Pubdate: Tue, 10 Oct 2017
Source: Niagara Falls Review, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Niagara Falls Review
Author: Alison Langley
Page: A1


Former NHL player Riley Cote says marijuana helped him deal with the
pain and anxiety that came with being an enforcer with the
Philadelphia Flyers.

"I used it as an ally," the Winnipeg native said Saturday at the Grow
Up Cannabis Conference and Expo at Scotiabank Convention Centre in
Niagara Falls.

"It helped me to manage my pain and inflammation. It helped me sleep
and it helped with my anxiety. I was fighting guys way out of my
weight class and cannabis was the ultimate tool for that anxiety."

While marijuana provided relief from aches and pains, it couldn't
protect him from the sheer physical toll of being a professional
hockey player.

"I retired at 28 because, physically, my body was shutting down," Cote

"I was averaging one surgery a year. As an athlete, your vehicle is
your body and once that can't go any more it's time to make a decision."

It wasn't until he retired in 2010 that he began to examine the
therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

"It made me feel pretty good to know that even during my meat head
days when I was getting punched in the face for a living I was
actually protecting my brain," he recalled.

He became a cannabis activist and created the Hemp Heals Foundation, a
non-profit organization which promotes hemp, a non-psychoactive
version of cannabis, as a viable renewable resource. He is also the
co-founder and NHL league ambassador for Athletes for Care, a charity
which provides support to former professional athletes.

While he credits marijuana with helping him survive his NHL days, Cote
said it was a regime he kept to himself.

"I consumed cannabis quietly," he said. "It was something you didn't
publicly talk about, for obvious reasons."

Today, attitudes towards marijuana have changed dramatically.

The federal government has pledged to legalize recreational marijuana
by July 1, 2018.

The new law would allow adults 18 and over to possess up to 30 grams
of dried cannabis or its equivalent in public, share up to 30 grams of
dried marijuana with other adults and buy cannabis or cannabis oil
from a provinciallyregulated retailer.

"The Canadian cannabis industry is projected to be worth more than
$21.6 billion," said Neill Dixon, co-organizer of the two-day conference.

"This is your chance to share critical information on everything from
mildew and fungus to intellectual property."

More than 4,000 people attended the conference which featured more
than 90 speakers and dozens of exhibitors.

Among the exhibitors was Advanced Nutrients, the largest manufacturer
of fertilizer for the medical marijuana industry.

"We were the first company to make fertilizer for medical marijuana
and we're now in 52 countries," said company spokesman Jeff Cuffley.

Advance Nutrients has been supplying Tweed, a subsidiary of Canopy
Growth, with fertilizer for the past two and half years.

Based in Smith Falls, Tweed is the largest producer of medical
cannabis in Canada. It operates Tweed Farms in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

"We are in the midst of our biggest legal harvest ever," said Shega
Youngson, Tweed's community engagement manager.

The company in September announced plans to expand the facility to
90,000 square metres, which will make it the largest marijuana
facility in the world. The planned expansion will create more than 100
full-time jobs, on top of the construction jobs and other employment

"If it's going to be legal, and there will be jobs on hand, why not in
Niagara," said Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati.

"We might as well participate in the revenue stream."

The event offered panels on cultivation and processing and also
examined regulations and innovations in the marijuana industry.

"Ten years ago, events like this didn't exist," Yongson said of the
conference. "That's why every cannabis conference is so exciting
because you get to see all the hard work people are putting in to
legitimize our industry."

Event co-founder Randy Rowe said Niagara was an ideal location for the

"Niagara is a destination for growers, it has the reputation for
having the finest greenhouses," he said.

Niagara College announced last month it will offer Canada's first
post-secondary program focusing on the production of marijuana. The
program will be located at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, which is
home to the college's other agri-business programs, facilities and
research projects.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt