The Windsor Independent
June 15, 2016
With legalization legislation coming early 2017, now, more than ever, the cannabis community and industry need to join forces and work together, yet remain divided
Justin Trudeau is legalizing cannabis, but that doesn’t mean we can relax, take a hit, and simply wait for the good times while we roll another one. In fact, if the cannabis community stops pressing for real change, we’re going to find that legalization looks a lot like prohibition; and it won’t be because of Ottawa.
It’s great that Canada, under Trudeau, will chart a cannabis course forward with the eyes of the world watching, but there are multiple attacks on the cannabis community and industry throughout different jurisdictions across the country.
In Ontario alone in the last three months, the Toronto Police Service executed Project Claudia in an effort to stop the proliferation of cannabis businesses, the City of Windsor has banned smoking and vaping of cannabis in all parks, and the province is banning smoking and vaping of medical marijuana anywhere cigarettes and e-cigarettes are banned.
It’s in times like these that the cannabis community and industry needs to rally together, because these attacks won’t stop.
But instead of working together, there is infighting: certain cannabis businesses are attacking others for being illegitimate, activists are attacking each other over which tactics are employed, licensed producers of medical marijuana allegedly lobbied for the Toronto raids, and many medical and recreational users are attacking the licensed producers because they currently exist as a legal monopoly.
And while all of this fighting is occurring, laws are being passed and cannabis rights are being attacked and diminished across the country.
The Lift Cannabis Expo in Toronto seemed like it had the potential to be the start of a unification of the cannabis community and industry. It was marketed as the “nexus of Canada’s unique medical program and forward-thinking cannabis culture”; or in non-press release language, it was for medical and recreational users.
Exhibitors from North America and Europe signed up to attend Lift, including licensed producers of medical marijuana, dispensaries, edible producers, extract companies, and suppliers. But, then the raids happened and the expo essentially turned into a cannabis trade show as the dispensaries, edibles, and extract companies were told they couldn’t exhibit their products on-site due to their illegal nature (though it wasn’t an issue when they signed up for the event).
So instead of serving as a lighting rod for unity, Lift exposed the existing divisions and gave a platform to protesters against the corporate side of cannabis, with protesters outside and inside: I witnessed one man berating a representative from a licensed producer as if the company employee single handedly lobbied the Toronto police to launch the crackdown.
“Hate the game, not the player,” I said to the man, trying to initiate a conversation about the urgent need for unity.
His response: “You don’t even fucking smoke weed… Fuck you.”
It’s well past time for fighting and the time is now for the cannabis community and the cannabis industry to unite against government overreach.
Until legalization, those who truly care about cannabis need to look past the divisions which exist among one another and work together. After that, start fighting again if that’s what you want, but I don’t see the benefit.
Jon Liedtke is a medical marijuana user, authorized under the MMAR and permitted use through the current injunction, the co-owner of Higher Limits, Canada’s largest cannabis lounge, and a director of the Canadian Cannabis Confederation, an organization actively seeking to bridge the gap between the cannabis industry, cannabis community, and the public at large, including government and media.
A JOINT EFFORT
June 16, 2016
Jon Liedtke was a co-owner and business development manager for The Windsor Independent.