MRCC

Grow, Gift, Repair

More affordable Cannabis Conferences needed

The price of registration at major conferences alone, often closes the door for many. Consider instances, such as NACS, where registration came in around $1,200, and attendance also required air or other travel, hotel accommodation, food and arranging child or pet care. This may be a standard cost for industry conferences, where the assumption is businesses are able to pay these steep fees, but this should not be the case for policy and academic conferences. While there are those who may have access to conference funding through work or schools, this almost always requires payment upfront and out of pocket, to be reimbursed by their institution later.

The aforementioned isn’t an option for everyone. There are many, particularly those working with smaller organizations on the ground and those with lived experiences, that have meaningful contributions to make to this larger cannabis conversation, and will continue to be excluded despite making significant impacts in their communities.
With these high price tags, access to a potentially illuminating range of diversity in opinion, study and life experience is being limited. Consider when cannabis is discussed as a potential substitution therapy for opiates, or when talk turns to the disproportionate impacts of cannabis laws on vulnerable communities: Are people with lived experience given space to share their experiences with government officials, law enforcement, academics and policy-makers—the latter arguably the movers and shakers of North American cannabis policy?

“Ensuring these groups have a seat at the table, and that these events are accessible to a range of people interested in the development of cannabis policy, is not only good practice—it’s imperative.”Tijana Martin / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Access to these audiences is a critical consideration and a privilege, which should afford others the opportunity to speak from different social spaces and backgrounds. Researching or creating policy affecting certain groups also demands that those being researched, and the organizations that work alongside them, benefit from the knowledge being produced. Ensuring these groups have a seat at the table, and that these events are accessible to a range of people interested in the development of cannabis policy, is not only good practice—it’s imperative.