Scott Bernstein

Executive Director

Scott is the Executive Director of MAPS Canada. With over 13 years experience in the drug policy field and longtime work with non-profits, serving on non-profit boards, and owning his own businesses, he brings a broad range of experience to this position. Previously, Scott served as Director of Policy for the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, where he led the organization’s work on legal regulation of drugs, decriminalization and safe supply. Originally from the US, Scott came to Vancouver in 2006 to study law. Through his own legal practice and with Vancouver-based non-profit Pivot Legal Society, Scott has participated in strategic litigation focused on advancing human rights of people who use drugs, including challenging municipal anti-harm reduction bylaws, advocating for access to prescription heroin treatment, and defending Insite, North America’s first sanctioned injection site in the Supreme Court of Canada and lower courts.

Michael Oliver

Volunteer Coordinator

Michael serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for MAPS Canada as well as Assistant to the Executive Director. In addition to providing operational support to MAPS, Michael is responsible for (organizing, mobilizing) a large team of volunteers. Michael completed a degree in Cognitive Systems at the University of British Columbia with a research focus on mind wandering. He was a Research Assistant with the Cognitive Neuroscience of Thought Laboratory and ran the UBC Psychedelic Society for three years. In his free time, Michael enjoys long-distance running, exploring the mountains and making music.

Board of Directors

Rick Doblin

Founder - maps

Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he wrote his dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana and his Master’s thesis on a survey of oncologists about smoked marijuana vs. the oral THC pill in nausea control for cancer patients. His undergraduate thesis at New College of Florida was a 25-year follow-up to the classic Good Friday Experiment, which evaluated the potential of psychedelic drugs to catalyze religious experiences. He also conducted a thirty-four year follow-up study to Timothy Leary’s Concord Prison Experiment. Rick studied with Dr. Stanislav Grof and was among the first to be certified as a Holotropic Breathwork practitioner. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise healthy people, and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist. He founded MAPS in 1986, and currently resides in Boston with his wife and three children.

Eesmyal Santos-Brault

Board chair

Eesmyal is a serial social entrepreneur with over 15 years experience serving on non-profit boards. He has cofounded 10 ventures in a variety of areas including: green building, coworking, locative media, civic engagement, education, SaaS, and research. Some of these include Vancouver’s premier social impact coworking space The HiVE, a B-Corp certified company (Recollective) that facilitates the design and construction of some of the greenest buildings in Canada, and a healthtech startup (Quantified Citizen) that’s building a platform for democratizing health science research through mobile technology. Eesmyal is currently the head of the MAPS Canada Tech Committee. 

Colleen Fish

Colleen Fish is now completing a Master of Public Policy and Administration: Social Change Leadership (Adler University – Vancouver). Her capstone project is exploring lived-experiences of psychedelic-assisted therapy in order to design good policies for the use of psychedelics in the public health care system, when they become available by prescription.

Colleen Fish completed both a Bachelor of Science with Specialization in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Anthropology. Colleen has worked in the area of mental health, harm reduction, human rights, and drug policy reform for over 20 years. Colleen was deemed an expert witness in the court of law along and greatly enjoys public speaking especially on the topics of mental health, drug policy, harm reduction and altered states of consciousness. Colleen has worked as a research assistant, psychiatric worker in an acute psychiatric unit and as an addiction support worker with Vancouver Coastal Health Authority over the past six years.

Colleen began volunteering with MAPS Canada in 2011, although it was in 1998 when she first heard of MAPS and was intrigued by the idea of using MDMA as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In 2012, Colleen was the first official volunteer of MAPS Canada as the assistant to the Board of Directors and Volunteer Coordinator until 2017. In 2015, she was elected to the MAPS Canada Board of Directors.

Dinesh Bhayana

Dinesh Bhayana is an emergency and addiction medicine physician based in Toronto, ON, Canada. He completed medical school at the University of Western Ontario and residency at the University of Toronto. Since 2013, he has worked in both hospital and community settings in Northern Ontario and Toronto. His interests include expanding in-hospital addiction services and ensuring adequate community support for his patients. He holds an academic appointment with McMaster University and is engaged in both clinical bedside teaching as well as lecturing on topics in emergency and addiction medicine.

Advisory Board

MAPS Canada supports the following individuals who have offered their experience, expertise, and endorsement of MAPS Canada. The members of the advisory board support MAPS Canada’s specific strategies and overall goals, including the support and promotion of scientific research and evidence-based public education about the potential harms and benefits of psychedelic substances and marijuana.

Advisory Board members may make recommendations to the board of MAPS Canada and respond to questions from the Board of Directors. Advisory Board members advocate and promote MAPS Canada’s vision and support associated fundraising efforts.

