Pubdate: Sat, 10 Feb 2018
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2018 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Kate Robertson
Page: O5


If, five years ago, someone had asked me how I felt about cannabis,
I'd assume they were a cop. Even the term "marijuana" - a word
believed to be brought to the United States by Mexican migrant workers
before the Prohibition era, which was later used to promote racist
anti-pot messaging - was a red flag to discreet and casual users such
as myself.

Weed, cheeba, ganja, sticky-icky, dank nugs - terms the community has
appropriated from Rastafarians, West Coast hippies, rappers and Indian
yogis: These are the words that would have communicated familiarity
and, therefore, acceptance of the habit. But what do you call it now
that Canada has developed a sophisticated legal medical program and is
close to passing its recreational cannabis legislation? Well, from
black-market producers to young workers in illegal dispensaries to the
burgeoning, optimistic legal industry: We've all agreed to say cannabis.

I joined the industry full-time last spring. First, I handled the
social-media channels for a Canadian licensed producer of medicinal
cannabis. Replacing "weed" with "cannabis" came naturally in a medical
setting because, after all, it's the proper botanical name for the

It's not just scientific: Marketers have another challenge, which is
to try to reduce stigma and break through the stoner stereotypes. No,
we're not all lazy or forgetful. We don't all wear Birkenstocks and
tie-dye and talk like surfers. Using neutral language helps to market
the product to a new, curious population that feels alienated by films
such as Pineapple Express.

But in my new role as an editor for a Canadian cannabis news and
reviews website, we know that "weed" is searched far more than
"cannabis" or "marijuana" on Google. Weed stocks, surprising no one,
is one of the most-searched terms on search engines. But some feel the
word connotes something negative. (I would argue that it really
depends on your tone.)

But what's even more interesting is how much language hasn't changed.
Cannabis is a marketer's nightmare, and not just because Canada's
advertising regulations are likely going to look a lot like tobacco's.
It's also complicated and not simple to unpack: There are so many
different types of the plant with myriad and unconventional names;
various ways of ingesting it and countless accoutrements that you
never dreamed you would ever want to know about, let alone own. And -
fortunately for those of us with a sense of humour - there just isn't
the time or desire to rebrand the whole lexicon.

And that's why I love cannabis: Yes, it's extremely complex and
powerful. But it's also very, very silly.

For example: strains. Would you like some Green Crack or are you more
in the mood for a Sour Diesel? How about some Bubba's Gift? There are
innumerable strains of cannabis and some licensed producers are
developing proprietary genetics with even more names. Different
strains produce different effects, so it's important to know what
you're using, and I will never forget the time I heard a brand-new
user extol the sleepy-time virtues of "kush," an indica (one of two
categories of cannabis) derived from the Kush mountains in South Asia.
Why? Because Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre have a song dedicated to kush;
rapper Wiz Khalifa called one of his mix-tapes Kush & OJ, a winning
combination I'm sure. It warms the heart.

Ingestion methods also present a steep learning curve in terms of
vocabulary. We all know that joints are, uh, "marijuana cigarettes,"
right? (Has any cannabis user ever said that, ever, in the history of
the universe?) And because we can all agree smoking spliffs, blunts
and jimmies is generally bad for your health, new ingestion methods
have been invented. Now, many patients registered with Health Canada
are advised to buy a vaporizer or vape, which heats up your pot (or
dried cannabis flower) in a portable oven to "decarb" it (or
decarboxylate, which activates the psychoactive and anti-inflammatory
compounds) without combusting it.

First, you put your flower in a grinder - simple palmsize steel
technology that helps you break down your cannabis from a tight nugget
to a fluffy substance. Then you fill a chamber with flower. Adjust
your temperature settings, and once it's ready, sip lightly on the
mouthpiece. We call the flavours you taste "terps" (or terpenes),
which are actually found in lots of other plants. Increasingly,
cannabis consumers want to know more about terpenes, which were once
described to me as the "essential oils" of cannabis. Substances such
as limonene and myrcene are aromatic, and produce weed's distinctive,
unmistakable scent. Sometimes it's a little skunky, sometimes it's
almost fruity, but … you know it. In Toronto, where I live, I smell it
on the streets multiple times a day.

As you continue to grind your pot over time, a powdery, sticky
substance called kief collects in the bottom chamber. Researchers have
discovered that this is where the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the
psychoactive compound) and CBD (cannabidiol, the anti-inflammatory,
"body-buzz"-inducing non-psychoactive) are located, and it's also what
you make hash from. It's gold, and many just mix it in with a joint or
sprinkle it on for a bong hit. Can you believe I'm writing this for
The Globe and Mail?

Sorry - to continue: Flower that has been vaped now has an abbreviated
term - ABV. This stands for Already Been Vaped. Yes, seriously! But it
doesn't matter, because you can recycle your ABV. Sprinkle it into
your slow cooker with a few sticks of butter to make canna-butter for
edibles. (But be careful. Think of the Toronto officers who recently
called their own police department on themselves after eating edibles.
Mostly harmless, but positively mortifying!)

And because the new legal industry isn't just building on what the
illegal industry innovated, defined black market language is alive and
well at Canada's 80-plus licensed producers. Production facilities,
sometimes hundreds of thousands of square feet in size, are still
often referred to as "grows." And some even sell "shake" - the
lower-quality blends of bits and pieces of cannabis that have fallen
off as the smokable flowers are trimmed from the plants. Shake is
useful for edibles, too.

But there is one term that, for me, still distinguishes the activists
and counterculture from the rest of us who are leaping on the new
legal bandwagon. You know you're talking to an old-school member of
the cannabis community when they send you an e-mail and, instead of
opening with, "Hi Kate," they open with, "High Kate!"

I admit, there was a time that made me cringe. But when I'm watching
the politics unfold with the worries about youth (who already use
cannabis more than in any other country) or the new marketing
campaigns aimed at de-stonerizing the culture's reputation, it's easy
to forget that this was supposed to be fun. It's easy to forget how we
got here and why.

The government says it's legalizing recreational cannabis because
prohibition hasn't dissuaded enough young people, whose developing
brains could be affected, from using it. Nor has it prevented
organized crime. But it was cannabis activists and, yes, drug dealers
- - who risked their reputations, their abilities to travel, their
relationships with their families, their freedom - who created
Canada's enthusiasm for cannabis. Why? Because they believed in not
just its medicinal applications, but also its power to bring people
together to connect, tell jokes and have fun.

Cannabis, weed, whatever you want to call it: So long as it contains
THC, it will make you feel high. No words can ever change that. Weed
does alter your perception. And yes, it might also make you talk silly.

- -----------------------------------------------------------------

Kate Robertson (Editor at The views expressed are the author's own.)
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt