The Cannabis Act Submission To The Standing Committee On Public Health

The Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries issued its official response to the Standing Committee on Public Health regarding Bill C-45 also known as “the Cannabis Act”.

Transitioning Canada’s Cannabis Industry.Brief

While there are many issues to discuss with government regarding the Cannabis Act, CAMCD felt that the priority must be to ensure that storefront dispensaries are included in the new regulated regime to ensure no adverse impact to public health (continuity of access) and to the thousands of jobs currently maintained within the cannabis economy.  Without inclusion in the new regulated environment there CAMCD feels there is no point in addressing other subjects related to distribution.

Lobbying by special interest groups intended to discredit dispensary services and ban them from the future regulated cannabis distribution economy has been ongoing for some time now.  CAMCD hopes that submissions like these can help educate lawmakers and public policy groups and provide them with an evidence based approach to why existing dispensaries should have a place in the new regulatory framework.



testing bc marijuana camcd

Cannabis Dispensaries to Set Up Their Own Testing System

Blocked from the federal medical marijuana testing system, dispensaries are creating their own


VANCOUVER— The Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) is moving to set up testing standards and protocols to ensure the safety of the cannabis member dispensaries are selling.

Association President Jeremy Jacob says, “We believe consumers should be empowered to make educated choices about the cannabis products they buy, so we are moving to set up a rigorous, independent and transparent cannabis testing system.”

CAMCD promotes a regulated community-based approach to cannabis access with member dispensaries across Canada serving over 150,000 consumers.

Store front cannabis dispensaries are not allowed to test their product through federally licensed laboratories. Jacob says CAMCD is setting up its own testing standards after federally licensed medical marijuana producers recalled cannabis contaminated with the chemicals bifenazate and myclobutanil in November and December 2016, and were slow to inform the public.

“Dispensary clients need to know the product is free of contaminants. Consumers should be able to see testing results,” says Jacob. “Some of our member dispensaries are already testing their product privately, but we need a system where all are able to test their product, the labs are independent, and the consumer can rely on the results.”

The CAMCD board has created a working group with dispensary owners, cannabis producers, processors, and lab owners, to create guidelines and structure for the testing program. The board wants the system to be in place by May 2017.


Association President Jeremy Jacob will be available for questions today at 4:30 PST

Media Contact:
Jeremy Jacob (604) 317-5759

Study Shows Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Traffic Deaths

University of Colorado Denver

A groundbreaking new study shows that laws legalizing medical marijuana have resulted in a nearly nine percent drop in traffic deaths and a five percent reduction in beer sales.

“Our research suggests that the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities through reducing alcohol consumption by young adults,” said Daniel Rees, professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver who co-authored the study with D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University.

The researchers collected data from a variety of sources including the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

The study is the first to examine the relationship between the legalization of medical marijuana and traffic deaths.

“We were astounded by how little is known about the effects of legalizing medical marijuana,” Rees said. “We looked into traffic fatalities because there is good data, and the data allow us to test whether alcohol was a factor.”

Anderson noted that traffic deaths are significant from a policy standpoint.

“Traffic fatalities are an important outcome from a policy perspective because they represent the leading cause of death among Americans ages five to 34,” he said.

The economists analyzed traffic fatalities nationwide, including the 13 states that legalized medical marijuana between 1990 and 2009. In those states, they found evidence that alcohol consumption by 20- through 29-year-olds went down, resulting in fewer deaths on the road.

The economists noted that simulator studies conducted by previous researchers suggest that drivers under the influence of alcohol tend to underestimate how badly their skills are impaired. They drive faster and take more risks. In contrast, these studies show that drivers under the influence of marijuana tend to avoid risks. However, Rees and Anderson cautioned that legalization of medical marijuana may result in fewer traffic deaths because it’s typically used in private, while alcohol is often consumed at bars and restaurants.

“I think this is a very timely study given all the medical marijuana laws being passed or under consideration,” Anderson said. “These policies have not been research-based thus far and our research shows some of the social effects of these laws. Our results suggest a direct link between marijuana and alcohol consumption.”

