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Safer cannabis use

Learn more about lower-risk guidelines for cannabis consumption on campus, and laws and by-laws that could impact you.

Interested in harm reduction training? Check out Safer Substance Use: Harm Reduction

Using cannabis

If you choose to consume cannabis, there are ways to do it as safely as possible. This page contains lower-risk guidelines for cannabis consumption and information about laws and by-laws that could impact you.

In Alberta:

  • Anyone 18+ can purchase from a licensed retailer
  • You can buy or carry up to 30 grams (1.05 ounces) at a time
  • Driving high is illegal and cannabis should be transported out of reach of anyone in a vehicle
  • Four plants can be grown per household
  • Edibles aren’t legal to sell
  • Landlord/tenant agreements or condo bylaws may restrict cannabis consumption in rental units

In Calgary:

  • Recreational use of cannabis isn’t allowed in any public space, in vehicles or at cannabis retail outlets

  • Medically authorized cannabis can be used in areas included in smoking and vaping bylaws
  • Cannabis consumption is allowed on your private property

On Campus:

  • Recreational cannabis use isn’t allowed on campus – including residence, vehicles or facilities
  • Medically authorized cannabis can be used in designated smoking areas
  • If you have cannabis or cannabis accessories on campus, ensure they are stowed in sealed, scent-proof containers
  • Growing, selling and advertising cannabis isn’t allowed on campus

Read up on the UCalgary Cannabis Policy

Look for lower-risk products 

Cannabis products with higher THC are more likely to result in harm, while CBD can counteract some of THC’s adverse effects. Choosing products with a higher CBD to THC ratio reduces some risks.

Let the smoke out 

Avoid “deep inhalation” or “breath-holding.” While these practices are meant to increase psychoactive experiences, they also increase the amount of toxic material absorbed by your body.

Choose natural products 

Compared to natural cannabis products, synthetic products can lead to severe health problems, and have resulted in deaths.

Occasional use is best 

Daily cannabis use is linked to higher risk of health and social problems. Limit yourself to occasional use, like weekends or one day per week.

Wait a while before driving 

Cannabis use causes impairment and increases your risk of being involved in an accident. Wait at least six hours after using before driving.

When to avoid using 

If you or an immediate family member has a history of psychosis or substance use issues, you may have an increased risk of cannabis-related mental health concerns. Avoid using cannabis when pregnant.

Source: 2017 Canada’s Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

If you’re planning to consume cannabis, here’s some information about what you can expect. If you’re thinking about working, studying or driving, keep in mind functional impairment can last for 24 hours or longer after the duration of the initial high.


There’s a variety of cannabis strains, concentrations and potency that can be smoked in joint form or using a pipe, bong or other accessories. 

OnsetWithin seconds 

Duration of highone to three hours


The cannabis is heated at a lower temperature than burning, and the vapour is inhaled. Vaping creates less odour and smoke than smoking and potentially less toxins. 

OnsetWithin seconds 

Duration of highone to three hours


Cannabis butter or oil is used as an ingredient in a variety of baked goods, beverages or candy. The effects last longer, and it can be hard to determine potency. 

Onset: Up to 90 minutes 

Duration of high: four to six hours


Tinctures are usually made by dissolving cannabis in alcohol. Specific concentrations are made and taken under the tongue. 

Onset20-30 minutes 

Duration of highSeveral hours


Dabs are chemically concentrated products with high levels of THC. These can have stronger effects and more risks than other consumption methods. 

OnsetWithin seconds 

Duration of highone to three hours

Source: 2018 Be Well: Safer Cannabis Use. University of Saskatchewan.

How often are UCalgary students using cannabis? 

  • 69.7 per cent reported no cannabis use in the past six months 
  • 17.3 per cent used cannabis monthly or less 
  • 5.8 per cent used two to four times a month 
  • 3.5 per cent used two to three times a week 
  • 3.7 per cent used four or more times a week

 Source: 2018 UCalgary Campus Experience with Cannabis Survey.

Cannabis FAQs

Some commonly asked questions about cannabis use at UCalgary

Many faculties enforce distinct rules around drug and alcohol use which must be followed. Where there is no such guidance, it’s up to individual students to make decisions that will maximize the value of their learning experience at the university and offer appropriate respect and attention to their instructors and classmates. Students’ behavior may attract consequences under the Student Non-Academic Misconduct Policy

No. The Cannabis Policy is clear that academic staff members, employees, appointees, and postdoctoral scholars may not be impaired while at work because of the use or after effects of cannabis.

Campus Security will approach cannabis use on campus with the aim of helping individuals manage their own consumption in a way that complies with the Cannabis Policy. While the approach will invite open communication, those who actively refuse to comply with the policy could face consequences. 

In cases involving students, the Student Non-Academic Misconduct Policy will govern responses to violations of the Cannabis Policy.

Employees who do not comply with the Cannabis Policy may be subject to discipline, up to and including termination of employment in accordance with any applicable collective agreement.

Visitors (including volunteers and contractors) who violate the Cannabis Policy may be asked to leave campus.

In addition, municipal bylaw officers can fine individuals up to $100 for breach of the municipal bylaw.

Yes. People using cannabis for medical reasons must carry proof of their authorization and adhere to the university’s Smoking Policy and all Provincial Regulations and City of Calgary bylaws related to smoking and vaping. Some people have particular sensitivities to the smell of cannabis and there are members of particularly vulnerable populations on campus. Cannabis use must not interfere with those people’s access to, and enjoyment of, our campus.

Cannabis plants may not be grown on campus or in/on university facilities with the exception of cannabis grown in laboratories for teaching and research purposes.

No. Despite the fact that cannabis is legal and regulated in Canada, it is illegal to transport cannabis across Canada's national borders. Learn more about cannabis and the border.

Generally, students do not need to disclose their medically authorized use of cannabis.

If using medically authorised cannabis will interfere with a Student’s ability to access the university it may be necessary to disclose the medical authorisation as part of making arrangements to remove barriers to access. Please visit the Student Accommodation Policy and the Procedure for Accommodation for Students with Disabilities for more information on that process.

For an even deeper dive on Cannabis, check out:

Reduce your risk

Do you have questions about lower-risk use of cannabis, or want help cutting back? There’s support here on campus:

Student Wellness Services

Medical, mental health and substance use support services are available to all UCalgary students through Student Wellness Services.
Main Reception: 403-210-9355

You can also contact the Harm Reduction Support Advisor, Yasmeen Nosshi:

Staff Wellness

Health and wellness support is available for faculty, post-doctoral scholars and staff from Staff Wellness
Phone: 403-220-2918 

You can also speak with someone at the Homewood Health Employee Family Assistance Program

Cannabis and mental health

How does cannabis work on the brain? Will legalization trigger an epidemic? Dr. Matt Hill, PhD, Assistant Professor, Hotchkiss Brain Institute and a member of the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education clears the smoke about cannabis.


Amplifying youth voices

Is there a better approach than lecturing young people about cannabis use? Dr. Rebecca Haines-Saah, PhD, Assistant Professor at UCalgary’s Department of Community Health Sciences and member of the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, clears the smoke.

Cannabis legalization and gateway drugs

What is the difference between legalization and decriminalization? Is cannabis a gateway drug? Dr. Fiona Clement PhD, Director of the Health Technology Assessment Unit, O’Brien Institute for Public Health, clears the smoke about cannabis.

Therapeutic use and mental health risks

When it comes to youth consumption of cannabis, therapeutic use can sometimes be at odds with mental health. Dr. Chris Wilkes, MD, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, clears the smoke about cannabis.