A Renaissance of Elevated Proportions
When I first stumbled on the idea of comparing the resurgence of cannabis with the cultural Renaissance of antiquity (referred to as the Cultural Renaissance for the sake of this article), with it came an echo of ideas and sentiments from passing conversations with some of the thought and industry leaders in Canadian cannabis. One of these incredible people is Julie Chiariello, Editor of Skunk Magazine and Highway. Julie’s energy is often described as contagious, and her dedication to the cannabis community is nothing short of inspiring. The recollection of this and similar encounters quickly cemented and nurtured the seed of inspiration in my mind for The Green Renaissance, and it’s been growing ever since.
The most obvious parallel between the Cultural Renaissance of antiquity and the modern Green Renaissance has been the poignant role that this sacred plant has played in both eras. It was especially valuable in sustaining the colonial enterprise during the Cultural Renaissance, with everything from its fibers to its resin used in clothing and raw material for the rigging of sails to pain management, and even as a conduit to mediate the flow of creativity.
See, even our forefathers were ‘down’ with Mary Jane.
Fast forward to 2017 (which has been one helluva year, right?), where we are at this very moment experiencing a transformational cultural shift and the cannabis space is reaching a pinnacle of creativity. Thanks to the grassroots activism that pushed for the normalization of cannabis, the plant is slowly gaining ubiquity in our daily lives, breaking the stigma in the process.
As an entrepreneur, writer and consumer operating within this ‘green space’, “what a time to be alive” is something that I find myself saying rather often. The winds of change have been picking up momentum over the last year, thanks to the upcoming legalization in Canada. With that shift comes great responsibility, not only from our law and policymakers but from the community as a whole.
Those of us involved in the space have witnessed and experienced the benefits of peaceful activism, thanks to those who have time and again resisted the status of prohibition. Of course, depending on which province you call home, some have more lenient regulations than others. While the West Coast experience has been far more liberal than the East Coast, Federal regulations do not discriminate.
Despite all of this, Canadian cannabis brands, overall, are doing well for themselves but community support is vital. It takes a village to raise a child, and in this space, cannabis is no different. From cultivation to consumption, the importance of community support is seen in every stage of building a cannabis brand and keeping it alive.
Probably the best thing to come from this green renaissance ‘rebirth’, is how this revolution has created a space to present cannabis as a lifestyle.
Breaking the stigma is not as easy as breaking the internet. However, when you have a community of high-functioning cannabis consumers who are professionals of the industry and are working hard to shatter the misconceptions around what a ‘stoner’ looks like, it’s not hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Weed, The People
The green renaissance wouldn’t be possible without the people of the industry – the agents of change that have made this space what it is today. From producers and dispensary owners to health and wellness experts, diversity is embraced and well represented amongst the people in Canadian cannabis.
The activists and creators of the industry have been integral to the movement, and they have proven that calculated risk-taking can yield incredible benefits – particularly in the grey market. Just take the Prince and Princess of pot for example. Jodie Emery has been fighting pot prohibition since 2005, proving that you can both grow a business in the grey market and be a voice for the people simultaneously.
Women Grow is a network that was created to connect, inform, educate and inspire women in the cannabis space. The organization started out in the United States and has a chapter in Toronto – the only Canadian Chapter, mind you. Chairwoman Antuanette Gomez has been connecting Toronto’s diverse cannabis community, with a special focus on women of colour. Their empowering and inspiring networking events are growing every month, which is exciting to see.
Selling non-cannabis based products as a means to communicate change has been a great way for Eves of Eden creator Rachel Colic to add a dose of femininity to an otherwise bland smoke sesh. As a long time cannabis enthusiast, Rachel saw an opportunity to create a product that redefines what it means to be a woman who uses cannabis. One by one, Crowns are beautifying the medicating process. Who knew adding a crown to your pre-roll could be such an experience changer?
Sarah Hanlon is an outspoken cannabis advocate who writes for 24 Hour Mag in Toronto and was the winner of Big Brother Canada in Season 3. She engages with her large, dedicated following on Instagram role as a public figure and ambassador for Leafly. “We can’t wait until legalization to educate people on cannabis, the time is now!”
Cultivating a lifestyle free of stigma: how do you ‘come out’?
It’s been nothing short of impressive to watch these people flourish and build a name for themselves within the space, but what about those who are smoking in the shadows?
While some are perfectly OK smoking in secret, others have described their ‘outing’ experience as coming out of the closet. A TEDx talk by David Schmader did just that, where he described coming out as a stoner being similar to ‘coming out’ as gay both in the workplace and within his personal circle. Despite being the overachiever in the office, he still held reservations about his transparency of his extracurriculars, but also addressed how silly it is to peg all cannabis consumers as recreational. “The most exciting developments in medical marijuana involve strains that are incapable of making anyone high – ideal for those who want to medicate without a side of ‘stoned’ – like kids with seizure disorders.”
Experiences = Experimenting with Creativity
Building an online community yields exciting results, as we’ve seen with Canadian brand, Birch+Fog, whose platform offers consumers the option to create the experience they are seeking. Think of it as a “choose your own adventure” – except we’re replacing books with craft cannabis flower and a host of other incredible Canadian brands all in one place. Since their e-shop is structured so that visitors can shop by the experiences they seek, it helps to take out a lot of the guesswork.
If smoking isn’t your cup of tea (and yes, they have that too), their edibles section is fully loaded with tasty treats that will help you get to where you want to be.
Now, while seasoned cannabis enthusiasts are well aware of the formalities, newbies and the canna-curious are more likely to proceed with caution. Edibles are fun and delicious, but the difference between living the dream and ending up in an anxiety-ridden black hole can be as little as one bite. In order to avoid that, the Birch+Fog team have provided a simple graph to help you to gauge just how high of a dose would be best suited for you.
Bonus material: check out their informative Learn Page to see what info bits their team is cooking up!