The study also examined marijuana use in three states that legalized medical marijuana in the mid-2000s, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Marijuana use by adults increased after legalization in Montana and Rhode Island, but not in Vermont. There was no evidence that marijuana use by minors increased.

Opponents of medical marijuana believe that legalization leads to increased use of marijuana by minors.

According to Rees and Anderson, the majority of registered medical marijuana patients in Arizona and Colorado are male. In Arizona, 75 percent of registered patients are male; in Colorado, 68 percent are male. Many are under the age of 40. For instance, 48 percent of registered patients in Montana are under 40.

“Although we make no policy recommendations, it certainly appears as though medical marijuana laws are making our highways safer,” Rees said.

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Ottawa should clear the air over medical marijuana

Montreal Gazette

One of the witnesses heard during Ontario Superior Court hearings on rules governing the use of medical marijuana, a 55-year-old sufferer of multiple sclerosis, testified that when she asked her doctor to approve her application to use marijuana to relieve her chronic pain, the doctor put her hands over her ears and went, “La, la, la, la. I can’t hear you.”

This pretty well encapsulates the federal government’s response to chronic-pain sufferers and medical professionals who are clamouring for a clearer policy on medical marijuana.

The government proposes to remove Health Canada as the ultimate arbiter in approving or rejecting applications to possess marijuana for medical use, and instead leave it up to doctors to decide whether their patients should be licensed to do so. While this might appear to be a liberalization, it is widely being rejected by doctors, who rightly assert that a responsibility that should pertain to Health Canada is being off-loaded on them without appropriate research having been conducted on the medicinal properties of marijuana.

Marijuana was legalized for medical use a decade ago, but shortly after the Conservative government came to power in 2006 it abruptly terminated an accompanying medical-marijuana research program set up to clinically determine its safety and proper use. Such research would have allowed doctors to properly determine who should be prescribed marijuana and, as it were, weed out those who simply want to use it for recreational purposes.

As the president of the Canadian Medical Association has said, the proposed policy, in the absence of necessary research, would leave doctors with the responsibility of prescribing and monitoring an inadequately tested drug, thereby leaving themselves open to doing harm to patients and subject to legal action. As a result, many doctors are refusing to grant patients in chronic pain permission to legally use marijuana, even though the patients have determined through experimentation on their own that it alleviates their suffering.

At the same time, many people with a legitimate medical reason to use marijuana are resorting to black-market sources and are thus left liable to arrest and prosecution for possession of an illegal substance.

The government’s rationalization for its position is that clinical research on marijuana would best be undertaken by the private sector. But such research has been disdained by pharmaceutical companies because there is no money in it for them, since anyone can grow marijuana. The real reason, one suspects, is ideological, that the government is playing to the anti-drug constituency in the same spirit that it tried to shut down Vancouver’s InSite safe injection site for intravenous-drug addicts.

That misguided initiative was recently repelled by a Supreme Court of Canada ruling, after the federal government had appealed lower-court verdicts that were in InSite’s favour. Similarly, an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled this spring that the federal medical-marijuana program is unconstitutional because in its present form it denies adequate access to marijuana for people whose chronic pain it alleviates.

The federal government is appealing that ruling as well. In doing so it risks having existing criminal laws against marijuana possession and cultivation thrown out into the bargain – something the Ontario court ruling would have done had it not been appealed.

To forestall that, the government should immediately revive and fund the marijuana-research program in the interest of coming up with some solid scientific answers on the drug’s ability to alleviate pain. Doctors should not have to be the gatekeepers for the dispensation of an inadequately tested drug whose non-medical use is illegal.
© Copyright (c) Montreal Gazette

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Medical marijuana law changes under microscope

Current law pits doctors against patients and creates backlogs, critics say
By David McKie, CBC News

Health Canada began two days of closed-door talks Wednesday about changes to its controversial medical marijuana law that has faced legal challenges and criticism for being ineffective.

But even as meetings get underway in Ottawa, there are concerns Health Canada is on the wrong track with a law that asks doctors to ignore a sworn obligation to protect patients’ health, while forcing patients to go to great lengths to obtain a drug that many say eases their pain.

Health Canada will hear from representatives of provincial and territorial ministries, medical associations, police forces, municipalities and users of medical marijuana.

Under the “Marihuana Medical Access Program,” the obtaining of medical marijuana depends on doctors issuing an approval or “declaration” confirming that the cannabis will be smoked to ease pain, nausea or other symptoms associated with an illness.

But physicians have long resisted this so-called gatekeeper role, arguing that there is insufficient proof that medical marijuana actually works.

“Smoking something seems really counterintuitive when we have a vast array of evidence going back 50 or 60 years on the deleterious effects of tobacco smoke,” John Haggie, president of the Canadian Medical Association, told CBC News.

“A lot of these patients have chronic conditions. It’s not an acute problem. So you may be storing up untold problems for the future just simply by the way you’re giving the medication. And this absence of information is hindering the whole process.”

Paul Lewin, a lawyer who represented 22 patients in a case over access to medical marijuana, says he heard many stories from users frustrated with a system that puts all the power in the hands of doctors.

“It has been about six years that I’ve been fielding calls from sick people all over Canada, saying ‘I hear you’re bringing a case for people whose doctors won’t sign [declarations],'” he told CBC News.

“And I’m always starting out skeptical, like ‘What are you, some 18-year-old with a sore back?’ But no, [it’s stories like] ‘I’m 65 and I’ve never tried it before, but my daughter said it might help. And then I tried it for the first time and I couldn’t believe the relief I got.’

“The stories are tragic.”

Lewin won the case last spring that threw out a possession charge against an Ontario man, Matthew Mernagh, who testified he grew marijuana himself after his doctor wouldn’t sign an approval. The government is appealing, and the case will be heard in March 2012.

Yet Health Canada is proposing to continue making physicians the gatekeepers in an attempt to streamline the process for thousands of individuals who either have a licence to legally consume or buy marijuana to treat symptoms of their illness.

Although the department is recommending the creation of an expert advisory committee to “improve access to comprehensive and up-to-date information on the potential risks and benefits,” Haggie still has concerns that were expressed in a letter the CMA sent to the health minister in July.
More research needed: CMA

One of the four key issues raised by the CMA was the “the lack of appropriate efficacy and safety evidence” that the 2001 law says must be in place before a treatment is deemed to be safe.

Haggie says it was his association’s understanding that Health Canada would continue to conduct critical research into the efficacy of medical marijuana. But the Harper government eliminated funding for those studies when it assumed power in 2006.

In announcing the cuts to medical marijuana research, the government said it doesn’t believe it should tell researchers what to study.

Health Canada, in an emailed response to questions from CBC News, wouldn’t elaborate on why cuts were made to research considered vital to the viability of the law. But the department pointed to research it funded before 2006, and said it intends to rely on the expert committee to advise doctors on the latest research when the new law comes into effect within the next two years.

The promise of an advisory committee is doing little to ease the concerns of doctors.

In the Mernagh case, the judge concluded that “the vast majority of doctors in Canada are refusing to participate in [the medical marijuana] program.”

Citing the withdrawal of research funding, the judge added, doctors “are obliged by the ethics of their profession not to do anything to harm their patient, and therefore cannot knowingly approve the use of a product whose benefits and risks have not been verified by clinical studies.”

In its defence, the federal government argued the law wasn’t to blame because Health Canada’s only obligation is to permit access to the drug, not to market it or educate doctors.
Overwhelmed by applications

In addition to court challenges, Health Canada has also faced problems managing the program. In a 2010 internal briefing note CBC News obtained through Access to Information, there is a discussion of backlogs, in part due to the greater number of people who manage to find a consenting physician.

“While the program was originally intended to authorize access for a small number of persons, it was never anticipated that applications to produce [marijuana] in individual personal residences would number in the thousands. The number of authorized persons under the program has increased since 2005 from 805 to 5,183.”

In its emailed response to CBC News, the department says that as of Sept. 25, 2011, there are “12,264 individuals who hold a valid authorization to possess marihuana for medical purposes.”

But according to critics, that figure underestimates the real number of Canadians who may be using medical marijuana.

