Growing Demand for Cannabis Legalization Across North America Expands Scope of National Summit

Registration now open for 2019 North American Cannabis Summit

Thirty states now have some combination of decriminalization, medical use, and recreational use of marijuana, with several more states likely to put the issue to vote this year. In Canada, support from approximately two-thirds of the population prompted the introduction of Bill C-45 to legalize cannabis nationwide. On June 7, the Canadian Senate voted in favor of the legislation, adding amendments for the House of Commons to consider. In Mexico, possession of up to five grams of marijuana for “personal use” was decriminalized nearly a decade ago. More recently, in both 2015 and 2018, its Supreme Court ruled in favor of plaintiffs seeking to grow, transport, and use cannabis for personal reasons.

“The 2019 summit will be a neutral space where we can address public health, science, and health equity in this time of expanding cannabis decriminalization, medical use, and legalization of recreational use,” notes Neal Shifman, president and CEO for Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. (AHP), one of the organizations hosting the conference. “The 2017 National Cannabis Summit in Colorado initiated cross-state discussion of policy, regulatory, and governance issues. Our upcoming summit will continue and broaden that conversation to encompass the experiences of not only U.S. state and local governments, but those of Canada and Mexico as well.”

AHP has partnered with the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP); the California Department of Public Health; the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Integrated Substance Abuse Programs; and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction to plan the 2019 North American Cannabis Summit.

The planning partners recognize that key elements of the original summit, which attracted an audience of 500, are essential to meeting the needs of the 1,000 participants expected in 2019. Linda Frazier, director of AHP’s Addictions Initiatives and project director of both the 2017 and 2019 summits, says, “We bring together the ‘best of the best’ minds for frank discussion on the state of the science of cannabis, best practices, policy and regulation, lessons learned, and research needs. This occurs in formal plenary sessions, in breakout sessions, and importantly, in networking—all of which are free of ties to the cannabis industry.”

State and federal public health officials; state and municipal leaders managing prevention, public safety, and regulatory implementation; congressional representatives; researchers; academics; and medical experts are invited to attend to participate in discussions on the scientific, clinical, and political shifting landscape surrounding legislation of medical and recreational marijuana across North America.

As the first state in the union to legalize the medical use of marijuana, California has long been at the forefront of this policy change. This is reflected in TRDRP’s increasing support of cannabis research, particularly as it relates to tobacco use and tobacco-related disease. Phillip Gardiner, UC Smoke & Tobacco Free Fellowships Program Officer at TRDRP, comments, “For years, our research and education efforts have facilitated collaboration on tobacco control within California. Now, we are excited to explore the added dimension of cannabis use with our counterparts across North America. This is a dynamic process and, as a state, we are thrilled to host the 2019 North American Cannabis Summit.”

The proceedings from the 2017 National Cannabis Summit are available. An early-bird registration fee is available to anyone who registers for the 2019 North American Cannabis Summit by August 31, 2018. To register or for more information, go to

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About Advocates for Human Potential, Inc.

For over 30 years, AHP has focused its people, passion, and expertise on creating practical solutions to improve health and human services systems of care and business operations. Every day, AHP works to develop real-world solutions for systems change through its areas of expertise, which include substance use disorders, mental health, and behavioral health policy.

About the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)

With the legalization of commercial cannabis activity in California, CDPH has four roles: regulating the manufacture of cannabis containing products, issuing medical marijuana identification cards, preventing secondhand smoke exposure from all smoking products including cannabis, and creating an initial public education campaign. To learn more, visit

About the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) is Canada’s only agency with a legislated national mandate to reduce the harms of alcohol and other drugs on Canadians. A trusted counsel, CCSA provides national guidance to decision makers by harnessing the power of research, curating knowledge, and bringing together diverse perspectives. CCSA’s strategic core functions include providing national leadership, building strategic partnerships, advancing research, and mobilizing knowledge. To learn more, visit 

About the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program

TRDRP funds research that enhances understanding of tobacco use, prevention and cessation; the social, economic, and policy-related aspects of tobacco use; and tobacco-related diseases in California. In 2018, TRDRP expanded its scope to fund research related to the impacts of cannabis use on tobacco-related disease. TRDRP is administered by the Research Grants Program Office at the University of California, Office of the President. TRDRP revenue is used to make grants for California scientists and community researchers to find better ways to prevent and reduce tobacco use and its related diseases. To learn more, visit

About UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs

UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (ISAP) conduct research, provide research and clinical training, and arrange treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs) in coordination with the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and in affiliation with community-based treatment providers. ISAP efforts range from clinical trials of innovative behavioral therapies and pharmacotherapies to epidemiological studies. To learn more, visit



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