Legalization disheartens longtime pot champion
REGINA Darin Wheatley is a longtime pot advocate who is bittersweet about legalization 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 cultivating cannabis and 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.
Earlier this week, he spoke at length about the intricacies of the craft.
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.
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 and questions the moral authority of governments being able to punish those who don’t play by the new 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.
Darin Wheatley, owner of Whole Leaf Hydroponics, doubts the black market will disappear once legalization sets in.