Well, we’ve done it. To what seemed like limited fanfare—a few social posts, some in-store specials and some discussion amongst those who work in the industry—cannabis legalization in Canada officially turned two this year. And like a proud parent realizing the importance of time spent with our young ones, I took a few minutes to reflect.
So much has happened in the two years since this all began, yet it’s an industry barely out of the womb. Still eating in a highchair, likely wearing diapers and probably just starting to take its first steps standing up. Think about that. We’ve given birth to this baby and if the terrible-twos are what they say they are—I can’t help but wonder what we’re in for next.
I like this analogy. It reminds me how young this newborn industry still is and has a funny way of highlighting the expectations we’ve attached to it. Almost as if we wanted to give birth to a full-grown adult: brain fully developed, mistakes made, lessons learned and the wisdom that can only come from years of adolescent mishaps, overly eager ambition and the patience to understand how to pick the right battles.
So, rather than shit all over the things we wish were going exactly the way we want, I’ve decided to use November—the 11th month—to highlight my 11 favourite things about two years of legal cannabis in Canada. In no particular order and without prejudice, here we go:
This may seem like an obvious choice, but I sometimes feel we’ve lost sight of the big picture. It’s too easy to complain about choice, products, price, store models, process, etc., but really—think about it—we have legal weed in Canada! Just talk to someone in a country or state where that’s not the case and you are quickly reminded of the magnitude of that simple fact. We did it and the world is watching. I love that.
It’s not what you think. Yes, he does love it, but he doesn’t smoke it and he hates to get high. As a veteran of the military, I remember chatting with him about it for the first time shortly after legalization. With so much talk of the potential medicinal benefits, he couldn’t help but wonder if it might be a good replacement to the pain patch he was wearing. Two months later, I asked him how the capsules were treating him. “Man, the patch is gone, and I haven’t slept better in 25 years. I don’t even get mad when I’m looking for my tools now.” You’re welcome, Dad.
I used to own an advertising agency. My wife used to run a nutrition school. Now we both work in the cannabis industry. I head up marketing for a vaporizer company and my wife runs a network of medicinal clinics. It makes for great conversation; we’re learning a ton and having an influence on the future of this industry. Yep—we get to do that. So many of us get to do that! We’re very lucky to be a part of something like this in our lifetime. Right?!
This might be one of the most important aspects of this whole thing. Until now, we couldn’t legally mine for scientific evidence and proof of the potential outcomes. Good or bad. Anecdotal evidence is everywhere, and folks generally lean on information that supports their beliefs. Now we can truly study and better understand the real effects of use and share this info with the world. This makes me proud.
I remember the feeling of not wanting to talk about it. Not wanting to tell anyone I was an occasional user. People would drop hints here and there to feel out if you smoked or not. You’d joke and laugh until someone suggested you go outside. “You mean you have some?!” It was all so unnecessary and childlike. No more. It’s open, it’s honest and it’s ok.
I was never a fan of asking a friend or going to a dealer. I just didn’t like the way it made me feel. I would ask someone, who would ask someone, and I’d meet them after work. Really, I just didn’t enjoy that part of the process. I never really knew what I was getting and was always told it was good. I just had to believe them and frankly, it was good—because it was what I had! Now, we can shop for weed. In a store. With information and options. Who knew?
This never gets old to me. You can order weed online and Canada Post will deliver it. I don’t know. I just don’t think I ever imagined that happening in my lifetime. Remember the days when Canada Post was in real trouble? They faced major structural changes brought on by the internet and the resulting collapse in letter volumes and rise in packages. Their model was broken. I often joke that legal cannabis saved Canada Post. I know it’s not entirely true, but I’m sure it helped. And I like to acknowledge how the effects of legal cannabis reach much further than we realize.
Remember point #6? I absolutely love being able to know what I’m getting and choose something based on its content. Understanding the cannabinoid profile, terpenes and what to expect from something means we can experiment and find what works best. I literally have notes on the cannabis I’ve tried, narrowing it down to the range of THC and CBD I like, the terpenes that seem to affect me the most positively and the ones that seem to make my allergies go berzerk. I’ve even organized my stash shelf from high to low percentages from left to right and will choose my weapon based on the intended outcome. What’s not to like about that?
I like to blame my job in the cannabis world for insisting that I need to try all the various forms of cannabis, but I really think I’d be the same if it weren’t the case. I like to know how the different ways of ingesting affect me. A beverage, pre-roll, hash, vape—you name it. They all seem to have a different affect and I love learning about that and better understanding what works best for what. I have no real set-in-stone way of using it. I sometimes like to roll; I love having a vape in my pocket ready to go at any given moment and an edible after dinner makes for a perfect movie later that night. There’s so much on the menu. Why not explore?
It does, right? The clarity, the perspective and the lens that you see things from is different. It’s better, yeah? I know I might think that sometimes, but that’s not what I’m getting at. Not at all. What I’m getting at is the benefit of working every day in this industry and the learning you get from it. I no doubt take it for granted on a daily basis, but the joy I get from being able to share what I’m learning with people who ask is very gratifying. People want to grab lunch, a coffee or a beer and ask questions. Family gatherings have turned into full blown debates about cannabis and any time I can offer something new, a perspective that helps or clear the air on something, it just feels good.
Can you imagine telling your teenage self we’d be having this conversation one day? I’ve been working in the cannabis space for almost three years now and every once and a while I leave a meeting scratching my head in amazement at the conversation I just had. Which device is best for hash? Can I control the high? What’s the best temperature for this weed? Yep—real conversations at work, not after work. I’m getting paid to have these conversations! Perhaps I’ll get over it someday. But right now I’m still very grateful and happy to be here. I think we should all be.
Yep, it’s a new federally legal cannabis world and it can be all too easy for us to focus on how this very young industry could be doing better. Let’s not forget how far we’ve come. Adolescence is a long way off and with so much work to be done, let’s remember how lucky we are to be the parents.