Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jun 2010
Source: Ring, The (U of Victoria, CN BC Edu)
Copyright: 2010 The Ring
Photo: Lucas with statue of Sir John A. MacDonald at Victoria City 


Victoria City Councillor and Vancouver Island Compassion Society 
founder Philippe Lucas has had his share of life experiences. Lucas 
was exposed to hepatitis C through the tainted blood supply at age 
12, but the condition was only diagnosed in 1995, the same year that 
his father committed suicide. "Sometimes life makes choices for us, 
and with the benefit of a little longevity we can see that even the 
most adverse event or situation can lead to some positive outcomes," 
says Lucas, whose personal experiences with medical cannabis led him 
to conduct a number of research projects on this topic over the last 15 years.

Graduating with a Master of Arts in Studies in Policy and Practice-an 
interdisciplinary graduate program in the Faculty of Human and Social 
Development aimed at those involved in social activism, human 
services and community work-has provided an opportunity to "deepen 
the theoretical underpinnings that form the base of progressive 
reform efforts, particularly in the area of drug policy," says Lucas.

Recipient of the 2007 UVic Blue and Gold award for community 
contributions, Lucas has worked towards raising awareness on social 
issues such as homelessness, drug policy reform and food security. 
Currently a research affiliate and board member with the Centre for 
Addictions Research of BC at UVic, Lucas says, "I have a passion for 
work and research around progressive social change towards the 
legitimization of a patient-centered, community-based approach to 
medical cannabis."

In 1999 he opened the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, a 
non-profit medical cannabis research and distribution centre in 
Victoria. He has testified in front of Senate and the House of 
Commons on the issue of mandatory minimum sentences (Bill C-26 and 
C-15) and was invited to share his research and experience on medical 
cannabis access with Israel's Ministry of Health.

"I believe that the letters at the end of your name really do have an 
impact on policy direction and how seriously your research is 
regarded in an academic setting," says Lucas, who pursued an 
education in liberal arts at Concordia, Carleton, Bishop's and UBC, 
but chose UVic in 1995 for its mid-size, beauty and academic 
excellence. He completed a professional degree in education and went 
on to teach English and drama in a local secondary school. An 
increasing interest in social justice and harm reduction compelled 
him to pursue an education that complemented research in an area 
where few experienced researchers existed.

He credits UVic with another important milestone in his life. "Ten 
years ago I had the fortune of meeting my wife through a conference 
she was organizing at UVic. She has been an incredibly supportive 
partner through many challenges and successes over the last 10 
years-from lengthy court cases and election campaigns, to many years 
of study at UVic," says Lucas. He and his wife, Mary (MA 2001, 
history in art), recently embarked on a retail business venture 
called "Hip Baby" following another milestone-parenthood. Their 
daughter was born one month before his election to Victoria City 
Council in 2008.

Lucas will continue to champion the importance of social justice 
through his work on harm reduction and environmental sustainability 
on council and in the community. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake