As cannabis legalization approaches, UBC looks to update its on-campus smoking policy

The university community is getting its first look at how UBC plans to regulate the use, cultivation and sale of cannabis on campus.

UBC’s Marijuana Policy Development Committee (MPDC) will present a drafted revision of the university’s existing smoking and smoking product promotion policy (Policy 15) to the UBC Board of Governors (BoG) on September 13. This takes place in preparation for the drug’s legalization by the federal Cannabis Act, which will take effect on October 17.

If approved, the university would then consult community members and present a final policy in February 2019.

Developed by the university’s MPDC with consultation from the AMS, the updated Policy 15 submission treats cannabis largely in the same way as tobacco, with smoking limited to designated zones across campus.

Contrarily, while the sale of tobacco will still be banned on campus, the sale of cannabis would be permitted under specified guidelines — although the sale of paraphernalia like pipes and vaporizers is still banned outright.

While the submission does not foresee a “significant shift in student behaviour” beyond increased usage, the university would also be launching educational materials to inform students of the risks of cannabis use and consumption.

The AMS is satisfied with the current version of Policy 15, wrote AMS VP Academic and University Affairs Max Holmes in a statement to The Ubyssey. “[...] AMS services, especially Vice look forward to continuing their work on educating students about healthy consumption and harm reduction.


The draft guidelines for smoking areas in the curreny policy are considerably more liberal than other universities in Canada, many of which have banned all smoking outright.

The MPDC and UBC Campus and Community Planning considered a blanket “no-smoking” policy on the Vancouver campus, but opted instead to allow vaping and smoking in established zones for tobacco.

“Analysis to date has not included engagement with smokers, or vulnerable populations who will require accommodation,” reads the executive summary presented by Hubert Lai and Michael Serebriakov, two of the university’s legal counsels.

“Implementation of an expansive No Smoking Area will likely push smokers to the perimeter of that area. Some research suggests accommodation in specific areas within the precinct can be more effective.”

While the proposed updates to Policy 15 don’t directly include housing, residence lease agreements will be updated to include prohibitions around the growth, sale or consumption of cannabis in or outside of student residences.

“While the Policy Committee set out a range of possible solutions to these issues, it was left within the judgment of SHHS to consider these issues and to decide on how they would like to deal with them,” reads the draft.

Possession is permitted in residences so long as its stored “in a private place, clearly labeled, and sealed so at not to cause any nuisance to other residents.”

Under the provincial Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA), it is illegal to smoke or vape cannabis in parks or designated community areas like swimming pools or skating rinks.


The draft would maintain a ban on marketing or selling tobacco, but will allow cannabis to be sold and promoted on campus. The sale of accessories like pipes and bongs will still be banned.

The committee recommends that UBC Vancouver align its policies with the City of Vancouver, which prohibits the sale of cannabis within 300 metres of schools, community centres, other cannabis retailers, and centres that serve vulnerable youth populations. As a result, the actual retail area where a dispensary could be established on campus is fairly restricted.

The CCLA and Cannabis Act do not set rules around smoking or vaping lounges, and it is unclear how they will be regulated.

Want to know if it passes? Ubyssey News will be live-tweeting the People, Community and International BoG Committee this Thursday from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m.