Mount Allison codes of conduct updated to reflect provincial legislation
Legislation regulating the consumption of cannabis went into effect yesterday, and the Sackville location of the Cannabis NB storefront opened its doors for the first time. Mount Allison has been preparing for the legalization of cannabis since early September, starting with an update to its code of conduct.
“Effectively, the message is [that] we are seeking to comply with provincial legislation, and provincial legislation says that there’s no smoking of cannabis in public spaces,” said Adam Christie, director of student life and international services. Mt. A’s campus is designated as a public space, meaning smoking or vaping cannabis anywhere on University property will be both illegal and a violation of the school’s no-smoking policy.
Cannabis regulation varies from province to province. In New Brunswick, people 19 and older can possess and consume cannabis purchased from Cannabis NB in stores or online. Cannabis can only be consumed on private property, and landlords can dictate whether their tenants can smoke cannabis indoors, much like cigarettes.
Other changes to University policy include updates to the residence life and student codes of conduct to include reference to cannabis.
At the time of writing, updates to the student code of conduct – which applies to all Mt. A students, not just those in residence – had not been released to the public yet.
Students living in residence who are 19 years of age or older are allowed to possess 30 grams of legally distributed cannabis in an airtight, “clearly labeled” container stored in their room. Students cannot cook or bake with cannabis or derivative products in residence. Smoking inside residence buildings or anywhere on campus is also prohibited, though use of edible cannabis products is not.
“Primarily it’s a smell issue,” said Christie regarding cooking and baking with cannabis. “Our residence community is that – it’s a community. You’ve got a number of people living in close proximity to each other, and the actions and behaviours of one person can impact the quality of someone’s residence experience. One of the biggest areas we see that playing out is with regard to smells. It could be anything – it could be cannabis use, it could be somebody with just a really stinky room. We’re trying to maintain a positive residence experience that’s going to be considerate of everybody’s needs and wants.”
The University has also been preparing for cannabis legalization by educating students, both legally and medically. Orientation week featured information about cannabis consumption, including a statement of University policy on the Mt. A Guidebook app, and Jessica Griffin was hired in September as the University’s mental health and harm reduction educator.
Generally, however, the University was not concerned with preventing or discouraging students from using cannabis, rather hoping to encourage healthy and responsible consumption in students’ best interests. “People have the right to make choices. We want students to make responsible and informed choices,” said Griffin.
However, the process of education is ongoing. “How do we educate people while we’re still trying to navigate what cannabis harms are?” said Griffin. “There have been researched, positive, sort of medicinal purposes that are being talked about, and then if you read long enough they will be contradicted. I mean, that’s always good research when there’s lots of conversations going on, but you’ll see one end of the spectrum saying there are some serious, serious harms and the other going ‘Ehh, I’m not sure!’ ”
“Let’s just start talking about it, for one,” said Griffin. “Let’s take the information that seems to be credible from reliable sources … Impaired driving would be an obvious one.” Griffin also said that mixing cannabis with alcohol or other drugs were other concerns she felt confident advising students about. Griffin emphasized her desire to open up a dialogue and make students comfortable talking about cannabis, alcohol and other drug use and encouraged students to come speak to her.
Christie also had concerns about some students’ use of cannabis edibles, which are currently legal but unregulated by Cannabis NB and may be cooked or baked by individuals who may or may not have any expertise in the area. “One of our concerns is [that] you’ve got inexperienced consumers who are not going to feel the effects quickly, and are going to feel they need to take more to get that effect, not knowing that it takes a while for the effects to kick in. They’re going to be in a situation where they’ve consumed too much and they have a reaction to that,” said Christie.
Students who use cannabis for medical purposes may receive accommodations through the Meighen Centre. “Allowances can be made for the smoking of medical cannabis on campus on a case-by-case basis and with prior approval,” wrote Anne Comfort, director of student wellness and accessibility, in an email to the Argosy. “Many students who use medical cannabis are able to use non-smoking version [sic] of cannabis and therefore [it] could be consumed in residence.”
New Brunswick’s cannabis regulations are some of the more restrictive pieces of provincial legislation in Canada. Other provinces are slightly more lenient, like Nova Scotia, which bans cannabis consumption only where tobacco use is not permitted, or British Columbia, which disallows use in cars, around children and where tobacco use is illegal.
“I think it’s an interesting time in Canadian history, and I think it’s an interesting time from a legal standpoint,” said Christie. “We’ve got a provincial layer of legislation and we’ve got a federal layer of legislation. It’ll be interesting to see how the two interact. I think that cannabis consumers, whether it was the intention of the law or not, are going to find the legalization of cannabis not a day of freedom necessarily. It could still be very restrictive for them.”