High hopes as AMS explores opening cannabis dispensary in the Nest

The AMS is pursuing opening a cannabis store in the Nest.

At a meeting on August 26, AMS executives discussed partnering with Canopy Growth, a cannabis producer, and creating a submission for the UBC Board of Governors.

“This is something the AMS has been considering for a while now,” said AMS President Cole Evans.

Evans said that UBC has been looking into its policies related to the sale of cannabis on campus, making this an opportune moment to explore a dispensary. AMS meeting minutes show that Evans and AMS VP Academic and University Affairs Georgia Yee spoke to Michael White, associate vice-president of UBC Campus and Community Planning.

Canopy Growth said in an emailed statement that it wasn’t in talks with UBC, but didn’t mention the AMS.

Plans are still preliminary, but Evans said that there seems to be a large population of students that are excited about it. The AMS has no data gauging student interest for a dispensary, but he cited a “positive reception” to AMS Student Services Manager Ian Stone’s promise to open a campus dispensary in his failed bid for AMS president last year.

“I think that we would be in a very good position … to deliver a service to students that isn’t just somewhere that people could access cannabis, but also serves as … more of a responsible service where we can simultaneously educate students around substance use.”

Evans acknowledged that some students are concerned about opening a cannabis store on campus, specifically about how the ease of access would affect the campus environment.

Evans said the AMS is focused on creating an inclusive space that works for everybody. The aim is to offer students who do use cannabis a safe and discreet way to obtain it, while providing an opportunity to learn about cannabis use.

“It would be a lot more community friendly than what I think some people might imagine a cannabis store to look like,” Evans said. “… If we’re able to walk people through what our concept is for a space like this, I think everybody would be pretty comfortable with what we’re looking at.”

It is now up to UBC to consider amending its policies around cannabis retail on campus. The AMS said it will keep the community up to date on the plan, which has the potential to unfold within the next year or two.

The most common approach universities took after Ottawa legalized cannabis in 2018 was to ban it outright — but UBC was one of the institutions that allowed its consumption on campus, albeit with restrictions.

UBC Campus and Community Planning said that cannabis use on campus is being discussed.

“As it stands, retail sale of cannabis is not permitted under campus land use regulations. However, the inquiry is being discussed and will be assessed in the weeks ahead,” said White in an emailed statement.