• Niche Canada

NICHE Welcomes New Board of Directors

NICHE Canada is thrilled to announce its new Board of Directors that will help shape the future of the organization. The Board will provide leadership for carrying out our goal of advocating for a collaborative, sensible and evidence-based approach to cannabis legalization in Canada.

The team brings with them a wealth of experience in a variety of sectors within the cannabis industry and their strategic knowledge will help to strengthen our organization’s impact across Canada.

We look forward to working with the Board to continue supporting the development of cannabis policies and programs that centralize the health and safety of Canadians as a fundamental priority, while bringing together academic researchers, law makers, industry leaders and public health partners to support cannabis research, policy, public education and new resources for health and law enforcement stakeholders.

NICHE’s Board of Directors:

Dr. Daniel Bear (PhD)

Dr. Daniel Bear is a drugs policy researcher, with more than 15 years of experience conducting research on a variety of drug policy issues including, prevention, drugs education effectiveness, medical cannabis use, police enforcement of drugs laws, and policy responses to emerging drug issues. His research has involved everything from working with terminally ill patients as they grew an acre of medical cannabis in the hills above Santa Cruz, California, to spending a year alongside police in London as they conducted anti-drugs operations.

He worked with the American Civil Liberties Union to reform drug laws and has advised NGOs working with the Colombian National Police to institute democratic policing reforms.

Dr. Olga Chernoloz (PhD)

With a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, Olga has held a number of roles in clinical trials management, drug development, biotech and pharmaceutics. As a trained neuropharmacologist and a registered pharmacist, Dr. Chernoloz, head of Omnica Biotech, helps cannabinoid space players of all sizes to guide R&D programs, run feasibility analyses and optimize business development strategy taking into consideration scientific and regulatory underpinnings. The research program for development of cannabinoid veterinary drugs developed by her company was since adopted and successfully run through clinical trials.

Through collaboration with not-for profit CCIC she has developed a Medical Cannabis Guideline for Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists. Olga has designed and delivered a course in one of the first cannabis-centric college programs at AAPS and is leading the Science of Cannabis program at the Ryerson University.

Dr. Mark Hanna (PhD)

Mark Hanna is a profound believer in the need for a robust public education approach in Canada for both medical and recreational uses of cannabis. He has an extensive background in both education and the law, which he balances with a keen interest in cannabis policy and public education. This interest began in Mark’s law school days, where he studied under legendary cannabis advocate Alan Young at Osgoode Hall Law School. Mark went on to complete his Masters of Law in Intellectual Property at Osgoode and spent the next several years running a legal practice. Mark’s passion for service and education resulted in him accepting a Program Coordinator position at Humber College, and he has spent the last 12 years ascending the ranks, and is now Associate Dean of The Business School. Mark also completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Education from the University of Toronto. Mark is excited to bring the range of his experiences and perspectives to NICHE, in the hopes of furthering the cause of robust public education and harm reduction for the benefit of the diverse communities across Canada.

Marta James

Marta is a business lawyer practicing in the areas of franchising, licensing, intellectual property, advertising and consumer protection. Her industry focus is cannabis. Marta is a passionate advocate and a supporter of cannabis legalization around the world. She has a strong business background obtained through several years of work experience in marketing and product development prior to her legal career.

Marta has an honours bachelor’s degree in International Business and a Juris Doctor degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. She also completed a graduate certificate program in Global Affairs and is proficient in Spanish and French.

Through communication and education, Marta believes we can eliminate the stigma traditionally associated with cannabis, both as a recreational and medicinal substance.

Dessy Pavlova

Dessy has been studying drug policy and the cannabis industry for over a decade. As a marketing strategist, she has worked with a number of medical cannabis companies through the various changes in regulations from Health Canada's original Medical Marihuana Access Regulations (MMAR) to the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). She works as a marketing instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University as a part of the Cannabis Professionals Series.

As strategic advisor to Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP), she works with board members and chapters to disseminate evidence-based information about cannabis and safe drug use through outreach, marketing campaigns and resource development, such as the Sensible Cannabis Education Youth Toolkit.

Abi Sampson

Abigail Sampson began her cannabis career as a volunteer with NORML Canada, the longest running cannabis advocacy group in the country. During her tenure, she rose to the ranks of Executive Director, the first female to hold this position. Abigail is the Chair of the Dandelion Initiative, a grassroots not-for-profit organization providing supports and advocating on behalf of survivors of sexual assault.

Abigail presented as a witness before the Canadian Standing Committee on Health on Bill C45, the Cannabis Act and appeared at Queens Park in response to Bill 178, an Act to amend the Smoke Free Ontario Act. She actively engages Pickering municipal government on cannabis issues and creates opportunities for community education.

CEO Dr. Jenna Valleriani (PhD)

Dr. Jenna Valleriani continues to serve as CEO of NICHE. She recently completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the BC Centre on Substance Use and the Faculty of Medicine at UBC. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto, has published multiple manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and created one of the first Canadian-focused cannabis policy courses in Canada. She is also on the advisory board for Grow Tech Labs and a Strategic Advisor for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

The National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education (NICHE) is a not-for-profit corporation established to support the development of public policy and research to assist all levels of government and our communities manage the key issues tied to the legalization of cannabis. Working with the academic community, governments, industry partners, health advocates, law enforcement and interested stakeholders, NICHE provides spaces for collaborative, transparent, and fact-based public dialogue and discussion across Canada.

The key role of NICHE is to identify and bridge knowledge gaps that exist in the following areas:

  • Public health and safety

  • Education and knowledge translation / mobilization

  • Legislation and regulatory reforms at all levels of government

  • Research and best practices in health and harm reduction