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GPRC bans all smoking on campus

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The smell of marijuana shouldn’t be wafting over Grande Prairie Regional College once the drug is legalized. The school has decided to ban all smoking of cannabis on its campuses, as well as tobacco.

The smoke free policy was put in place Friday, just a few days ahead of Canada’s October 17th marijuana legalization date. GPRC President and CEO Don Gnatiuk says administration wanted to take its time with it.

“We’ve been trying to understand the implications to GPRC. We’ve been keeping our eyes on what other institutions are doing across Canada, and we also have to keep an eye on the municipalities within which GPRC functions for making our decisions.”

Several universities in Alberta have chosen to ban cannabis consumption on campus, while others are opting to create pot-friendly zones. A recent report by the Canadian Cancer Society also found 65 university and college campuses across the country are 100 per cent smoke-free. Gnatiuk says the local college’s decision is meant to keep people safe on campus.

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“The feedback we received inside and the leadership we’ve received from other institutions suggests that the elimination of smoking on campus is the right thing to do to create a safe environment for staff, students, and we also have many children who come on site as well.”

The Alberta Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act currently prohibits smoking in a public place, workplace or public vehicle. People also can’t smoke within five metres of a doorway, a window that opens or an air intake.

Smoking or vaping is also not allowed in GPRC’s on-campus housing, although there are currently designated areas for smoking outdoors. Those will also be phased out as part of the new policy. Gnatiuk says accommodations will be made for medical cannabis users, with approval from the college.

“We’re thinking through accommodations there may be alternatives for them other than smoking, but we’re going to let that play out to see what that really means for us. We don’t fully understand that.”

At the same time, the ban does not cover the possession of cannabis. The policy mandates that any marijuana and smoking devices like bongs, pipes, and vaporizers be kept in sealed, scent-proof containers.

“That’s a whole different issue, and at this point we’re not ready to make any decisions relative to that,” explains Gnatiuk.

The college’s new policy isn’t set in stone. Gnatiuk says administration plans to accept feedback internally and through the Students’ Association and reassess in a month’s time.

A new “Fit To Work Fit To Learn” policy has also been created for employees and students. It outlines that people shouldn’t be under the influence of any legal or illegal drug in a way that could prevent others from learning or be a safety risk.

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