Bruce Alexander

Bruce Alexander is a Canadian psychologist who has devoted the last four decades to the study of addiction. He has worked with injecting street addicts in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown East Side, methadone users in Vancouver clinics, middle class addicts at Simon Fraser University, and drug using rodents in his psychopharmacology laboratory, better known as “Rat Park”. His two books on addiction are Peaceful Measures: Canada’s Way Out of the War on Drugs (University of Toronto Press, 1990) and The Globalization of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit (Oxford University Press, 2010). He is presently working as a political and social activist in East Vancouver with “A Community Aware,” and the “Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives” and finishing a book on the history of psychology for Cambridge University Press

Gabor Maté

Gabor Maté, M.D., is a physician and best-selling author whose books have been published in twenty languages on five continents. His interests include child development, the mind-body unity in health and illness, and the treatment of addictions. Gabor has worked in family practice, palliative care, and addiction medicine. He regularly addresses health professionals, educators, and lay audiences throughout North America. He is the recipient of a number of awards, including a Simon Fraser University Outstanding Alumnus Award and an honourary degree from the University of Northern British Columbia. His most recent book, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction, won the Hubert Evans Prize for literary nonfiction.

Brian Emerson

Dr. Brian Emerson has been working for ten years as a Medical Consultant in population and public health with the BC Ministry of Health. Dr. Emerson was raised in Calgary, Alberta, and moved to Victoria to study and work in marine biology. Subsequent education included a general medical degree and a masters degree in public health from University of BC. 

Prior his current position Brian worked for fifteen years as a Medical Health Officer in a variety of locations in BC, most being in the north half of Vancouver Island. 

Current priority areas of work include public health legislation, public health human resources planning and work force development, support to the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, and policy development about public health approaches to psychoactive substances (alcohol, tobacco, illegal and prescription substances). A major project was coordinating the development, and now implementation of a new BC Public Health Act and supporting regulations. 

With respect to psychoactive substances Brian coordinated the development of a number or papers by The Health Officers Council of BC (HOC) – the most recent being “Public Health Perspectives for Regulating Psychoactive Substances”. For, additional reports on this topic by HOC, click here.


Zach Walsh

Zach Walsh, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the University of British Columbia Department of Psychology, Co-Director for the Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science and Law, and a registered clinical psychologist. Zach’s cannabis-related research focuses on the use of cannabis for therapeutic and recreational purposes, and on the associations among cannabis use, mental health and addictions. Ongoing externally funded projects include the Cannabis Access for Medical Purposes Study (CAMPS) designed to identify barriers to access for medical cannabis; the Medical Cannabis Standards Engagement Evaluation and Dissemination (SEED) study which is a partnership with the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries to develop and implement a standardization and certification framework for medical cannabis dispensaries; and the Medical Cannabis and Arthritis – Barriers and Pathways study which will examine attitudes and behaviours related to the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes among individuals with arthritis. Zach and his colleagues are also involved in research specifying the role of mood and cognition in the analgesic effects of cannabis, clarifying relationships between cannabis use and the use of other psychoactive substances, and investigations of cannabis use trajectories among university students.

Tara Lyones

Tara Lyons, PhD, is a Faculty member in the Department of Criminology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and a Research Scientist with the Gender & Sexual Health Initiative of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. Dr. Lyons’ research explores the relationships between health, gender, sexuality, and the criminalization of sex work and drug use. She is currently leading research projects on experiences of queer women and trans* persons in drug use and sex work environments using a variety of methods, including ethnography, photography and quantitative analysis. 

Dr. Lyons has worked extensively within social justice activism, including prison justice and drug policy reform. She served as the Executive Director of the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy for 3 years. Her research program has been developed to document the effects of criminalization on the health of marginalized populations and to shape relevant social, legal, and policy reforms. Her PhD research examining Ottawa’s drug treatment court informed witness presentations and briefs to the Justice and Human Rights Parliamentary Committee and the Senate Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs as they deliberated mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses legislation. Dr. Lyons also co-authored the first legal report examining drug treatment courts in Canada (PDF) with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Throughout her academic career, Dr. Lyons has actively engaged in knowledge translation activities across academic, community, and policy settings. She has delivered over 75 presentations to researchers, community groups, students, and policymakers.

David Kennedy

David is a UBC graduate in Medicine 1962. In 1963 he went with his wife Linda (B. Sc. Nursing UBC) to India with the United Church, working with Dr. Bob McClure for two years, and then a further three years at a village hospital in the Central Province. The family drove home to Canada via Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran Turkey and Europe arriving in 1969 in Quebec city with daughter Kiran age three. Son Michael was born 1969. Moved to Vernon (Linda’s home town) in 1971. Did General Practice until 1989. David was made a Fellow of the College of Family Practice in 1986 and was also a president of the Vernon Medical Association. He shifted into full time family and marital counselling in 1990 after a three year training program and internship year. He Retired in 2000. He presented couples workshops for 12 years at Round Lake Native Alcohol and Drug treatment centre, and also led groups in Marriage Erichment, and Marriage Encounter for ten years. He was a founding board member of the Vernon Family Resource centre, and started a Lay Counseling training program and a pre-marriage course under its auspices.

