Cannabis on campus: King’s guidelines changing Oct. 17

With cannabis legalization, King's will roll out new guidelines for campus and residences. (Photo: Kheira Rodot Morellon)

With cannabis legalization, King’s will roll out new guidelines for campus and residences. (Photo: Kheira Rodot Morellon)

“I’m less concerned with a bong on display within the privacy of one’s room than I am with students being aware of some of the mental health impacts,” says Katie Merwin, dean of students here at King’s. Her focus come Oct. 17 will be educating students to make the right decisions when it comes to legalized recreational cannabis.

With legalization comes a new set of guidelines for campus and residences. I sat down with Merwin to discuss these guidelines and find out how they’ll affect our lives at King’s in the era of legal cannabis.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Katie Merwin:  The residence guidelines apply to all people who live in residence and any guest of a student who lives in residence. I as dean of students have updated our residence guidelines to include cannabis now that it will be legal. We’re going to do a big rollout so that students hopefully will pay attention to these changes. It’s largely based on what Dalhousie is doing, with a couple of changes. Some of the cannabis-related behaviours will be prohibited; obviously smoking and vaping cannabis will be prohibited, and possessing or consuming cannabis in common areas, so that would include edibles. Cooking with cannabis is prohibited on campus and in residence; growing or possessing cannabis plants will also be prohibited, and distributing cannabis.

Lane Harrison: And how will students keeping cannabis in their room be treated?

KM: If students are of legal age and choose to purchase cannabis from the legal distributors, from the NSLC, it must be properly stored in such a way that any smell is undetectable, inside or outside a student’s room. Our concern is for the comfort and well-being of all students, and since it’s a shared space, complaints of a strong smell of marijuana is a significant impact to members of the community. So that would be a violation, if there were a strong smell. Also, that may be confused by patrol on campus as being smoking in one’s room.

LH: What about paraphernalia, if someone were to have a bong in their room? How would that be treated?

KM: The intention of all of these guidelines is to be educative; the point is to let students make their decisions and to learn from any decisions, and maybe they would make different decisions next time. We expect our students to promote a safe and non-coercive social environment, but I also don’t think it’s appropriate for me to say, “You can’t live your life.” So we don’t have explicit instructions about drug paraphernalia.

LH: Will information containing your concerns about cannabis be spread to students in residence?  

KM: We want to make sure that students are aware of this information so they can make the decisions that are right for them. The residence team, dons and patrol, have been trained in responding to drug and alcohol abuse. We’re looking into who we might bring in from Dal Health and Wellness, the Emergency Health Services or other people from the community who are experts, to lead an informational workshop. Posters we can absolutely do. The dons will be communicating to the residence students about the changes to the guidelines, which include some cannabis harm reduction information. Just like we do for alcohol.

In an email follow up about students who violate the guidelines, Merwin added that “students who disregard any of the residence policies are subject to discipline up to and including: fines, behavioural contracts, suspension and eviction from residence.”

If you have any questions about the upcoming guideline changes, contact Katie Merwin at [email protected]