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Cannabis conferences are expensive to attend, snuffing out attendance by many from low-income groups

“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.” Pictured above, Jenna Valleriani, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and strategic advisor for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Steep fees, pricey travel costs and high accommodation tabs work against giving everyone a seat at the table

Late in January, researchers, policy-makers, law enforcement representatives and government officials met in Los Angeles for the North American Cannabis Summit (NACS) that attracted attendees from all across North America. Framed as an industry-free conference, the program touched on a variety of critical cannabis issues, including education, public safety and public health, and boasted attracting the “best of the best” in the space.

Conferences like this can be extremely valuable—they allow everyone to network, share their work, and listen to the work others have done. However, participation in these key events is subject to extensive gatekeeping through steep fees and pricey travel and accommodation.

While this built-in inaccessibility is common to other high-profile conferences, few engage in a forthright discussion on how these fees systemically weed out individuals who are low income, unfunded students, community organizations, medical cannabis patients, and some, especially early career, professionals. While there are often some opportunities for grant funding and reduced admissions fees, there is often less transparency around how these actually shake out, including feedback around selection criteria.

When bringing together some of the cutting-edge work on cannabis and related policy, it’s important to ask, Who has the privilege of sharing knowledge, and more importantly: who gets to hear it?

Registration fees only part of a laundry list of costs

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.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Jenna Valleriani on The Growth Op

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Published: February 01, 2019

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