Pubdate: Thu, 09 Mar 2017
Source: Coast, The (CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 Coast Publishing
Author: Luke Johnstone (
Page: 6


For years, cannabis has been a counter-cultural symbol-a plant that
can be grown almost anywhere, giving it little marketing potential.
That's about to change.

At a show last summer, a musician friend said to me, "This is
Pineapple Express-I bought it legally in Kensington Market." Legal.
Weed. Kensington. Toronto. That stuck in the memory banks, and I
followed up next time I was in Toronto, visiting several locations of
one well-reputed dispensary, sampling as many marijuana strains and
concentrates as my budget would afford.

Signing up for membership was simple. The touchiest questions were the
doctor's name who had prescribed me cannabis (my retired GP's did the
trick), and I falsely claimed insomnia as my medical reason for
consuming. After moving to Toronto I began looking for a job, and
applied at the same dispensary. To my surprise, I was hired. As a
"budtender," I was selling high-quality products, and the work
environment and pay were pleasant overall. I was, however,
uncomfortable with the illegality and danger of the job, and
eventually left.

What makes me more uncomfortable is what the arrival of storefront
dispensaries could mean for our province, as well as for our relation
to cannabis as a culture. The fact that the dispensary Canna Clinic
has expanded from locations in British Columbia to Toronto-and now to
Halifax-predicts an interest in our region by companies poised to
profit from changing cannabis legislation.

Despite police raids, business in Halifax is said to be booming. If
this is the case with one out-of-province company now, what does it
mean for the future? Is there potential for a cannabis industry in
eastern Canada comparable to that of BC's? Though I think legalization
can be beneficial overall, after the bill is passed the question
remains for me: "As a recreational cannabis user, how can I ensure
that what I consume is ethical?"

In purchasing marijuana of an unknown source, there is the possibility
of money trickling into organized crime. On the other hand, I have
experienced the store-front dispensary model as a "fast-paced retail
environment," complete with a system of distributing tips based on
personal sales. Despite oft-recited medicinal rhetoric, it is clear
that they can be ruthless capitalist enterprises. For example, during
our training, we were informed that agents in cannabis can contribute
to brain cell growth. No study was cited.

Like many marijuana users, I usually place myself left of centre,
identifying more with the ideals of socialism than unfettered
capitalism. For years, cannabis has been a counter-cultural symbol-a
plant that can be grown almost anywhere with little care, giving it
little marketing potential. As stated, this is about to change.

Though I have not given up on responsible dispensaries, I feel that it
is important for Canadian adults to be allowed to grow and consume
their own cannabis in limited quantities. With shifting public opinion
on cannabis, it is my hope that superior gardening tools and
techniques will be more widely accessible.

To this end, I would support something not unlike a community garden,
perhaps alongside an industry resembling the scale and dedication to
authenticity of craft brewing.

I've left many significant issues surrounding cannabis untouched, but
it's important that consumers begin to ask themselves what truly
constitutes ethical weed. In my opinion, nothing could be more so than
growing your own.

Luke Johnstone is a recreational marijuana user and Haligonian in exile. 
Due to legal and safety concerns, he is not using his real name.
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MAP posted-by: Matt