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Two sides of Canadian drug policy: 2018 AGM talk

1 Nov 2018
This article was published 6 years ago. Content may no longer be relevant.
Nov 23, 2018

2018 AGM - Featuring Professor Benedikt Fischer

Location: NZ Drug Foundation office, 4th floor, 265 Wakefield St, Wellington
Organiser: NZ Drug Foundation

Professor Benedikt Fischer speaking at an event. - Professor Benedikt Fischer.

Get an update on Canadian drug policy from Professor Benedikt Fischer, who recently commenced his tenure as the Hugh Green Foundation Chair in Addiction Research at the University of Auckland - hailing from Canada. Register now

On 17 October 2018, Canada became the first G7 country to legalise non-medical cannabis use and supply. While this was welcome news for most of Canada’s 3 million-plus cannabis users, Canada’s legalization initiative has been framed by public health and safety objectives and extensive regulations. Many questions remain regarding these parameters, and the overall impact of this landmark policy experiment.

Meanwhile, cannabis legalisation in Canada took place under the spectre of a catastrophic crisis of opioid misuse and overdose deaths. Some 4000 Canadians died in 2017 alone, and the upward trend is projected to continue. Multiple interventions have been introduced or expanded in efforts to stem the tide of fatalities – but with limited success.

These two sides of the Canadian experience with psychoactive drug control offer many lessons for New Zealand. Professor Benedikt Fischer has been involved in science, focusing on policy and interventions, for 25 years. He brings critical insights to the issues we are facing in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

At this AGM presentation, Professor Fischer will raise issues related to the following 

  • What have been the key lessons and experiences of Canadian drug 
  • What interventions have worked, and which are lacking to better reduce opioid deaths?
  • What are major opportunities and obstacles to public health-oriented drug policy?

The presentation and discussion will be preceded by a special unveiling to mark the launch of the Drug Foundation’s recently-updated strategic directions. Stay afterwards for a chat over afternoon tea.


1:30-3:15pm Friday 23 November. Afternoon tea from 2:45pm. 

RSVP essential. Numbers limited.

Register now

About Professor Benedikt Fischer

Professor Benedikt Fischer started his role as the inaugural Hugh Green Foundation Chair in Addiction Research in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences (FMHS), University of Auckland in late October 2018. He also holds appointments as Senior Scientist with the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) - Canada's largest mental health research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto – and as Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Previously, he held the Chair of Addiction Research in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, and directed the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.

Dr. Fischer’s research focuses on understanding the socio-behavioral determinants and social and health consequences of illicit and prescription drug use, as well as key co-morbidities (e.g., mental health, infectious diseases, pain). His work is framed by a public health perspective and strongly geared towards evidence-based interventions and policy development. Dr. Fischer regularly advises national and international governments on issues of evidence-based drug policy.

Read a recent opinion piece by Professor Fischer (from the The Globe and Mail, 12 October 2018): Our opioid death crisis urgently needs a prevention strategy.    

Register now





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