Cannabis cul­ture

Grow­ing craft weed scene is bring­ing ston­ers out of the closet

NOW Magazine - - CONTENTS - By KATE ROBERT­SON news@now­toronto.com | @now­toronto

Closet ston­ers are com­ing out to ex­pe­ri­ence cannabis cul­ture – and sam­ple cannabis-in­fused prod­ucts– along­side tourists and new­bies alike at Kens­ing­ton Mar­ket pop-up so­cial club Mer­cado Li­bre this sum­mer.

The pop-up hosted its fi­nal so­cial this past week­end. Ap­prox­i­mately 500 peo­ple floated through the event I at­tended ear­lier in the month, hosted by Bloom High Tea So­cial Club, founded by Ta­nia Cyalume and Lisa Camp­bell.

Rain forced ven­dors in­doors to the swel­ter­ing Hip Pop Art gallery. But a full slate of DJs, very en­thu­si­as­tic ven­dors and cu­ri­ous pub­lic meant it was hot and crowded.

Camp­bell and Cyalume were in­spired to com­bine Toronto’s rich weed lounge cul­ture with a cannabis mar­ket after vis­it­ing cannabis so­cial clubs in Barcelona, Spain (which, with its mas­sive an­nual Spannabis con­fer­ence, ap­pears to have re­placed Amsterdam as Europe’s epi­cen­tre of pot). There, the city li­censes mem­bers-only or­ga­ni­za­tions to pro­duce and sell cannabis prod­ucts on­site, to be used so­cially – like in front of ev­ery­body.

“It’s kind of a com­bi­na­tion be­tween a lounge and a dis­pen­sary. And it’s all rec,” Camp­bell says, ex­plain­ing that un­like Canada, in Spain, so­cial clubs are not about ac­cess to medicine – they’re about fun.

“It’s not nec­es­sar­ily about your right to med­i­cate. It’s about your right to en­joy the plant as a part of your cul­ture.”

Camp­bell’s Green Mar­ket pop-up is on hia­tus un­til Labour Day, but their net­work of ven­dors – Alair Va­por­iz­ers, Mary Jane’s Touch top­i­cals, the Baker’s Shop and Can­naLove ed­i­bles – are all here.

As a group, Camp­bell says, they chal­lenged them­selves to de­velop cannabis drinks for the sum­mer season, so ev­ery­thing from mar­i­juana-in­fused laven­der lemonade, kom­bucha, nat­u­rally flavoured fruity so­das and pow­dered iced tea are on of­fer.

But there are a lot of new ven­dors, too, and some sell­ing straight-up ganja in beau­ti­ful branded jars in all shapes and colours. No Zi­plocs here.

I guz­zled back a gourmet cannabis rasp­berry-peach soda, to get a sense of what it’s like to hang out and get semi-stoned with strangers, some­thing that nor­mally sounds like unadul­ter­ated hell to ston­ers who’d rather keep the fact that they in­dulge to them­selves.

But in the Kens­ing­ton Mar­ket set­ting among re­laxed, friendly faces, it wasn’t so dif­fi­cult to ex­pe­ri­ence what post-le­gal­iza­tion cannabis cul­ture could look like.

To be sure, the city’s cannabis scene is chang­ing and at­tract­ing more at­ten­tion from in­side and out­side Canada, ever since last spring’s highly-pub­li­cized po­lice raids on store­front dis­pen­saries.

“Toronto wasn’t known as a city that was cannabis cul­ture-fo­cused,” Camp­bell says. “But now I have so many friends from all over the world who are cannabis en­thu­si­asts who are vis­it­ing Toronto –not Van­cou­ver – to ex­pe­ri­ence cannabis cul­ture.”

That means ex­tra re­spon­si­bil­ity, adds Camp­bell, “to make sure that what we cre­ate in Toronto will have a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on the rest of Canada. Be­cause if it’s just gov­ern­ment stores, that’s go­ing to in­flu­ence other prov­inces. So, yeah, in­ter­est­ing times.”

Gourmet cannabis-in­fused soda: per­fect for get­ting semi-stoned with strangers.

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