Fu­ture of cannabis is now

The Prince George Citizen - - Opinion -

For a glimpse into the not-tood­is­tant fu­ture of how cannabis will be­come part of Cana­dian cul­ture and how en­trepreneurs will come up with in­creas­ingly cre­ative ways to at­tract cus­tomers, look no fur­ther than what’s hap­pen­ing in the states down south that have le­gal­ized or de­crim­i­nal­ized pot. A story in the Wash­ing­ton Post this week showed how quickly pot has gone main­stream.

In Northamp­ton, Mass., the city’s mayor – a 52-year-old Air Force vet­eran – was the first cus­tomer of that state’s le­gal recre­ational pot, putting his money down for a cho­co­late bar in­fused with THC.

On Fifth Av­enue in New York City, a dis­pen­sary has opened, mar­ket­ing it­self to its up­scale clien­tele as “the Bar­neys of weed.” In San Fran­sciso, one dis­pen­sary there looks like an elite ho­tel bar. In Wash­ing­ton, D.C., ad­ven­tur­ous food­ies are gath­er­ing for chef­pre­pared four-course meals where THC and CBC-in­fused dishes are on the menu.

These prod­ucts and con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ences aren’t to at­tract the kids but for dis­crim­i­nat­ing adults with money to spend.

These aren’t ev­ery­day in­dul­gers of the devil’s let­tuce but rather for those who wouldn’t be caught dead smok­ing the stuff and want to par­take in a classy and con­trolled way, much as they would over wine or a fine dram of Scotch.

And that’s just the recre­ational side. Droves of new cus­tomers are try­ing cannabis can­dies to help them get a deeper, most rest­ful night’s sleep. Oth­ers are scoop­ing up low-dose ed­i­bles to help with stress.

Balms, salves and bath soaks that soothe ev­ery­thing from the ache of arthri­tis to the suf­fer­ing of PMS cramps are finding ea­ger buy­ers.

Se­niors are a rapidly in­creas­ing seg­ment of the mar­ket.

Ac­cord­ing to sev­eral sources, who’d rather not fess up in pub­lic, the hot topic at Prince Ge­orge’s se­niors cen­tres is the grow­ing num­ber of glow­ing testimonials from mem­bers who tried a topi­cal CBD prod­uct to help var­i­ous pains and were thrilled with the re­sults.

“How do we get some?” some­one asks each time.

In the same way that groups of se­niors of­ten sit around swap­ping notes about their pre­scrip­tions med­i­ca­tions and what’s work­ing (or not) for them, they are now openly and cheer­fully of­fer­ing each other word-of-mouth re­views about THC and CBD prod­ucts.

Most of these prod­ucts ac­tu­ally re­main – wink, wink, nudge, nudge – il­le­gal. Ed­i­bles won’t be le­gal un­til next year, as var­i­ous lev­els of gov­ern­ments work on reg­u­la­tions around the pro­duc­tion and sell­ing of these prod­ucts.

As usual, the politi­cians are be­hind the peo­ple. Amer­i­cans and Cana­di­ans are em­brac­ing the op­por­tu­nity to try cannabis for a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent rea­sons and in a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent ways, par­tic­u­larly ones that don’t in­volve stinky smoke or the gross­ness of pass­ing around a com­mu­nal joint.

Not ev­ery­one is happy, of course.

The RCMP is rightly con­cerned about stoned drivers and kids and pets eat­ing pot candy and cho­co­late left out by ab­sent­minded adults. Al­though THC over­doses can’t di­rectly lead to death, tak­ing too much can pro­duce side ef­fects, from panic at­tacks and para­noia to con­fu­sion and hal­lu­ci­na­tions, that could lead to deadly ac­ci­dents, such as falls or strolls out onto busy road­ways. And that’s not in­clud­ing nau­sea, vom­it­ing, seizures, ac­cel­er­ated heart rates and chest pain that can ac­com­pany ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion. Ed­i­bles is a par­tic­u­lar con­cern be­cause there’s a de­lay be­fore the full ef­fects are felt – un­like when it’s smoked or vaped – lead­ing to a greater propen­sity for over­doses.

Doc­tors are wor­ried about long-term ef­fects, cit­ing the shock­ingly lit­tle amount of re­search on long-term ef­fects, es­pe­cially for cannabis con­sumed orally or top­i­cally. Up un­til very re­cently, it was dif­fi­cult to im­pos­si­ble for re­searchers to se­cure fund­ing for ex­ten­sive stud­ies with large sam­ple groups over ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time. Now, as var­i­ous news re­ports have noted, col­leges and univer­si­ties across North Amer­ica are in­vest­ing heav­ily in both re­search and spe­cial­ized in­dus­try train­ing. Kwantlen Polytech­nic Univer­sity in Van­cou­ver now of­fers var­i­ous work­shops and cer­tifi­cates in cannabis pro­duc­tion and sell­ing.

Mayor and coun­cil in Fort St. John will con­sider grant­ing a per­mit for the first le­gal cannabis store in their com­mu­nity Mon­day. Prince Ge­orge city coun­cil will have sim­i­lar ap­pli­ca­tions be­fore them for ap­proval early in the new year.

It’s un­likely we’ll see Lori Ackerman at the front of the line open­ing day in Fort St. John or Lyn Hall as the first cus­tomer when a le­gal Prince Ge­orge store opens for busi­ness some­time in 2019 but it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter. Their bless­ing is un­nec­es­sary.

Their con­stituents and the broader mar­ket­place have al­ready spo­ken.

— Ed­i­tor-in-chief Neil God­bout

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