When cannabis use is legalized on Oct. 17, don’t bother lighting up on the campus of Thompson Rivers University.
The institution has taken steps to ban cannabis use on campus while declining to take a similar stance on alcohol or tobacco.
A draft university policy on alcohol, cannabis and tobacco lists recreational cannabis use as “prohibited,” while allowing for medicinal use provided the user can produce a prescription from a “qualified physician.” Drinking alcohol in licensed premises and smoking tobacco in designated areas would be allowed under the proposed policy.
TRU spokeswoman Darshan Lindsay said the university hopes to have a policy in place before cannabis legalization in October.
She said the school reached out to other universities before crafting its draft policy.
Minutes of a meeting of TRU’s joint health and safety committee from March show a unanimous vote to classify marijuana an “intoxicant” and ban its use on campus.
Pat Barringer, trades instructor and co-chair of the committee, said his concerns regard student safety.
“My problem with this is I work with machinery in the trades building,” he said. “There’s no way in hell you can smoke pot or drink beer and then operate machinery.”
Psychology professor Chris Montoya, another member of the committee, also expressed safety concerns.
“A student cannot get drunk walking next to another student drinking a beer,” he told KTW.
“However, students, staff and faculty can get stoned breathing in second-hand smoke.”
Lindsay said the school is treating cannabis differently than alcohol because of safeguards that are in place for drinkers.
“Really, the difference is that there are currently, in terms of alcohol, some significant systems in place to control sale and consumption,” she said. “Those systems don’t exist for cannabis. It is a new area.”
The university’s food-services branch operates The Den, a licensed bar inside the Campus Activity Centre, and various campus events regularly obtain liquor licences from the provincial government.
But, according to the proposed policy, those events could be in for some changes, as well.
University and campus events at which alcohol is served will have to meet strict new guidelines, the proposed policy dictates, including limits on advertising and branding language.
“Advertising of events must be responsible, in good taste and not promote alcohol as the focus of the event,” the draft policy reads.
“Terms that promote immoderate alcohol consumption such as ‘bash,’ ‘drunk,’ ‘kegger,’ ‘wipeout,’ ‘blackout,’ ‘rager,’ etc. are not permitted.”
Lindsay said that could mean some events have to change their name.
“By being clear on our policy around language, it helps define what we mean when we talk about consuming alcohol in a responsible manner,” she said.
“Any events that take place on campus would fall under these regulations. The exception is personal residences [student and private housing].”
TRU Students’ Union external vice-president Cole Hickson said he was unaware of any potential changes that might have to be made to the union’s annual Last Class Bash event, an on-campus party which features beer gardens prominently.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any problems with that,” he said. “I’m pretty sure TRU will respect the event.”
According to Lindsay, the alcohol and tobacco policies were due for an update and the university had to take a stand on cannabis given its impending legalization.
“The proposed policy is in keeping with our approach to foster a safe and healthy environment for all who are on campus, and that this environment supports the best educational opportunities for our students,” she said.
Lindsay said the proposed policy is slated for review by the president’s council later this month.