The judge in the Mernagh case concluded that the number of doctors signing demands is a “trickle” compared with the actual number of people who actually need treatment.

The judge also cited a study that concluded there are about 400,000 medical marijuana users in Canada, which he concluded was “most likely an underestimate.”

That number is hard to verify, as neither Health Canada nor the CMA tracks individuals who are unable to find a doctor willing to sign declaration forms.

If you have information about this issue you’d like to share you can reach David McKie at

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Canada needs a more realistic public health approach to cannabis, study finds

By: Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Canada’s existing public health approach to cannabis use is unrealistic and should be adjusted to reflect the way the system approaches alcohol, a new article suggested Thursday.

The piece, published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, concluded the high prevalence of marijuana use throughout the country requires public health practitioners to adjust their thinking around the substance.

Current attitudes towards cannabis use are too rigid to be effective in the current environment, co-author Benedikt Fischer said, adding more than 10 per cent of the adult population and about a third of young adults admit to using the drug in the past year.

Current practices advocating for total abstinence are unrealistic given the drug’s widespread popularity, and less tolerant than public health positions towards alcohol, tobacco and even injection drugs, he said.

Fischer said the system should instead adopt a more conciliatory position, urging people to modify their behaviours and reduce their personal health risks.

The “lower risk cannabis use guidelines” tabled in the article are modelled on the public health approach used to keep alcohol consumption in check over the years, said Fischer, research chair in applied public health at Simon Fraser University.

“I think alcohol is a really good model, and in fact the model I look to a lot,” Fischer said in a telephone interview from Vancouver.

“We’re accepting the fact that this is a drug that’s out there, that people embrace, that people actually enjoy. At the same time, absolutely not a benign drug, comes with a lot of acute and long-term problems that can be very hazardous and harmful to both individuals and society.

“However we have very targeted interventions, rather than the blunt hammer, black and white approach. We target these specific risks with the best interventions we have and try and reduce the very specific behaviours and outcomes rather than trying to reintroduce alcohol prohibition.”

Although abstinence from cannabis is still the safest approach, Fischer said users can take many steps to mitigate the drug’s harmful effects.

People who begin using marijuana later in life are less likely to encounter health problems, he said, adding early onset use can hamper brain development and expose youth to higher-risk situations involving more dangerous substances. Early use of cannabis has also been a predictor of mental health conditions such as depression, the article said.

Starting later in life, as well as limiting the frequency and intensity of cannabis use, can have significant long-term health benefits, Fischer said.

Users should also disregard a common myth that marijuana users are fit to drive while under the influence, he said, saying the substance impairs memory and motor functions.

The article said five per cent of adults admit to driving while under the influence of cannabis.

Fischer recommends waiting at least three to four hours after using cannabis to get behind the wheel of a vehicle, adding more time may be necessary depending on how much has been consumed.

Users wishing to limit cannabis-related harm may also want to change the way they ingest the drug, Fischer said, adding the common practice of smoking the substance has potential links to cancer risk and other respiratory ailments.

Eating or drinking cannabis products might negate some of those effects, the article said, adding vaporizers that heat the cannabis and release its active ingredients into the air may also prove to be a safer method of ingestion.

The lower risk guidelines have been enthusiastically received, earning official endorsement from the Canadian Public Health Association.

In an editorial accompanying the article, Patricia Erickson of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health described the approach as both “welcome” and “reasonable,” but said its ultimate effectiveness may be impeded by Canada’s legal system.

The fact that all cannabis-related activity — except specific medical use cases — is illegal in Canada will make it very difficult for the guidelines to be put into practice, she said.

“Public health tolerates limited degrees of personal choice, far removed from the forbidden status of cannabis and the lack of discrimination among various mild and serious consequences,” Erickson wrote.

“While the recognition that many young people consume alcohol before they reach the legal age may seem to warrant comparison with cannabis, and justify low-risk guidelines as a preventive measure for youth as well as adults, no threshold of acceptability in law is possible for cannabis.”

Alan Young, professor of law at York University, said the current political climate presents another barrier to changes in public health policy.

