached a decision on where – apart from their own home – city residents may “toke up.”

Following up on its earlier initiatives with tobacco smoke, the U of L has identified five outdoor areas where students, faculty, visitors and staff can light up legally. Like tobacco, marijuana products won’t be sold on campus but anyone (18 and older) may have those materials in their possession.

At the same time, the U of L policy says students will be expected to come to classes “fit for learning.”

The university’s policy was struck after extensive consultation, explains Kathleen Massey, associate vice-president for students. It’s “a balanced policy,” she adds.

“Our focus is on taking an educational stance,” Massey says.

Providing students “good information” should lead to good decisions, officials expect.

That process included marijuana policy information updates during student orientation sessions earlier this month, she says.

“It’s important to get that to the students early.”

Students who use marijuana for medical purposes will be accommodated on case-by-case basis, she says, as they have been in recent years.

For those considering marijuana use, she adds, there are resources and links to information posted to the university’s websites.

Students are also reminded about the university’s tobacco use policies, Massey says.

“We have not softened our stance on (tobacco) smoking.”

Earlier this year, the province-wide Action on Smoking and Health organization awarded the university a “B” for its tobacco-reduction initiatives; Lethbridge College got a “C.” (This week, ASH issued report cards for most of the province’s school boards).

While enforcing rules of conduct can be challenging, Massey says U of L students take the initiative to speak to someone who’s compromising their smoke-free environment.

“It’s a tight-knit community” in that respect.

Based on that level of compliance, Massey is expecting a smooth implementation of the new policies on Oct. 17. But she’ll be ready for any hiccups.

“We’ll see, and we’ll respond.”

Across the river at Lethbridge College, officials are reported to be “in the final stages of developing our rules around cannabis on campus,” with an announcement possibly next week.

While some post-secondary institutions have laid out their rules, still others have delayed.

Bow Valley College, a downtown Calgary campus where the U of L leases space, has issued an outright ban on marijuana. Mount Royal University for now is keeping its designated tobacco smoking areas but following the city’s direction and banning cannabis smoking on campus. The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology is also banning marijuana.

But the Universities of Alberta and Calgary – the province’s largest – have yet to reveal their response to nationwide legalization.

In British Columbia, the University of Victoria is reported to be considering a policy not unlike that announced by the U of L.

But the University of British Columbia has not yet published its policy on marijuana. Neither has Simon Fraser University – identified with counter-cultural movements from the day it opened.

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