The Executive Board makes sure the organization is meeting its goals and deadlines, that finances and record-keeping are in order, and that subcommittees are working well together. The executives head the national team and focus on strategy, support, and creating opportunities for the rest of the board and chapter members to get involved in sensible drug policy events and campaigns.
Kira is currently pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at the University of Montréal. Her research focuses on the bi-directional effects of cannabis and mental health issues in adolescence, with a focus on sexual and gender minorities. Kira is also passionate about drug policy, social justice, health, and education.
Kira poursuit présentement une maîtrise en psychologie à l’Université de Montréal. Sa recherche est centrée sur les effects bidirectionnels du cannabis et des symptômes de psychopathologie à l’adolescence, avec une attention particulière portée aux minorités d’orientations sexuelles et aux minoritiés de genre. Kira est aussi passionnée des politiques en substances illicites, de la justice sociale, de la santée, et de l’éducation.
Michelle Thiessen, M.A., is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar. She researches the association between medical and non-medical cannabis use and mental health, and she is currently the study coordinator for a CIHR-funded study assessing the psychosocial impact of cannabis legalization on young adults aged 18-25.
Co-Secretary & Outreach Chair
Avery received his B.Sc. (honours) in Psychology from the University of British Columbia Okanagan. His research examined the effects of cannabis on attention and ADHD. Currently, he is a community support worker and works with CSSDP Okanagan, where he was the Vice President. Avery has his eyes set on a future in clinical psychology with a research program surrounding cannabis and psychedelics and aims to start his master’s soon.
Stephanie is a doctoral candidate in population and public health at the University of British Columbia, where she is currently undertaking research to better understand the links between cannabis, opioids, and drug-related morbidity.
Board of Directors
The CSSDP board members work together in our fundraising, outreach, and political advocacy campaigns to support our chapters across Canada, develop events across Canada, and reach our local, national, and international goals. The national team works hard to connect with chapter members across Canada, spread harm reduction, and achieve drug policy reform.
Alex Betsos is a research master’s social sciences student at the University of Amsterdam. Alex has a joint honours degree in sociology and anthropology from Simon Fraser University. His research interests relate to the creation, contestation, and dissemination of drug knowledge by experts and by people who use drugs.
An Algonquin College business student focused on entrepreneurship and innovation, Heather is fascinated by corporate social responsibility within the cannabis industry, with a passion for the relationship between food, health, and sustainabbility. Heather is also an advocate for drug policy based on human rights and public health.
Alex Collins is a Research Associate with the BC Centre on Substance Use, a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU), and a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar. Her research explores the impact of housing instability and experiences of overdose among women who use drugs within the context of overlapping housing and overdose crises in Vancouver, Canada.
Shannon is currently an undergraduate student from the University of British Columbia Okanagan, completing her B.Sc. (honours) in Psychology. Her research interests include the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, MDMA, and cannabis. Shannon plans on pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology post graduation.
Scott is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Site Publishing. He works for science and human rights, especially women’s rights, Indigenous rights, labor rights, and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world, and the advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. Email: Scott.D.Jacobsen@gmail.com.
Sarah completed her B.A. (honours) in Psychology at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan (UBCO) campus in 2017. Her honours thesis examined the efficacy of Yoga Nidra in decreasing problematic substance use in young adults. She is currently working towards her master’s in clinical psychology. Her current primary research interests include the use of cannabis in yoga, cannabis and mindfulness, and prenatal cannabis use. She is active on campus with the Okanagan chapter of CSSDP, as well as president of the UBCO Yoga Club.
Simona is a second year journalism student, with a passion for writing and telling stories. She is especially interested in drug policy and education reform in Canada. Her writing interests include drug policy and the intersection with class, race, gender, sexual orientation, and health. She believes that radical compassion, harm reduction education, and policy reform are practical solutions to the national opioid crisis, as well as cannabis disinformation campaigns in the wake of Canadian cannabis legalization.
Olivia Delair is a psychology and music student at Carleton University. She is mainly interested in harm reduction and policy work in the community. She currently sits on the NDP Federal Executive as their Indigenous representative, and serves as a Communications Officer at the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association.
The CSSDP Board of Directors relies on our mentors and advisors to help strategically brainstorm, plan, and execute essential functions for the organization as a whole. Our advisors provide insight, help and support to the CSSDP national team, as well as individual chapters across Canada. Their invaluable advice and experience is integral to how CSSDP functions on a local, national, and international level, and they help the national team make and reach our collective goals.
Jenna Valleriani, PhD
Jenna is a postdoctoral fellow at the BC Centre on Substance Use on the Qualitative and Community-Based Research Team. Jenna is interested in cannabis and drug policy, focusing on a variety of topics such as instrumental uses of cannabis and community-based access programs. Her past research experience has drawn on extensive qualitative interviewing and ethnographic fieldwork. For her dissertation, she investigated the evolving regulatory approach to medical cannabis in relation to social movements, focusing on delineating the roles of key actors in the emergeing industry.
Dessy Pavlova has been studying drug policy and the cannabis industry for over a decade. As a marketing strategist, she has worked with a number of medical cannabis companies through the various changes in regulations from Health Canada’s original Medical Marijuana Access Regulations (MMAR) to the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). Currently, Dessy is also an instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University where she teaches a course focused on marketing, sales, and drug development related to cannabis.
Nazlee is the Knowledge Translation Manager at the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP). Her enthusiasm for drug policy reform has led her to advocate at the grassroots, national, and international levels. Her focus is on illicit drug policy reform, with an emphasis on the UN Drug Conventions and the international drug control regime. She worked specifically on these issues while interning at International Drug Policy Consortium and Harm Reduction Coalition. Nazlee is also a volunteer at TRIP! Project, a nightlife harm reduction program in Toronto. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University and a Master of Global Affairs from the University of Toronto.
Rebecca Haines-Saah, PhD
Dr. Rebecca Haines-Saah is a Health Sociologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health. Her research focuses on adolescent mental health and substance use and the lived experiences of people who use drugs. Since joining the University of Calgary Faculty in early 2016, she has emerged as a leading voice on youth cannabis use and the public health policy implications of cannabis legalization in Canada. Rebecca appears frequently in the media and as an invited speaker on cannabis topics including youth prevention and education, and the potential for inequities and ‘unintended consequences’ of cannabis legalization and regulatory policies.
Donald MacPherson is the Executive Director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and one of Canada’s leading figures in drug policy. He advocates for policies based on principles of public health, human rights, social inclusion, and scientific evidence, and moving away from a criminal justice paradigm where people with health problems are criminalized.
MacPherson worked for the City of Vancouver for 22 years, as Director of the Carnegie Community Centre and then as Drug Policy Coordinator. In 2000 he published Vancouver’s groundbreaking Four Pillars Drug Strategy that precipitated a broad public discussion on issues related to addiction. MacPherson is involved at local, national and international levels and is a founding member of the Drug Policy Coalition.