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Drug policy event moves abruptly from Vancouver to Richmond

Organizers say Prosper symposium was moved due to safety reasons.
A drug policy forum scheduled for Thursday, May 30, 2024 has been moved from Vancouver to Richmond.

It appears a drug policy forum, whose agenda includes BC United Leader Kevin Falcon and BC Conservatives' John Rustad - as well as a former White House drug policy advisor - has been moved from Vancouver to Richmond.

The Prosper symposium, hosted by the Foundation for Drug Policy Solutions, will be held on Thursday morning at the Richmond Westin Wall Centre. It was originally scheduled to be held in Vancouver, at the Wall Centre in downtown.

Some participants claim they weren't informed of the venue change, despite having paid about $75 tickets for the four-hour event.  

"The Symposium organizers have changed the venue one day before the event to avoid potential protest or questioning (from the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre to the Westin Wall Hotel in Richmond)," said Richmond resident Trevor Tablotney in a media release. 

"This speculation of protest has also resulted in the exclusion of participants who have paid registration fees to attend the conference. These registrants include Moms Stop the Harm and Curtis Dream Society."

Katy Merrifield, spokesperson for the Prosper event, said they had received some "intel" indicating there were people who were going to "disrupt" the event. This intel included a recording of a VANDU conversation, Merrifield explained, with details of how it would be disrupted.

Certain people who were named had their tickets cancelled and received a full refund, Merrifield added.

The event was then moved to Richmond, considered a "safer location," she added. 

The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) is holding a press conference Thursday morning, which will include residents of Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver, to "speak out against the U.S.-backed Prosper Conference." 

In addition to Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy advisor, other speakers at the conference include Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, Dr. Julian Somers and Dr. Keith Humphreys.

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