Cannabis Legislation Bringing Changes to Augustana

BY CAT CRANDELL

Executive Director of Student Life, Randal Nickel, was interviewed earlier last week about the upcoming laws and campus rules that are being implemented around cannabis, and how students, staff, and faculty will shape the revision of the substances policy in January 2019.

Nickel would like you, dear readers, to know that if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or any kind of input about cannabis on campus, you can email or set up a meeting with him to discuss it further.  

What are the policies on cannabis on campus and in Camrose?

As we mentioned in the email, October 17 was legalization day in Canada. We thought that at Augustana it would make sense to take a look at substances as a whole, not just at cannabis.

The cannabis bylaw in Camrose has become part of the smoking bylaw. So recreational and medical consumption of cannabis will be allowed typically where smoking is allowed. Except where there are some guidelines around no smoking or baking or usage a certain number of metres around schools, parks, that sort of thing.

On campus, because we want to include it with looking at what our tobacco and alcohol policy is, what we’re doing right now is we’re getting feedback from students, staff and faculty, about what everyone would like to see the campus policies be. Until then, there will be no recreational usage on campus allowed. We anticipate that process would be done in the fall, hopefully with the implementation of a new policy, a substance use framework policy, in early 2019.

How will students be able to find out about the bylaws and process on campus?

Partly through your article, and then there’s web pages that is for UAlberta as a whole. It differentiates and identifies what the policies and procedures are on each campus. We will align ourselves with those policies and the bylaws in Camrose, We will be putting the information out via the Students Association as well. Next week there’s also a range of activities, information displays. We’ll also go out on the TV screens, and the weekly newsletter too. Students Associates will have some social media presence as well.

What kind of supports will you have in place if someone wants to get help?

I think there would be access to community based support, as well as on campus. Primarily through the nurse navigator role, who has access to medical and non-medical supports. There are local addictions counselors that we can connect people too, as well as separate HR policies that will be developed across UAlberta. They’re in development right now, but right now the focus is on campus, primarily around students.

How will students be informed about how they should care for themselves while doing cannabis ? For example, how to come down from a bad trip.

There are some low-risk cannabis usage guidelines through Alberta health services that we will be disseminating, having online, as well as other kinds of copies in those info displays this week and beyond. Just to ensure that that will be available, I assume we’ll be putting them on the health and wellness section of our webpages, and also accessible through our Nurse Navigator, as well as through residence services, Students’ Association, offices, that sort of thing. Just to make sure that it’s widely visible.

How will this policy for all substances be enforced?

What we will do, with the alcohol as well, we’re trying to reduce instances where student staff have to patrol enforce these laws, rules, with their peers. UAPS (University of Alberta Protective Services) does play a role in enforcing these policies and procedure when they’re finalized on campus, but we also hope that through the public health, through the support for everyone who wants to use for whatever reason, or doesn’t want to use for whatever reason, that will limit the amount of issues that are brought up where we would need to enforce these kinds of rules.

We’ll also be asking for student, staff, and faculty input, probably starting next week as well with the google form. It is anonymous, that everyone can put around what are their thoughts, concerns, suggestions, about what the policies could look like for cannabis, alcohol, and tobacco. Some might use cannabis, and not want to use tobacco, and vice versa.

What changes will come into effect in January, with the policies regarding alcohol and cannabis will be reviewed and revised?

I definitely don’t want to predetermine the outcome, because we want to take the feedback that we get seriously. I think the only predetermination is that it includes that sort of health and wellness focus, and that services are available. So we want to make sure that whatever that policy looks like, that will be the foundation of it. On the specifics, i think we will explore what the feedback is, and then connect it with those principles of health and wellness, and support available harm reduction for people Then make decisions based on that feedback on what makes the most sense for the campus, and then implement it, because it’s all new. Particularly when it comes to cannabis. If there are changes to the alcohol policy, that will be new as well. Chances are, we won’t get it 100% right. We want to be able to implement, find ways to address issues, shortcoming, or shortfalls. Maybe 2019, the entire year, we can sort of assess where things are at, because that’s when edibles will become legalized as well. By the end of 2019, we’ll hopefully have policies and procedures in place that will work.

Is there anything you want the student body, the faculty, or the staff to know about the policies, or anything regarding the legalization of cannabis?

Well, I’ve already been quite repetitive, I think, in my answers regarding that health and safety and reduced stigma. I think really focusing on, you know, being non-judgemental as people use or don’t use for a variety of reasons. We want to make sure that that’s the focus. We want to work together to develop something that will work for our campus, and keep people safe and healthy, and able to access support if necessary, and focus on the mission of our organization: have a great student experience in and outside the classroom.

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