Speaker Highlights

Mike Harcourt

Former Premier of British ColumbiaMike_Harcourt

Mike Harcourt served as Premier of British Columbia 1991 to 1996. Prior to that he was mayor of Vancouver. Harcourt helped the province earn its reputation as one of the most liveable places in the world. After stepping down from politics, he was appointed by the Prime Minister to serve as a member of the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy. There, Harcourt served on the Executive Committee and Chaired the Urban Sustainability Program. He was also a federally appointed BC Treaty Commissioner and was Chair of the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee for Cities and Communities, mandated to examine the future of Canada’s cities and communities. Harcourt is the lead faculty of United Way's Public Policy Institute, Chair of AGE-WELL board, a national NGO focused on improving the quality of life for aging Canadians, as well as chairman of the board of True Leaf Medicine International. He is also on the Advisory Board of Canada’s ECOFISCAL Commission.  He is Chair of QUEST (Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow), to help create sustainable cities and communities with smart energy plans. His career as lawyer, community activist and politician has been honoured with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, Canadian Urban institute’s Jane Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award and the Order of Canada. 

André Picard

Andre Picard

Award-Winning National Health Writer
The Globe and Mail

André Picard is one of Canada’s top health and public policy observers and commentators. He is the health columnist at The Globe and Mail, where he has been a staff writer for more than 30 years. He is the author of five books, including Matters of Life and Death: Public Health Issues in Canada, and The Path to Health Care Reform: Policies and Politics. In 2010, he was awarded a National Newspaper Award as Canada’s top newspaper columnist.

Dr. Julio Montaner

Julio MontanerKillam Professor of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia
Director, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

Dr. Montaner is a Killam Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC. He also holds the endowed Chair in AIDS Research. He is the Director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and a Past-President of the International AIDS Society. From 2014-2017, he was the UNAIDS Global Advisor on HIV Therapeutics.  He played a key role in establishing the efficacy of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) and since then has established the role of ‘Treatment as Prevention’ using HAART to simultaneously decrease progression to AIDS and death, as well as HIV transmission. He has authored more than 750 scientific publications on HIV/AIDS. He has received the Prix Galien Award, the Order of BC as well as the Albert Einstein World of Science Award.  In 2012, he was the recipient of the Grand Decoration of Honour for Services to Austria, the Hope is a Vaccine Award from the Global Alliance to Immunize against AIDS, and The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to the field of HIV/AIDS.

Cheyenne Johnson, MPH, RN, CCRP

Cheyenne JohnsonDirector of Clinical Activities and Development
BC Centre on Substance Use

Cheyenne Johnson, MPH, RN, CCRP, is the Director of Clinical Activities and Development with the BC Centre on Substance Use and the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse. Cheyenne is also the Director of the BC Center on Substance Use Addiction Nursing Fellowship. In her current position she oversees the development of provincial clinical care guidance documents and dissemination, including evidence-based clinical guidelines, practice support tools and policy briefs. She is also actively involved the BCCSU’s interdisciplinary program of research related to substance use, bringing to bear her substantial experience in clinical trial operations (she is also a Certified Clinical Research Professional with experience in more than 20 addiction medicine, HIV/AIDS, dermatology, and ophthalmology clinical trials) as well as her background in health professions education, coordination and integration of care, and knowledge translation. Cheyenne completed her Bachelor of Nursing Science at Queen’s University and her Masters of Public Health at Simon Fraser University. She joined the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in 2013 as a Clinical Research Nurse, where she went on to be the Inaugural Nursing Fellow of Canada’s only addiction nursing training program, the St. Paul’s Goldcorp Addiction Nursing Fellowship.

Ivan Ross Vrána

Ivan Ross VranaVice President – Public Affairs 
Hill & Knowlton

Ivan Ross is widely recognized as an industry expert in the field of medical cannabis and the emerging regime of legalized cannabis. His experience in this sector dates back to his time with Health Canada when he helped develop the Government of Canada’s position regarding the use, production, distribution and regulation of cannabis for medical purposes. Since that time he has offered clients counsel and support in investor relations, communications, regulatory review, strategic partnerships, identification and outreach related to market opportunities in other countries such as the United States and Australia and government affairs work at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Ivan Ross has also written several articles regarding the cannabis industry and has been a guest speaker at conferences in Canada and the United States.

Dr. Scott MacDonald

Scott_MacDonaldPhysician Lead
Providence Crosstown Clinic

Dr. MacDonald is the physician lead at the Providence Crosstown Clinic, which was the site of the NAOMI and SALOME studies. He continues to supervise injectable opioid agonist therapies (iOAT) at the clinic. Dr. MacDonald and his team were the first physicians in the world to prescribe hydromorphone for the treatment of severe opioid use disorder. Crosstown is still the only clinic in North America to provide injectable diacetylmorphine (prescription heroin). Dr. MacDonald graduated from Dalhousie University’s Medical School in 1992. During his career, he has worked as a primary care physician at various sites, including Canadian Forces Base Halifax and in rural settings in northern Manitoba and Nunavut. His focus in Vancouver has been HIV/AIDS and substance use.

Rick Garza

Rick_GarzaAgency Director
Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board

Rick is the Agency Director of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB). He has been with the Liquor and Cannabis Board since 1997. During Rick’s career with LCB, he has also held the positions of Legislative and Tribal Liaison, Policy Director and Deputy Director. Prior to joining the Liquor Control Board, Rick served 13 years as a staff member for the Washington State Legislature, including five years with the Washington State Senate and eight years with the state House. His legislative assignments included Policy Analyst in the state Senate, House of Representatives Staff Director, and adviser to House and Senate leadership. Rick is a past President of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA) and presided during 2012-13.

Dr. Larry Wolk

Executive Director and Chief Medical OfficerLarry_Wolk
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Since joining the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in September 2013, his mission has been to simplify the health system for the citizens of Colorado and to position the department as the leader in providing evidence-based health and environmental information. In his position, he works to address the myriad of issues surrounding medical and retail marijuana. Dr. Wolk has served as chief executive officer of Colorado’s nonprofit health information exchange and was an executive with Correctional Healthcare Companies, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Colorado, Prudential Healthcare of Colorado and CIGNA Healthcare. In 1996, he founded the Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics, one of Colorado’s largest safety-net clinics and a national model for providing care to the uninsured, where he continues to practice medicine. Dr. Wolk has received many honors, including Colorado Pediatrician of the Year, Denver Business Journal Healthcare Executive of the Year and the 7News Denver Everyday Hero award.

Dr. Anthony Ocana

NorthShore ADHD and Addiction Clinic

Dr. Ocana is a family physician whose practice is restricted to assessing and managing patients with complex mental health and addiction disorders. He has more than 23 years of experience assessing and managing patients with ADHD, addictions and co-occuring disorders including: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and impulse control disorders.He has participated in research, teaching, patient advocacy and is frequently called upon for his independent medical opinion. He has a BSc. in Pharmacology - Toxicology and an MSc. in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Toronto, and received his MD degree from the University of Toronto in 1991 with a residency in Family Medicine at the Foothills Hospital at the University of Calgary. In 2005, he became certified as an addiction specialist by the American Board of Addiction Medicine and founded the NorthShore ADHD and Addiction Clinic in 2007.


And More to Come...