His interests include mountain climbing, skiing, canoeing, cycling, politics, and local trail building society. He has had a career long interest in addictions, and has been following the drug use scene closely for 7 years particularly with regard to the so called “War on Drugs.” He has worked with StoptheViolenceBC speaking to Okanagan groups and municipal councils on illegal drug policy issues. He is a member of “LEAP”, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy.

Andrew Feldmar

Andrew Feldmar is a psychotherapist who has been in the private practice of psychotherapy for over 44 years, in Vancouver, Canada. He was inspired to practice a form of radical (from radix, root) therapy, by R. D. Laing, who was his teacher, therapist, supervisor and later friend and colleague. He was introduced to research with and the therapeutic use of psychedelics in 1967. His interest in entheogen-assisted therapy has never flagged. He has published many books in Hungarian. He lectures, teaches, provides supervision and therapy internationally.

Caroline Ferris

Caroline Ferris graduated from UBC Med in 1986 and is currently the Clinical Assistant Professor at the UBC Department of Family Practice as well as the Behaviour Medicine Lead for the UBC Family Practice Faculty Team. Caroline is also the current Director and Physician Wellness Lead for the Surrey/North Delta Division of Family Practice. Caroline’s practice focusses on addictions and street medicine.

Kenneth Tupper

Kenneth W. Tupper, Ph.D., is currently an Adjunct Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. He has been active in the field of psychedelic studies for more than fourteen years, having done an M.A. thesis and Ph.D. dissertation that developed the concept of “entheogenic education,” a theoretical frame for understanding the kinds of learning that can be realized through the circumspect uses of psychedelics as cognitive tools. His other research interests include the cross-cultural and historical uses of psychoactive substances; public, professional and school-based drug education; and creating healthy public policy to maximize benefits and minimize harms from currently illegal drugs.

Robert Laurie

Robert W.E. Laurie is an international lawyer, qualified in England and called to the British Columbia Bar. Robert founded AD LUCEM LAW CORPORATION in Vancouver in 2013 and his legal practice focuses on commercial business and regulatory issues surrounding cannabis and psychedelic plant medicines.

Robert serves as a Board Advisor to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Canada and Steve DeAngelo’s Last Prisoner Project. Robert is one of the Founding Partners with Dr. Dennis McKenna of the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy and is a Director of Jay DeMerit and Ashleigh McIvor’s Rise and Shine Foundation. Further, Robert is the Chairman of the Advisory Board of Liberty Leaf Holdings Ltd. (CSE: LIB, OTCQB: LIBFF and FSE: HN3P). He holds an M.A. (Hons) Juris from the University of Oxford (St. Edmund Hall) and B.A. (Hons) in Political Science and International Relations from the University of British Columbia.

Pamela Smith-Gander

Pamela is a defence lawyer who has practiced Criminal Law in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver (DTES) for the last 23 years. Prior to being called to the Bar, she worked in the Law Student’s Legal Advice Program at UBC for three years and founded the clinic at the Youth Action Centre in the DTES to assist street kids who were in conflict with the law.

Pamela was fortunate enough to be articled to John Conroy, QC and spent the majority of her articles researching and preparing for the R. v. Caine constitutional challenge to the prohibition laws relating to Cannabis. She has continued in this area throughout her legal practice and is a passionate advocate for the decriminalization of psychotropic drugs.

She has maintained an ongoing interest in plant medicines and has continues to pursue studies in the area. She routinely documents and compiles the characteristics and occurrences of medicinal herbs wherever she travels. She prepares her own plant medicines and rarely utilizes allopathic medical preparations.Pamela has continued in her social service through 23 years of volunteering on the Board of Directors of the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of BC, the John Howard Society of BC, and the John Howard Society of Canada, serving as the President of both the Provincial and Lower Mainland societies.

Matei Olaru

Matei Olaru is the CEO of Lift & Co, a publicly-traded technology company modernizing the cannabis industry. Under his leadership, Lift & Co. has scaled from a simple medical cannabis blog into an emerging data insights provider and digital marketing leader.

In just over two years, Matei’s vision for cannabis’ evolution towards a consumer packaged goods industry has attracted nearly $17 million in investment, a public market listing and has positioned Lift & Co. as a central technology trusted by consumers, industry and government.

Today, Lift & Co. leads from the centre of the cannabis industry, enabling its stakeholders to better understand and connect with cannabis consumers through a platform of CPG-like marketing solutions including trade and consumer marketing, data insights, and event marketing.

A corporate lawyer and consultant by trade, Matei previously worked at Stikeman Elliott LLP and helped advise international governments on business and investment policy with the World Bank in Washington, D.C., Matei was named one of Bay Street Bull’s 30 Under 30 in 2019, and one of the Financial Post’s 2018 Top 20 Cannabis Power Players. He regularly appears on BNN, CP24 and CBC, and has commented on stories in Forbes, Financial Post, Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail.