Cannabis at SFU

October 17, 2018 marked cannabis legalization in Canada. Provincial legislation and municipal cannabis bylaws vary.

In BC, you must be 19 years or older to buy, use, possess, or grow non-medical cannabis. Legal cannabis has a BC specific excise stamp on the package and can only be purchased through a government operated store or online via BC Cannabis Stores

Generally, adults can smoke cannabis in public spaces where tobacco smoking is allowed however cannabis smoking is not permitted within 6 metres of a bus stop, at playgrounds, in public buildings or workplaces. Second-hand smoke can be harmful and irritating to people, especially children. The legislation poses particular challenges at SFU in this regard. Children and youth are present in all areas of campuses (first year students under 19, proximity to schools/urban centres, campus daycare and summer camps). 

SFU has a commitment to a “supportive and healthy work environment” as outlined in the strategic vision and recognizes the impact of cannabis legalization on the health and safety of SFU employees. Cannabis use comes with risks and restrictions on campus. Please see the following Frequently Asked Questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the risks of cannabis use?

Effects of cannabis impairment include dizziness, impaired memory, weakened motor skills and disorientation. People who use cannabis regularly can develop psychological and/or physical dependence. The risk of long term effects of cannabis are greater if you are under the age of 25.

2. What are the active components of cannabis?

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive component or cannabinoid and is most responsible for the “high” associated with cannabis use. Another cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD). Higher-strength or more powerful cannabis products (such as products with a high THC content) are worse for your health.

3. Where can I smoke cannabis on campus?

Cannabis smoking on Burnaby campus is temporarily permitted at two designated cannabis-specific outdoor smoking areas, separate from those in use for smoking tobacco. These locations can be found on the Designated Cannabis Smoking Locations Map. Vancouver and Surrey campuses do not have designated cannabis smoking locations as these campuses are located in urban centres dictated by municipal regulations.

4. Do I have a say in SFU policies that are impacted by cannabis legalization?

Yes, policy changes are in progress. The University Secretary put the proposed policy changes out to community consultation, ending January 25, 2019. Updated policies will then go to the SFU Board of Governors for approval.

5. Why is SFU permitting cannabis use on campus?

A harm reduction strategy based on education about risks is preferred rather than complete prohibition.

6. Are students permitted to be under the influence of cannabis in class?

No, each student is expected to abide by the Code of Academic Integrity and Good Behaviour.

7. Are employees permitted to be under the influence of cannabis while at work?

No, regulations prohibiting impairment in the workplace by alcohol, drugs, and other substances remain unchanged under WorkSafe BC's Occupational Health & Safety Regulations (Section 4.20) and the Workers Compensation Act (Section 116, 2d).

8. I’m a manager/supervisor, what rules apply to cannabis use in the workplace?

WorkSafe BC's Occupational Health & Safety Regulations (Section 4.20) and the Workers Compensation Act (Section 116, 2d) prohibit impairment by alcohol, drugs, and other substances in the workplace.

9. As a manager or supervisor, how can I tell if an employee is impaired?

The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) uses the following characteristics to describe signs of substance use as they relate to changes in an employee’s attendance, performance, or behaviour:

  • personality changes or erratic behaviour (e.g. increased interpersonal conflicts; overreaction to criticism)
  • appearance of impairment at work (e.g., odour of alcohol or drugs, glassy or red eyes, unsteady gait, slurring, poor coordination)
  • working in an unsafe manner or involvement in an incident
  • consistent lateness, absenteeism, or reduced productivity or quality of work

The CHRC recommends that you rely on observation, supervision and frequent face-to-face conversations as the more effective way to recognize when an employee is impaired. Also note, impairment in the workplace may be due to a wide range of reasons (ie. conflict at work, personal problems, temporary medical conditions

10. Is all non-medical cannabis from various stores or outlets legal?

No, legal cannabis has a BC specific excise stamp and can only be purchased through a government operated store or online via BC Cannabis Stores.

11. Can students or employees possess cannabis on campus?

Yes, as long as they are over 19, as the law states. 

12. What if people use cannabis at SFU and then want to drive a vehicle?

Drug impaired driving is against the law. See Government of Canada Don’t Drive High

Do you have an additional question that is not addressed here? Contact Rosie Dhaliwal, Specialist, Diversity and Inclusion and Education, Human Resources at or at 778 782 3752.