Island Health’s research program hosts two events to probe the health impacts of legalizing drugs

VICTORIA - Join Island Health as a panel of experts discusses the public health impact of criminalization on the stigma facing people who use substances, and the latest evidence pointing to the need for transformative thinking in order to solve the problem of illicit drug poisonings.

Also on the topic of legalizing drugs – cannabis will soon be legal in Canada. Come listen to experts as they discuss and debate the benefits, risks and scientific unknowns of cannabis use.

The two forums are part of Island Health’s “Five Days in May” – our annual series of events that aims to educate, inspire and stimulate the sharing of ideas on current research topics and questions.

Forum #1 Illicit Drug Poisoning: Is Decriminalization, Legalization and Regulation the Answer?

Facilitated by Island Health Scholar in Residence Dr. Bernie Pauly (RN, PhD), Associate Professor, School of Nursing, University of Victoria and Scientist, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR).

Panelists include:
• Dr. Bonnie Henry (MD, MPH, FRCPC), Provincial Health Officer
• Leslie McBain, Moms Stop the Harm
• Dr. Shannon McDonald, Acting Chief Medical Officer, First Nations Health Authority
• Donald McPherson, Director, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition

When: May 22, 2018 from 1:30 pm to 4 pm
Where: University of Victoria, Hickman Building Room 105 (Auditorium) 
For more information and to register please visit,

Forum #2 Cannabis Legalization: Medical Advice to Lower Risks or Blowing Smoke?

We know that cannabis will be a legal substance in Canada later this year. But what do we know now about the public health impact of legalizing cannabis, and where are the gaps that can be addressed by future research? Join Island Health and substance use experts to learn more as we cannabis becomes legal and will likely become more commonly used and/or misused for a variety of health reasons.

Speakers include:
• Dr. Richard S. Stanwick (MD, MSc, FRCP(C), FAAP), Chief Medical Health Officer, Island Health
• Karen Urbanoski, Canada Research Chair in Substance Use, Addictions and Health Services Research; Scientist, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research; Assistant Professor, School of Public Health and Social Policy, University of Victoria
• Dr. Brian P. Emerson, Medical Consultant, Population and Public Health Division, BC Ministry of Health
When:   May 22, 2018 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm
Where:  Begbie Hall at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, 2101 Richmond Road (Woodward Room) 
For more information and to register, please visit:

Media Inquiries:

Meribeth Burton
Media Relations