Cannabis Expo lights up the unenlightened

The stigma around marijuana is changing.

Sure, some politicians still have no functional grasp of the subject of pot. Before voting on Canada’s Cannabis Act last week, Senator Nicole Eaton said that “five grams is about four tokes.” But the marijuana community isn’t allowing ignorance to stop them. In fact, it is emboldening them to trudge forward in hopes of educating the unenlightened.

The annual Hempfest Cannabis Expo at the Shaw Conference Centre this weekend is drawing an ever evolving conglomerate of pot enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and educators. Yes, there’s still the dreadlocked bongsmith demographic (thankfully), but with the legalized weed on the horizon, the face of the cannabis scene is taking a different form – especially when it comes to informing those that don’t know much about the herb.

Education was a hot topic at the festival, which continues through Sunday. Mark Lindal, cannabis counselor and medical outreach educator at Canadian Cannabis Clinics, stepped in with an empathetic perspective for politicians and lawmakers: “It puts them in a tough spot because they have to ramp up their game very quickly in a short amount of time.”

His suggestion on how to get to the head of the class when it comes to marijuana?

“They should try it,” he said. “There is very little to lose and no risk in trying it. Especially when it is a chemical that is not harmful to the body. You can’t overdose, there is no possibility of death. Give it a shot. See how it makes you feel. And connect with people who are educated and understand the product completely.”

Hart Steinfeld, who does community engagement for Hydropothecary (a Health Canada-approved licensed producer of medical marijuana out of Quebec), echoes Lindal’s sentiment.

“I’ve heard other ludicrous things from other senators as well. They really have to sit down and educate themselves,” Steinfeld said.

To those not fully in the know, there are a lot of comparisons between pot and alcohol, and from Steinfeld’s perspective, those comparisons are unfair.

“In my opinion, and science backs it up, marijuana is more safe than alcohol,” he said. “So I really think there is a lot of hypocrisy going on there. Smarten up. Don’t base your ideas on hearsay from others. Sit down and do some research.”

The pot scene is doing its best to de-stigmatize itself. What was once underground is becoming mainstream with the Cannabis Act. Be it recreational, medicinal, or industrial, the masses are starting to embrace safe and legal weed consumption – or at least they’re becoming more curious about it.

Now in its second year with events across Western Canada, Hempfest is growing from just being a bong and weed culture wholesale market – although there are some pretty rip ass bongs for sale. The science community is represented in full as the Expo scheduled a series of informative speakers, emceed by Edmonton cannabis activist Ken “Dr. Reefer” Kirk (right).

First off the bat was Jodi McDonald (top photo), president of Keystone Labs, a Health Canada-accredited marijuana testing facility. As per her expertise (her bio states that she lives to test weed), she talked about the importance of knowing what you are taking.

“The whole purpose of Health Canada regulating marijuana is to provide safe products for patients to use,” said McDonald. “When we test at Keystone, we looking for potency as well as the absence of certain contaminants.”

This high level of testing, according to McDonald, keeps Canadians safe.

This cultural changeover seems like a breath of fresh of fresh air to those who are working the Hemp-Con, and getting a sense from the vendors, it’s been a long time coming. According to Hasia Glaim (co-owner of MMJ Total Health Care), marijuana has been on the planet longer than humans and it’s time for people to understand the benefits that far outlast the stigmatized “high.”

“There are so many benefits to the plant that the senate doesn’t even know about,” she said. “They are really doing a disservice to Canadians by not knowing what they are talking about. There are so many factors with different types of ingestion. Every single person’s endocannabinoid system is different. We really encourage microdosing in order to find your comfort zone. Cannabis should be invigorating, not debilitating.”

Glaim went on to say that her company has treated people with many types of debilitating diseases with great success. “I have seen walking miracles. You can’t ignore that. I don’t care what other people say. I will stand firm in what I believe and I will continue to educate people.”

