The CBA's National Magazine Presents: Is it Time to Legalize Marijuana?

  • February 19, 2015

Ottawa – As part of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) 2015 Mid-Winter Meeting of Council, a panel of experts will debate the pros and cons of whether it is time to legalize marijuana.

Proponents say that criminalizing marijuana only clogs the court system while the serious criminal element flourishes. They argue legalization would push the drug trade to the fringes and hand control of sales, quality and advertising to government, which could devote part of the $1.2-billion it spends annually to enforce cannabis laws on health initiatives. 

Opponents worry about the health risks of “normalizing” marijuana use, including the risk of addiction and the implications for brain and heart health, particularly for younger users. As well, regulating marijuana use might be easier said than done – and might not deliver the hoped-for harm reduction, especially considering society’s experience with alcohol and tobacco.


Moderator: Pierre Moreau, Moreau Avocats

Dr. Mark Ware, Associate professor, McGill University

Dr. Ware is Associate Professor in Family Medicine and Anesthesia at McGill University. He is the Director of Clinical Research of the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at the McGill University Health Centre and Executive Director of the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids.

Rebecca Jesseman, Interim Director, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

Prior to taking on the director role, Rebecca Jesseman’s policy work focused on issues such as marijuana regulation, harm reduction interventions, and criminal justice system considerations.

Eugene Oscapella, Barrister & Solicitor, Ottawa

Eugene Oscapella is co-founder of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy and lecturer on drug policy in the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa.

Ian Culbert, Executive Director, Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA)

With 25 years in the field, Ian Culbert is committed to advancing public health through innovative, evidence-informed policy and practice. 

The panel discussion takes place on Sunday, Feb. 22 at 10:15 am, Ballroom, Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, and is open to accredited media.  Please contact Hannah Bernstein at for accreditation.

The CBA is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 36,000 lawyers, notaries in Quebec, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.