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Join us in Ottawa this April to map out the next decade of drug policy reform in Canada

Recent decisions by the Canadian government concerning harm reduction, opioids, cannabis, and sentencing are signalling a new approach to managing illicit drug use in Canada.

Meanwhile, a new US administration promises to strengthen an already punitive narcotics regime with consequences for control efforts abroad as well as for cannabis policies in many US states.

This fast-changing landscape makes now the right time to bring together leading voices from across the country to look across the next decade and help identify new opportunities and directions for drug policies in Canada.

On April 4 - 5, 2017, join us as more than 120 researchers, policy-makers, public health officials, law enforcement professionals, drug users and community organizers meet in Ottawa to examine the future of Canada’s domestic and international drug policies.

Hear from more than a dozen speakers and participate in four discussion streams to help shape recommendations concerning:

• International control and management

• Decriminalization, regulation and harm reduction

• Integrating policing and public health

• Strategies for health and social equity



Dr. Jane Philpott, MP

Canadian Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott will deliver keynote remarks on the second day of Canada's Drug Futures Forum.

CONFERENCE moderators

Conference Admission

Government, ACADEMIC, industry, non-profits, associations, and professionals: $115 (SOLD OUT)
Subsidized ticket: Small community groups: $55 (SOLD OUT)

Tickets include morning and afternoon refreshments and lunch service on both days, and the April 4th evening keynote.

There are a very limited number of subsidized tickets intended for those with lived experience. Please strongly consider purchasing a regular ticket if you have the means.

April 4: 9am - 5pm & 7pm - 9pm     |   April 5: 9am - 4pm

Pay-What-You-Can tickets are also available on request for those facing financial hardship. Contact us at 1-844-534-9993 to find out more.


An evening with Dr. Carl Hart

Public keynote: April 4, 7pm - 9pm

Join renowned neuro-scientist Dr. Carl Hart as he makes his case upending harmful myths and embracing an evidence-based approach to drug policy. This will be followed by questions from Toronto Star Parliamentary reporter Tonda MacCharles.

Carl Hart is the Chair of the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. He has published numerous scientific and popular articles in the area of neuropsychopharmacology and is co-author of the textbook Drugs, Society and Human Behavior (with Charles Ksir). His most recent book, High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, was the 2014 winner of the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.

If you have purchased a Forum pass, you do not need to purchase a ticket for Dr. Carl Hart's Evening Keynote.

Conference Program: April 4-5,2017

Canada's Drug Futures Forum is a special two-day event designed to take the long view and map out an agenda for the next decade of drug policy reform in Canada.

Featuring more than twenty leading and new voices from across Canada, the Americas and Europe, the Forum is organized to address four themes.

Following scene-setting presentations, more than 120 forum participants — researchers, academics, policy-makers and community stakeholders — will work in a series of small, facilitated groups. Together, they will examine potential policy directions in close detail with the goal of reaching consensus on the path ahead.

Forum participants may also apply to host their own session on the morning of the second day — expanding the program and the range of issues the Forum will address.

Following the Forum, the organizing team will release a summary report, which they hope will provide valuable and lasting guidance to governments and their agencies in Canada.



1. International control and management

  • How do we intervene in drug markets constructively?
  • How do changes to drug policies influence cross-border levels of violence, addiction and overdose?
  • How can national policies respond to emerging threats from illicit substances trafficked into Canada?
  • Is there a path to harmonizing drug policies across all three North American countries?

1A: Optimizing supply-side drug market interventions

Dr. Rosalie PaculaDirector, Bing Center for Health Economics; Co-director, RAND Drug Policy Research Center; Senior Economist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Leo Beletsky, Associate
 Professor of Law and Health Sciences, School of Law and Bouvé School of Health Sciences, Faculty Scholar, Institute on Urban Health Research, Northeastern University
Stephen T. Easton
professor of Economics at Simon Fraser University

1B: Continental border control

Dr. Beau KilmerCo-director and Senior Policy Researcher at RAND Drug Policy Research Centre
Kasia Malinowska
Director, Global Drug Policy Program, Open Society Foundations
Richard Fadden
former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada

2. Integrating policing and public health

  • How can the skills of police and health professionals be better aligned to address community needs?
  • How can move beyond“diversion” and toward substantive services not rooted in the criminal justice system?
  • What lessons can drug courts teach us for developing new forms of partnerships?