There was an overlying sense of pride at Hempfest. There was the feeling of hope, as if someone was casting off a mask. There is money to be made, legal and safe. Sure, you can still buy your glass pipes and your wacky rolling papers, but you can also get to understand more about an underground culture that will be bursting into legitimacy. Yes, there will be many growing pains, some first time users driving high, getting carried away in public, falling asleep in movies – but the sense of the overall positive upside was palatable.

Who knows? Maybe in the next few years – if our senate isn’t abolished – the senators will be a bit more enlightened. Instead of antiquated falsehoods, they will be spouting more “dudes”, “mans,” and the ubiquitous “far outs!” At least the senate voted to pass the Cannabis Act last week, 44-29. That’s a start.


2 Responses to Cannabis Expo lights up the unenlightened

  1. James Tripp

    March 25, 2018 at 10:46 AM

    Cannabis has been ignored as the potent medicine it truly is due to the pharmaceutical industry’s failure to successfully isolate and synthesize any successful cannabinoid compounds; They have ignored the synergy and entourage effects of the complex of over 100 Cannabinoids and 100s of terpenes in the Cannabis plant due to the industry wide fixation on the current ‘Isolate, target, and Patent for Profit’ system of pharmaceutical research.

    There is an Institutionalized Pervasive Negative Bias against all forms of Cannabis Use that is rampant in virtually all institutions that form the structure of our society and those who populate those agencies are institutionalized to think ideologically and only in terms of addiction and harm reduction, crime and punishment, Patent and Profit…; In the case of Cannabis they are completely ignoring the abundance of positive heath benefits that the various forms of Whole Plant Cannabinoid Therapy could provide a multitude of Canadians, all because it conflicts with their established ideological mentality or they could not profit.

    Our Medical Institutions, and the professionals within them that make up part of our society, have been either complicit, or at the very least, had blind faith in the claims of the Pharmaceutical industry while simultaneously ignoring the abundance of scientific studies, and evidence, indicating Cannabinoids have multiple health care applications from treating depression, to curing Cancer (Cannabinoids kill cancer cells via apoptosis and anti-angiogenesis. Know since 1974), to preventing and treating Alzheimer’s.

    They ignore the positives of medicinal cannabis and continue to perpetuate the same false narrative that ‘Cannabis is inherently dangerous’, that has perpetuated for decades with essentially no valid foundation in scientific reality; I believe they do this because they would first have to admit that Cannabis works as a treatment for many Human Ailments; Second they would have to admit they do not know how it works, that Cannabinoids should have been intensely studied for at least 5 decades, if not more, and they would essentially have to admit that not only they, but society as a whole, has completely failed on the issue of cannabis and Public Health.

    Until our Governments, Our Public Institutions, Our Medical professionals and the institutions they represent, Our Law Enforcement Agencies, and society in general, abandon the decades of misinformation and misunderstanding on how the phytocannabinoids in the cannabis plant interact with the Human Endocannabinoid System, we will continue to spend more resources on unnecessary legislation and continued delays instead of implementing proper legislation providing access to the vast medicinal potential of this very safe and effective medicinal plant and health supplement.

  2. Kenneth Leonard "Doctor Reefer" Kirk

    March 27, 2018 at 1:24 AM

    Being an epileptic who uses pot to control seizures and a 30 year cannabis activist it’s absolutely wonderful to see a event like this even be happening at all. I was kind of in shock after legalization was announced, I was still stuck in prohibition mode mentally and for some reason it took me a while to change gears towards working on and helping to grow the new industry that pot activists from the street to the lab helped to create the opportunity for. Standing on the stage looking out at the crowd of normal folk of all ages checking out all the displays, products and opportunities really brought it home to me how far we’d come. Cannabis Expo was a far cry from standing on a picnic table in a park with a bullhorn megaphone back & dodging cops trying to bust us for roaches back in the old days. I’d never been so proud and honored to be Alberta Marijuana Party Leader as I was this weekend at Cannabis Expo, it even beat the election night 17 years ago I helped about 2% of the people of Edmonton Strathcona to “throw away” their vote for me and the weed I need.