Cannabis ad­vo­cates weigh in

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - D.C. FRASER dfraser@post­ Twit­

Darin Wheat­ley is a long­time cannabis ad­vo­cate who is bit­ter­sweet about le­gal­iza­tion oc­cur­ring on Oct. 17.

He is the owner of Whole Leaf Heal­ing Tree Hy­dro­pon­ics Equip­ment and Sup­plies, lo­cated on Lorne Street just north of 8th Av­enue in Regina. He has more than 30 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in gar­den­ing and cul­ti­vat­ing cannabis, help­ing hun­dreds grow mar­i­juana along the way.

Dur­ing that time he has also firmly en­trenched him­self in cannabis cul­ture: he’s com­peted in (and won) sev­eral cannabis grow­ing com­pe­ti­tions, and peo­ple travel from around the province to seek his guid­ance at his store.

On Thurs­day af­ter­noon this week, he spoke at length and in de­tail with a cannabis grower about the in­tri­ca­cies of the craft: it is clear he is an ex­pert in what he does.

With le­gal­iza­tion on the hori­zon, Wheat­ley has mixed — but mostly neg­a­tive — feel­ings.

“There has al­ready ex­isted a cannabis cul­ture in the coun­try for like, many years al­ready,” he says.

Wheat­ley likes to fo­cus on ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple through grow­ing classes or work­shops, some­thing he has done for many years — adding to his frus­tra­tion over the way the in­dus­try is go­ing with le­gal­iza­tion.

“There is all this greed and money, and it’s a real con­trol fac­tor. It’s re­ally hard, be­ing in the in­dus­try for all these years, to watch these big guys scoop in with all this money and just kind of take ev­ery­thing over, when the true pi­o­neers, the real peo­ple, have fought so hard for this and worked so hard for this,” he says. “A lot of us feel we’re left in the dust. As much as we’re fight­ing for cannabis le­gal­iza­tion, which comes with a lot of rules and reg­u­la­tions, ul­ti­mately what we’re fight­ing for is cannabis free­dom or lib­er­a­tion.”


He likens the cur­rent regime to “cannabis apartheid.”

“This is a way of life, it’s a cul­ture and it’s hard to have some­one else tell you how to live your life and how to live your cul­ture, cause we’ve been do­ing it for 30, 40 years, some guys longer,” he says. “As much as a guy wants to see this plant free and avail­able for ev­ery­body, and the heal­ing of na­tions and it crosses re­li­gious and eth­nic bar­ri­ers, it is a real free­dom and it can be that. But with all the con­trol and greed in­volved, we see that dis­ap­pear­ing.”

He rec­og­nizes cannabis is a com­mod­ity be­ing traded on the stock mar­ket, but doubts the black mar­ket will dis­ap­pear once le­gal­iza­tion sets in, and ques­tions the moral au­thor­ity of gov­ern­ments be­ing able to pun­ish those who don’t play by the new set of rules.

“How are they go­ing to grow foot­ball fields of weed across this coun­try and sell it through Sask Liquor and Gam­ing, or some other gov­ern­ment thing, and still ar­rest peo­ple for grow­ing a few too many plants, or hav­ing some pot on them that doesn’t have a coloured sticker on it? How are they go­ing to ar­rest peo­ple when they’re grow­ing weed across this coun­try?”

“I don’t know how they can sweep in on a cul­ture and tell them this is the way it is, and then en­force that,” he says.

Wheat­ley’s own busi­ness has been af­fected over the years by changes to cannabis laws, and he rec­og­nizes he may see more cus­tomers as peo­ple try to grow cannabis in their own homes, but he is still un­happy with what he has seen so far of the le­gal­iza­tion process.

“It’s hard to say where this whole thing is go­ing to lead,” he says.

A “com­pas­sion grower” who wanted to stay anony­mous to avoid le­gal reper­cus­sions says he, too, is bit­ter­sweet over le­gal­iza­tion. He ad­mits he is “go­ing to lose so much money ” but does not con­sider that a ma­jor con­cern — be­cause he says he never grew cannabis to make money.

“I can tell you def­i­nitely, and it’s prob­a­bly just be­cause I’m not a good drug dealer, man, but I’ve def­i­nitely in 20 years never got­ten rich, be­ing a guy who grows pot and then just hands it out,” he said.

In­stead, he has spent the past 20 years grow­ing mar­i­juana for peo­ple who needed it for health rea­sons. He de­scribes him­self as “some­body who has that knowl­edge and lit­er­ally just wants to help some­body get the medicine they need.”

He’s wor­ried that le­gal­iza­tion will turn cannabis grow­ing into a big busi­ness, and that peo­ple who came to him for help will in­stead turn to re­tail shops to pur­chase cannabis.

But he is happy to no longer be liv­ing a dou­ble life, “scared to carry a bag of dirt” into his house be­cause “no­body cares about it now” if he is grow­ing in his home.


Darin Wheat­ley, owner of Whole Leaf Hy­dro­pon­ics, doubts the black mar­ket will dis­ap­pear once le­gal­iza­tion sets in.


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