Riley Brandt, University of Calgary
Sept. 5, 2018
Post-Alcohol Support Space makes room for cannabis
UCalgary reopens PASS for fall, adding cannabis to its harm reduction goal
Starting this September, the Post Alcohol Support Space (PASS) is open again on Thursdays and for special events as a judgment-free, harm-reducing option for campus community members in need of a safe space to wait out the effects of alcohol. New this fall is an open door to people under the influence of cannabis or a mixture of cannabis and alcohol.
When the PASS first opened last January, individuals who had consumed other substances in addition to alcohol were excluded by the medical protocol, but Debbie Bruckner, senior director of Student Wellness, says upcoming legalization on Oct. 17 makes it essential for the University of Calgary to increase the scope of available supports to include cannabis.
“It’s been proven ineffective to attempt to stop people from drinking or using a legal substance like cannabis. What we’re doing is offering a trusted space for students when they feel unsafe after partaking in these activities,” Bruckner says.
Mixing cannabis and alcohol
The effects of alcohol in the body can be risky, but the combination of alcohol and cannabis can create a new storm altogether that can be weathered safely in PASS.
Linda Hastie, a nurse and manager at the SU Wellness Centre, says when cannabis is used in conjunction with alcohol, they can compound each other’s affects harshly and unpredictably.
“When alcohol intoxication is mixed with cannabis, even in edible form, it dangerously increases the risk of vomiting and aspirating, passing out somewhere unsafe, mood variability and motor impairment,” Hastie says.
“It’s important for people to know the PASS is there if they’re feeling out of control or unsafe — even if they’re just unsure how to get home.”
Learn more about cannabis and its legalization on the Government of Canada website.
PASS was initiated with input from Risk, Student Experience, Campus Security, Residence Services, SU Wellness and the Student Medical Response (SMR) team with one aim in mind: Reduce harm from intoxication on campus. The resources available, like a registered nurse and the student medical response team, means there is a judgment-free place to sober up — without fear of reprisal. The Student Medical Response team is an integral part of PASS because of their perfect blend of medical knowledge and student experience.
PASS is friendly, non-judgmental and consequence-free. Visits won’t be disclosed to professors or parents, or noted on any academic record. All visitors must be University of Calgary members, be mobile and arrive voluntarily. Visitors can stay the night, be discharged, sent to hospital or sent home with a responsible adult.
Located in Cascade Hall, you can access PASS for yourself or for a friend by calling 403-220-5333. You will be safely escorted to the space from any on-campus location. For urgent medical attention, please call 911.
Find out more about PASS.