Weed Coast: My Wish List for a Sensible Cannabis Future

"We must continue to nurture that incredible ideological heritage by acknowledging those that came before, and by granting amnesty to those who dedicated their lives to the emancipation of the plant."

October 16, 2018

By Sujinder Juneja / Photo: Louis Hansel on Unsplash

To say that I’m personally excited about what the future of legalized cannabis might look like is an understatement. Career-wise, I’ve always followed my passions. My first career was in the music industry, before later transitioning to wine, spirits and hospitality, until I finally moved into the wonderful world of weed a year or so ago. And it’s within this endlessly fascinating industry that I intend to stay.

The current state of cannabis legalization is far from perfect and to be sure, there will be years, if not decades of slow and steady growth to come, socially, legislatively, culturally and economically. Many of us in the industry, myself included, are holding out for brighter days, when the healthful benefits of this amazing plant will finally be shared and appreciated by all. Legalization re-opens the public coffers to investigation and education that will help to de-stigmatize a powerful plant (it is just a plant, after all) that holds the promise of healing within its delicate flowers.

A few months back, I started writing a “wish list” of what balanced legalization might look like. Here are just three of those thoughts, predictions, and hopes for a sensible future.

Honouring the True Legacy of B.C. Bud

Within Canada, legalization is perhaps most significant to the people of our province, whose citizens and members of industry are among the most discerning, intelligent and progressive cannabis advocates in the world. Indeed, the phrase “B.C. Bud” is one that celebrates our province’s rich legacy of cultivation, while championing industry innovation, relative legislative progress, and most importantly, fiery grassroots activism.

I’ve been lucky enough to purchase and enjoy selections grown by numerous small-scale family farmers who in some cases produce just one strain, perhaps grown initially for the purpose of helping friends or family members who suffer from a specific health or medical condition.

History shows that conscientious war objectors from the U.S. migrated here in the ’60s and ’70s, bringing with them the literal roots of our industry, infused with a spirit that holistically embraces people, plants, and peace. We must continue to nurture that incredible ideological heritage by acknowledging those that came before, and by granting amnesty to those who dedicated their lives to the emancipation of the plant.

Celebrate our Craft

There are some that suggest that, at least in the short term, legislation is working only in favour of corporate charlatans who came from outside our industry, those who invested in cannabis purely for their own financial gain. But what about the farmers, the healers and the stewards of small agricultural crops who continue to produce the best quality cannabis, despite many legal and logistical hurdles? It is those people and products that we must protect wherever possible.

I’ve been lucky enough to purchase and enjoy selections grown by numerous small-scale family farmers who in some cases produce just one strain, perhaps grown initially for the purpose of helping friends or family members who suffer from a specific health or medical condition. There are also many other craft growers who after years of dedication, just know how to grow incredible weed, gorgeously aromatic, with purity, potency and provenance. We can’t afford to lose them. Sure, it’s inevitable that the majority of products that will first come to the legal market may be from industrial-sized mega producers—the Budweisers of… uh… bud, perhaps. Nevertheless, we need to work together with government and industry to find ways to facilitate a reasonable entry to market for small business and growers by eliminating the fiscal and bureaucratic barriers that will deny them of an honest living and force their products further underground.

Driving High: No Excuse, My Friends

I was at an otherwise inspiring cannabis trade gathering recently where I observed a number of noted industry veterans and advocates sharing their thoughts about driving under the influence. I was shocked and dismayed (read: vibrating with fury) when I overheard a couple of them display cavalier attitudes towards cannabis and driving, suggesting that those that had smoked pot for decades knew what they were doing behind the wheel. In my opinion, this is irresponsible and nearly unforgivable.

Yes, I agree that the testing methods for cannabis impairment are famously flawed. Yes, I agree that cannabis doesn’t affect everyone the same way, even if two people consume equal amounts of the same product. And yes, I think that drinking or using prescription drugs before driving is equally abhorrent. For a number of reasons, I consume cannabis nearly every day, and have done so for the past several years. And even though I tend to favour products on the high-CBD (more than four percent), low-THC (usually no more than 10 or 11 percent) spectrum, I do know one thing for sure: when I consume cannabis, I am not fit to drive. My concentration, reaction time and ability to focus are impaired, pure and simple. And I care far too much about myself, my family, my community, and quite frankly, even the vaunted reputation of those industry vets to stay silent on the subject.

Cannabis industry take note: it is your duty to act as responsible role models by never advocating anything less than zero tolerance towards driving after consuming cannabis. We will all thank you for it.

Get the Newsletter

Own your city with Vancouver’s thrice-weekly scoop on the latest restaurant news, must-shop hotspots and can’t miss events. Rest assured your email is safe with us.