Search This Blog

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Cannabis & smoking

I have been made aware recently of several complaints about the smell of cannabis smoke along corridors in the Hall, or coming in through windows from rooms below or either side.
It is difficult to prove that smoke is from cannabis rather than tobacco, even if most of us can recognise the difference. Because cannabis is so strong-smelling and diffuses very widely, it can also be very difficult to pin down exactly which room the smell is coming from. I do not want to see a situation where members of staff walk along corridors knocking on everyone’s door until they find the culprit, as I feel this is unduly intrusive for everyone concerned.
In light of recent complaints, however, I should like to draw everyone’s attention to the following.
1. The Intercollegiate Halls of Residence Licence Agreement 2012-3 prohibits both smoking and the use of cannabis:
9.6 You must not use illegal drugs. 
9.7 All the halls operate a strict non-smoking policy which includes the interior of the accommodation and covers the balconies (where applicable) and the courtyard areas in some halls. Please check the individual hall handbooks for confirmation. For avoidance of doubt, smoking whilst leaning out of windows is not permitted.
2. The Connaught Hall Residents’ Handbook v. 4.0.4 includes this warning:
14.5.2 Drugs & discipline: Unauthorised possession and use of controlled drugs is illegal and is a serious disciplinary offence. Residents using or possessing illegal drugs in Hall, or allowing others to use or possess them in Hall, are liable to be dismissed without notice and may have the matter referred to their college or to the police. Any guests will be required to leave immediately. Anyone found to be supplying drugs in Hall will be reported immediately to the police and required to leave the Hall within 24 hours.
3. The Law: Cannabis is a Class B drug in the UK – it is illegal to possess cannabis or supply others – and you can still be arrested for possession.
The penalty for possession is up to five years in jail. Supplying someone else (which includes giving it away to friends) can get you fourteen years and an unlimited fine. 
If the Police catch you with cannabis, they’ll always take some action. This could be a warning, a reprimand, a formal caution, a fixed penalty or an arrest and possible conviction. A conviction for a drug-related offence could have a pretty serious impact. It can stop you visiting certain countries – for example the United States – and limit the types of jobs you can apply for.
4. The Residents’ Handbook warns against smoking in Hall (section 15.5):
Smoking damages paintwork, furniture, curtains, and carpets. If we find evidence of smoking in your room, an extra cleaning charge of £50 will be deducted from your damage deposit. 
Cigarette smoke can set off the smoke detector in your room. Anyone who causes a false alarm in this way will be interviewed by the Warden. If you smoke in your room and cover your smoke detector to avoid being caught, you will place yourself at risk of expulsion from the Hall.
5. Cannabis smoke has a much greater propensity to set off the fire alarm than does plain tobacco smoke.
6. Some health facts about cannabis from FRANK:
  • Cannabis can cause feelings of anxiety, suspicion, panic and paranoia.
  • Regular cannabis use is associated with an increase in the risk of later developing psychotic illnesses including schizophrenia.
  • Regular use makes it difficult to learn and concentrate; research has linked cannabis use to poor exam results. This is a potentially serious risk if you’re young, when the brain is still developing. People who take a lot of cannabis can also find they lack motivation.
  • Smoking cannabis can make asthma worse, can cause wheezing in people without asthma and can lead to lung cancer, coughs, chest infections, and heart disease.
  • Frequent use of cannabis may affect fertility.
7. I see drug use as a health & welfare matter, not purely a disciplinary issue. If you are concerned about your own or a friend’s drug use, either in Hall or elsewhere, please approach me in confidence. If you come to me genuinely seeking help, I will offer the confidential support you need in a non-judgmental way. If, on the other hand, we “catch” you using drugs, I will pursue a disciplinary route and push for your expulsion.
Given the sharp rise in complaints about this matter recently, we cannot allow things to continue as they are.
If you are smoking in Hall and/or using cannabis here, please STOP immediately.
The cleaners have been instructed to be vigilant for signs of smoking and cannabis use in every room, and to report all suspicions to me. The Senior Members, likewise, will monitor for signs of cannabis use on their daily duty rounds.
If you are in the great majority of residents who do not smoke or use cannabis in Hall, then I urge you to exert what peer pressure you can to discourage smoking on your corridor and by your friends, and to report to me if you know who is responsible.
As always, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns about this or any other matter.
Contact details of organisations that can help with information, advice, and treatment for drug and smoking-related problems
High quality information about health conditions both online and over the telephone
0845  4647
“Helps you to help yourself with health challenges”
The National Drugs Helpline
0800 77 66 00
Support, counselling and information about drugs
0808 1 606 606
NHS help to stop smoking
0800 022 4 332
Student volunteers offering telephone support
020 7631 0101
Support for people with mental health problems
0300 123 3393