Courtesy of Lift Magazine
The road to legalization has been long, winding, and fraught with roadblocks, potholes, and the occasional downed tree. In honour of Canada Day 150, the folks at Lift recently decided it was high time to revisit the adventure with a cross-Canada road map of landmarks and milestones, from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia.
The first stop in our virtual road-trip:
Sunshine Coast, BC
In 1969 the United States government started conscripting random Americans by draft lottery, forcing them overseas to fight in the Vietnam War. With anti-war sentiments running high, many of those random Americans opted instead to rebuke their conscription orders and to seek refuge in other countries.
The result for Canada was an influx of progressive thinkers, freshly influenced by the social movements of the ‘60s. Many settled along the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia and, like any rational person starting a new life incognito would, started growing massive amounts of weed.
It’s widely held that the proliferation of cannabis we enjoy today is owed largely to the draft dodgers who revolutionized the reefer farming industry in western Canada during the ‘70s, making the Sunshine Coast a perfect first stop on the pilgrimage.
As the cannabis scene in the late ‘90s shifted from an industrial boom to an outright sociopolitical movement, Victoria-based activist Ted Smith created the Hempology 101 Society and, through the society’s advocacy work, campaigned for legalization locally and nationally with countless rallies and the country’s first series of cannabis conventions. You can still swing by the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, started by Ted, at it’s current 826 Johnson St location.
You can’t write an article about the history of cannabis in Canada without mentioning Marc Emery. Emery was once one of the most important players in the cannabis ecosystem. His publications spread awareness, and his seed company brought cannabis to communities around the world that might not have otherwise had access, since at the time his was one of the only companies that would ship seeds to customers where cannabis was illegal. You can stop by Marc Emery’s Cannabis culture at 307 W Hastings St.
Another stop in Vancouver that mustn’t be missed is the BC Compassion Club Society, on Commercial Drive. The oldest and largest not-for-profit medical cannabis dispensary in Canada, the BCCCS celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
The last stop in BC, Kimberley, was the first city in Canada to officially issue a business license to a cannabis dispensary. In the summer of 2015, after amending city bylaws to allow for the business, the City of Kimberly issued a license for Tamarack Dispensaries and paved the way for cities like Vancouver and Victoria to follow suit.
Flin Flon, MB
In the early days of legal medical cannabis regulations, Health Canada contracted Prairie Plant Systems to grow millions of dollars worth of cannabis for recipients of the now-defunct MMAR program. The earliest form of what could be considered a licensed producer, Prairie Plant Systems filled an unused