What is a stoner you say?
A stoner: a person who regularly takes drugs, especially cannabis.
The mention of cannabis used to conjure up a stereotypical image of someone monging out on the sofa smoking and watching every episode of The Sopranos in a day.
Whilst this definitely still happens, stoner stereotypes are being knocked back and people are talking openly about the place cannabis/weed has in their lives. As the market continues to grow, people (especially women) are shifting perceptions of the drug and its users.
On 17th October 2018 Canada will become the largest (and only second) country in the world to legalise the production and sale of cannabis nationally. With no more countries currently considering legalising the non-medicinal use of cannabis, this could be the stepping stone for the world to move forward and change the global debate on drug policy.
What’s the science behind it?
Cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. Investigation of the plants pharmacology has led to the discovery of the body’s endocannabinoid system. Our body creates its own endogenous cannabinoids which work on the systems receptors, but cannabis works on these receptors for added effect. The endocannabinoid system links to GABA, opioid and monoamine neurotransmitters which include dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline.
Scientific research shows cannabis can help with an array of diseases such as epilepsy, neurodegenerative disorders, osteoporosis, anorexia and cancer. The effects for some of these illnesses is remarkable also. Multiple case studies tell of people and children with rare conditions meaning they suffer with thousands of seizures a year, who then take cannabis and seizures are reduced to just a handful a year.
So why the hell did they ban it?
Due to marijuana’s psychoactive affect, the plant was banned decades ago, when many people didn’t even know of its existence. As with a lot of things, there can be negative consequences when overused, such as social anxiety, loss of drive and an increased risk of schizophrenia due to abuse.
However legalising cannabis and further education around its use means that increased research can be conducted as well as regulation, so people would have more option to avoid the very potent cannabis strains and use it in a way that made them feel good.
But how will it work?
As of Wednesday, Canadians will be able to buy cannabis and cannabis oil grown by licensed producers at various dispensers. Canadians across the country will also be able to order the drug online from federally licensed producers, and grow up to four plants at home. Adults will be able to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public.
Edibles, or cannabis-infused foods are not quite available for purchased yet, but will be within the next year.
Federally the legal age to buy and consume marijuana has been set at 18, but some provinces have chosen to set it at 19. Provinces are also in charge of how it is sold and where it can be smoked. It will still remain illegal to possess more than 30 grams of cannabis in public, and grow more than four plants per household or to buy from an unlicensed dealer.
What is the law in other countries?
Cannabis is banned in most countries but a number of places have decriminalised its use in recent years. Uruguay became the first country to legalise the sale of cannabis for recreational use in December 2013.
In the US cannabis legalisation varies from state to state, with just nine having some form of recreational legalization; Alaksa, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
The UK government even announced 4 days ago that patients can be prescribed medicinal cannabis by specialist doctors from 1 November 2018.
What does this mean for industries such as alcohol?
According to investment bank RBC capital markets, cannabis sales could very quickly eclipse beer and wine sales.
It seems that everyone wants a bit of the action, even alcohol brands. In August, Constellation Brands, make of Corona and one of the world biggest drinks companies invested £3bn into Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth and has begun developing a range of cannabis infused drinks. Molson Coors, make or Coors Light, has also started brewing cannabis flavoured beer.
Google and Amazon are missing from the game, google prohibits cannabis businesses from advertising on its platform and amazon isn’t selling weed despite its pharmacy plays. Logistically it would be impossible to make sure it didn’t land in any of its US distribution centres – this makes opportunity for smaller businesses to thrive.
Here are some of the coolest companies challenging the stoner stereotype –
Leaflink is essentially ebay for cannabis. It’s an online marketplace which was founded in 2015 and connects more than 600 cannabis brands with more than 2000 dispensaries and retailers. It’s destined to do pretty well, having already raised £7.7million from a number of funds including Snoop Dogg’s cannabis focused venture firm casa verde capital and UK based Nosara Capital.
Goldleaf is an absolutely wicked company! Created by Charles McElroy, after he started using journals to track his own medicinal cannabis regime. This is one of the startups educating the consumer on cannabis.
It creates highly usable and thoughtful printed supplies for the cannabis community. It’s motivated by the idea of empowering medical patients and enthusiasts by offering functional and educational materials.
Their journals focus on a clean design and science-forward content to make each item approachable, informative and highly unique.
He’s also created handful of jobs within the state, and with Ohio voting soon as to whether to legalise cannabis for recreational use, we’ll see how much of an impact he’s had on the community.
A magazine created by and for women who love cannabis. The idea came from visiting cannabis dispensaries and seeing stacks of free magazine, all for men. She saw an opportunity to make womens voices heard whilst the industry is still being built. By working with brand partners she’s also made the magazine free to buy anywhere in the world, plus shipping costs. Editor in Chief, Anja Charbonneau says “Our purpose is to normalise cannabis by discussing it through the lens of art, fashion, and culture. ”
Recreational cannabis use in Canada became legal today, and there’s some pretty cool places and people making the most of this newly legalised industry.
This is Tokyo Smoke, one of Toronto’s new weed dispensaries and coffee shop. It’s so sleek that you can see why customers take a while to realise it’s actually a weed shop! It’s places like this that are redefining our perception of stoner stereotypes.
Not only is it just a shop, it hosts it’s own movie nights, 4/20 events and even comedy nights. It even has it’s own website called cannabis101, which aims to educate people on understanding your own cannabis journey and tolerance, it’s kinda cool!
Cannabis Cooking Co
Toronto’s first cannabis infused cooking class experience, launching this week with a herbal halloween class, winter warm up and cannabis classics! They also have a blog with loads of cannabis recipes which is pretty cool, check them out here.
Upmarket cannabis dispensary based in Toronto as well, you can purchased products from grinders to bongs to the actual plant itself. It also has a really cool blog, which further show how this new marketplace is trying to educate people at the same time – which is really important – check it out!
These are just three of the 100 businesses serving the cannabis industry that have opened in Toronto since the drug became medically legal in 2013. There are roughly 150 new dispensaries opening in Ontario, and local college, Durham, is even introducing a two-day, introductory-level course is designed specifically for those who are interested in pursuing a career in the rapidly expanding Canadian medical cannabis industry.
Canada has started a very interesting conversation which will hopefully start paving the way to changing global drug policy.