No public health questions can be addressed at the provincial level, where they usually reside, until the federal government decides to release control of the substance and either decriminalize it or regulate it, Young said. The Conservative government’s hardline crime policies make this unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future, he said.

The current climate stifles many potential benefits to public health, he said, adding medical marijuana use has the potential to ease the burden on the country’s health care system.

“It may be that cannabis is a valuable therapeutic product. Right now the criminalization of cannabis is preventing it from being fully explored,” he said. “If you do acquire a public health perspective, that should open the door to a much more informed approach to medical cannabis.”

Fischer said the most pressing demand for a modified public health approach to the drug comes from its rising popularity in society.

Cannabis’ less addictive properties have allowed it to escape the scrutiny lavished on alcohol and other harder drugs, which are in general more dangerous than marijuana, Fischer said.

Cannabis, however, is not benign, and the fact that it has gained traction as the nation’s most popular drug calls for a re-examination of the way it’s treated in the health system.

“This is what really necessitates and amplifies the need to embrace a public health approach,” Fischer said. “There’s a lot of harm to be prevented when you have somewhere in the neighbourhood of up to three million users in the country who are actively using this drug.”

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Cannabis ‘could ease pain of post-traumatic stress disorder’

By Claire Bates

Cannabis could help ease the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, scientists say – as long as it was administered early enough.

Researchers from Haifa University, in Israel, found that cannabinoids – the active compound in cannabis – blocked feelings of anxiety in rats after they experienced a stressful episode.

However, it was only effective if it was administered in the first 24 hours after the traumatic event.
Controversial: Cannabis could potentially help sufferers from post-traumatic stress disorder

Controversial: Cannabis could potentially help sufferers from post-traumatic stress disorder

‘We found that there is a ‘window of opportunity’ during which administering synthetic marijuana helps deal with symptoms simulating PTSD in rats,’ said study leader Dr Irit Akirav.

Rats were used because they have similar physiological reactions to traumatic and stressful events as humans.

Cannabis is a Class B drug in Britain and is illegal to use or sell. Regular use has been linked with an increased risk of developing psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia.

However, there are a handful of cannabinoid medicines derived from the cannabis plant that have been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in the UK.


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In the first part of the study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the researchers exposed a group of rats to extreme stress.

They observed that the rats displayed symptoms resembling PTSD in humans, such as an enhanced startle reflex and impaired learning.

The rats were then divided into four groups. One was given no cannabis at all; the second was given a cannabis injection two hours after being exposed to a traumatic event; the third group after 24 hours and the fourth group after 48 hours.

A week later, the researchers examined the rats and found that the group that had not been administered marijuana and the group that got the injection 48 hours after experiencing trauma continued to display PTSD symptoms as well as a high level of anxiety.

By contrast, the PTSD symptoms disappeared in the rats that were given cannabis two or 24 hours after experiencing trauma, even though these rats had also developed a high level of anxiety.

‘This indicates that the marijuana did not erase the experience of the trauma, but that it specifically prevented the development of post-trauma symptoms in the rat model,’ said Dr Akirav.

He added that because the human life span is significantly longer than that of rats, one could assume that the window of time when the drug would be effective would be longer for humans.

The second stage of the study sought to understand the brain mechanism that is put into operation during the administering of cannabis.

To do this, they repeated stage one of the experiment, but after the trauma they injected the synthetic cannabinoid directly into the amygdala area of the brain, the area known to be responsible for response to trauma.

The researchers found that the marijuana blocked development of PTSD symptoms in these cases as well.

From this the researchers were able to conclude that the effect of the marijuana is mediated by a CB1 receptor in the amygdala.

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Hospitals in Greater Manchester to treat patients with cannabis

Hospital doctors are to treat patients with cannabis in a world first for Greater Manchester.

Experts believe the drug can relieve pain by numbing muscles – and say it does not give users a ‘high’.

It is the first time the drug has been used in a hospital anywhere in the world

Patients at North Manchester General and Fairfield in Bury have been prescribed Sativex – a medication derived from marijuana plants. They will spray the medication under their tongue up to ten times a day.

People who are terminally ill with cancer will intiially take part in the trial but if successful, its use could be extended across the country and used as a painkiller for other conditions. Eight people have already been signed up, and 32 others will be recruited over the next two years.

The drug has been available on prescription in Britain as a treatment for Multiple Sclerosis since last summer – but it has not been used in hospitals before.

Sam Jole, senior research nurse at Pennine, the trust which runs North Manchester and Fairfield, has been involved in setting up the trials and identifying, recruiting and monitoring patients.

He said: “Research in palliative care, especially looking at new drug treatments is rare.

”The majority of cancer research is focused on curing disease. Palliative care is an under-researched medical speciality and the studies are genuinely ground-breaking. I’ve been a research nurse for years and have never come across anything like it.

“It is very important to point out that patients using the spray do not experience the euphoria associated with the illegal recreational use of cannabis. It has passed strict tests for quality, safety and efficacy and doctors are already prescribing it for Multiple Sclerosis patients.”

Patients involved in the study will visit either North Manchester or Fairfield General for check-ups four times over a five-week period.

They will also be required to to report their pain scores and usage of painkillers. Every evening over the phone.

Around half of them will be prescribed the active drug and the rest will receive a placebo.

The treatment was the world’s first cannabis medicine to win regulatory clearance when it was approved in Canada in 2005. It was approved for use in Britain last June.

The drug, created by GW Pharmaceuticals, is made from two cannabinoid substances found in the marijuana plant, THC and CBD. THC produces a high, but CBD counteracts it, and because Sativex is an oral spray, the drug is absorbed more slowly than if it was smoked so scientists say it is impossible to ‘get high’ from the treatment.

Dr Iain Lawrie, consultant and honorary clinical senior lecturer in palliative medicine at North Manchester General Hospital, said: “This study is an exciting development in the field of cancer pain management. Initial clinical observations suggest that Sativex will have an important role to play in this complex area of palliative care.”

MAPS Launches Canadian Affiliate, Celebrates 25 Years of Psychedelic Research and Education

This September, the nonprofit research and education organization Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) celebrates the launch of its new Canadian affiliate, MAPS Canada, with two historic benefit events in Victoria and Vancouver and. These events will spread awareness of and help raise funds for a new wave of research into the risks and benefits of psychedelic therapy in Canada.

Out of Mind: The Therapeutic Application of Psychedelics to Treat PTSD & Addiction will take place on Tuesday, September 13, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. at Alix Goolden Hall (907 Pandora Avenue, Victoria BC), and will feature talks from MAPS founder and Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D., and Dr. Gabor Maté, M.D., author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. Out of Mind will be hosted by MAPS Canada Board of Directors member and Victoria City Councillor Philippe Lucas, M.A.

Vanguard Science: Psychedelics in the 21st Century will take place on Wednesday, September 18, from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. at the Granville Island Stage (1585 Johnson Street, Vancouver, BC). This evening gala and benefit auction will include discussions led by former Vancouver mayor Philip Owen, ayahuasca researcher Kenneth Tupper, Ph.D., and MAPS Founder Rick Doblin, Ph.D. Vanguard Science includes a live auction with fine art, unique collectibles, travel packages, and more. British Columbia artist Autumn Skye Morrison will also do a live performance painting to be sold that evening.

Since 1986, MAPS has been committed to the systematic scientific evaluation of the risks and benefits of psychedelic substances as treatments for some of the most debilitating and hard-to-treat conditions. The organization also trains therapists to administer psychedelic drugs in therapeutic settings.

MAPS is currently planning or conducting research in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Israel, Jordan, Mexico, and New Zealand. The goal of these international collaborations is (1) to stimulate psychedelic research in new countries, enabling further mainstreaming of psychedelic medicine and allowing cross-cultural comparisons of research data; (2) to provide tax deductions for international donors; (3) to build a community of researchers and mobilize a fast-growing network of volunteers; and (4) to educate scientists, therapists, teachers, students, and policymakers worldwide about the risks and benefits of psychedelics and medical marijuana for therapeutic purposes.

Proceeds from both of these events will support MAPS Canada’s research on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD and ayahuasca treatment for addiction.

For more information about these events and MAPS Canada’s innovative research, please visit and