2A: Inter-institutional collaborations between police and health professionals for first response

Senator Vernon White, Conservative Party of Canada
Chief Deputy Sheriff Jim Pugel,
King County Sheriff's Office in Seattle
Dr. Mark Tyndall,Executive Director BC Centre for Disease Control

2B: System-wide shifts in justice policy and practice, to reduce harms and improve treatment and public safety outcomes

Meredith PorterMember of the Social Security Tribunal - Appeals Division
Justice Mary Hogan, 
Ontario Court of Justice


4. Strategies for health and social equity

  • How can we reform the justice system to reduce persistent racial inequities in Canada?
  • How might Canadian programs and policies contribute to better health and social outcomes for women and Indigenous peoples (of all genders) who use drugs, their families and the broader community?


 4A: Undoing racialized harms of drug law enforcement

Dr. Akwasi Owusu-BempahAssistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto
Robyn Maynard, Community activist and writer  
Caitlyn Kasper, staff lawyer, Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto

 4B: Equity in harm reduction and treatment

Andy BondSenior Director of Housing and Program Operations with the PHS Community Services Society (PHS)
Lynn PaltrowExecutive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) 

3. Decriminalization and regulation

  • How do we determine appropriate models of control for different types of drugs in Canada based on global best practice?
  • What are the opportunities and challenges associated with drug regulation, and how can the latter be mitigated?
  • What concrete steps would need to be taken to explore the feasibility of regulation systems for currently illegal drugs in Canada?

 3A: Drug regulation: opportunities and challenges

Dr. Mark WareVice President - International, Development Services Group
Dr. Mark KleimanAffiliated Faculty, NYU Wagner; Professor of Public Service, NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management

 3B: Models of decriminalization: exploring global best practices

Manuel Cardoso, Deputy General-Director of the General Directorate
for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD)  

Ann FordhamExecutive Director at International Drug Policy Consortium

With plenary presentations from: 

  • Dr. Carl HartChair, Department of Psychology at Columbia University; Dirk Ziff Professor of Psychology (in Psychiatry) 
  • Jordan WestfallPresident, Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs
  • Don Davies MPNew Democratic Party
  • Mae Katt, Nurse Practitioner
  • The Honourable Jane PhilpottMinister of Health

Conference Organizers

COnference ADVISORS (continued)

Dr. Steven J. Hoffman, Global Strategy Lab, University of Ottawa

Dr. Lisa Kerr, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University

Donald MacPherson, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition

Donna May, mumsDU

Jillian Stirk, Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation

Dr. Mark Tyndall, BC Centre for Disease Control

Jordan Westfall, Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs

Adam Blackwell, former Secretary of Multi-Dimensional Security, Organization of American States

Megan Leslie, Board of Directors, Pierre elliott trudeau foundation

Peter McCaffrey, Director of Research, Manning Foundation

Richard Elliott, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

Dr. Frank Welsh, Canadian Public Health Association

Rebecca Jesseman, Canadian Centre ON Substance AbusE

Alexia Jaouich, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Nandini Saxena, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Sean LeBlanc, Drug Users Advocacy League Ottawa


Dr. Dan Werb, Chair

Jennifer Peirce

Ayden Scheim

Claudia Stoicescu

Meaghan Thumath


COnference staff

Peter macleod, moderator, MASS LBP

Adam Hasham, Coordinator, MASS LBP

Joanna Massie, Coordinator, MASS LBP

Jamie Forrest, Committee Assistant, UBC



Prof. Timothy Caulfield, Health Law Institute, University of Alberta

Dr. Jean Daudelin, Norman Paterson School of Public Affairs, Carleton University

Dr. Jocelyn Downie, Faculties of Law and Medicine, Dalhousie University

Elaine Feldman, Centre on Public Management and Policy, University of Ottawa



Venue Information

The Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards
7 Bayview Road, Ottawa



Hotel Information

2017 is a busy year in Ottawa. We recommend that you book your accommodation early.

A special rate has been secured at the Alt Hotel Ottawa, located at 185 Slater Street. Please contact them directly if you wish to make a reservation using the conference code "CDFF".