The Windsor Independent – Jon Liedtke
Nov. 30, 2015
The times are changing: will the government be able to keep up?
Cities coast to coast are seeing cannabis vapour lounges, dispensaries, and advocacy agencies entering the market, some operating in a legal grey zone.
A result of slowly changing cannabis laws, combined with a less-than-meaningful enforcement regime, have to come to suggest these new entrepreneurial activities have received less than tacit approval.
“I opened in 2000; it’s a 15 year old clientele,” said Abi Roach who owns HotBox Cafe in Toronto, the longest operating vapour lounge in North America. “The laws are changing finally, I feel pretty good, like everything we fought and worked for … is now coming to fruition.”
Her business is legit and legal in every sense: she pays taxes, has a business license and even sits on neighbourhood and community boards.
“The number one question is ‘do you sell weed’? and the number two question is ‘how do you get away with this?’ and I always say I don’t, and I’m a really nice person … if it wasn’t me, I don’t think it would have lasted as long as it did.”
Roach is opening a dispensary and plans to keep both businesses separate: the vapour lounge is recreational, and the dispensary will be grey market medical. “They are two different types of businesses. [The vapour lounge] is open to any and everybody over the age of 18 … but with the dispensary, it’s medical, so we have to keep it separate.”
But it’s not just vapour lounges and dispensaries that are seeking to capitalize on the emerging cannabis trend. Traditional and digital publishing is seeking to jump on the ever growing bandwagon.
Derek Riedle of Civilized, a digital publishing company specializing in cannabis content sees his publication as poised for success as it sits at the “intersection of two of the fastest growing industries in north america … publishing and cannabis.
Civilized is seeking to change the discourse from the “typical stoner” to a more representative clientele: regular people, including doctors, lawyers, professionals, musicians, etc, who all consume cannabis.
“… for the more discerning consumer …. our readers are going to come from all walks of life … there are millions of people around the world who don’t define themselves by cannabis, but they choose to enjoy it recreationally … this is a community that exists but nobody is talking to.”
“It’s not always the slacker on the couch, there are a lot of motivated, productive individuals who choose to enjoy this recreationally, and we’re going to be talking to them in an elevated manner.”
Jon Liedtke was a co-owner and business development manager for The Windsor Independent.