One year ago today, Warmland celebrated its official launch with a grand opening event featuring activists Ted Smith and Owen Smith, along with constitutional lawyer Kirk Tousaw. The trio discussed cannabis and the law [part 1, part 2], during a time when Stephen Harper was in power and legalization still seemed like a pipe dream. Harper’s Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, had recently declared war on the “marijuana storefronts” that “form part of Justin Trudeau’s plan to make smoking marijuana a normal, everyday activity and make it available in stores across Canada.” However, despite her disappointment in the City of Vancouver and outrage at the pesky Supreme Court [don’t miss Owen Smith’s outrage remix] dispensaries continued to open and everyone looked to the election.
Country on the Verge
Fast forward one year and we find the country on the verge of legalization, with all the associated growing pains. People can apply to grow their own cannabis again (thanks to yet another court decision). Meanwhile, Health Canada continues to grant licenses for massive grow facilities, random arrests continue, and the fight over the tax spoils has already begun. Corporations are eager to line their pockets – Shopper’s Drug Mart, Loblaw’s… even Canada Post can’t wait to cash in. Dispensaries are suddenly everywhere, with some being licensed (primarily in BC) and others being raided (primarily in Ontario). It’s such a confusing time that judges are mocking the ridiculous laws, some police are seeking legal advice and others are evening opening their own dispensaries.
BC continues to lead the way, which isn’t surprising considering that cannabis has long been the province’s second largest industry. In 2008, BC Business Magazine reported the provincial marijuana industry to be worth $7.5-billion, with a labour force of over 250,000. There are hundreds of dispensaries across BC now, with Victoria and Nelson competing for the most per capita. The provincial capital is set to begin licensing retail cannabis shops, and it even boasts a cannabis mall. There has been a huge increase in the number of cannabis-based businesses as more and more people “come out of the shadows” and take pride in producing craft cannabis products. It would serve the country well if members of the Liberal government’s new “Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation” would schedule a trip to Vancouver Island and tour vapour lounges like the Green Ceiling, meet with craft cannabis growers like House of the Great Gardener, and stop by retail shops like Warmland.
At Warmland, our membership has continued to grow since opening day. We have seen many members experience dramatic improvements in health, ranging from restful sleeps for the first time in years to relief from chronic pain (often while abandoning their opiate medications.) Our staff has gone from one (yours truly) to an awesome team with the addition of Lindsey, Ruby, Alicia, and Trina. We also hosted a number of events this past year, including the Vancouver Island chapter launch of Women Grow; the Christmas party for the South Cowichan Chamber of Commerce; and a popular Cannabis 101 seminar that will be repeated this fall. Warmland also organized and sponsored Fracking With Our Coast: The Malahat LNG Project, to raise community awareness of a massive fossil fuel facility planned for the Saanich Inlet.
Plans for the upcoming year include expanding our cannabis genetics offerings and launching the Museum of Cannabis History. More workshops and events are also in the works – be sure to join our mailing list for the latest updates. Thank you to all of our fantastic members, staff, suppliers, neighbours and community members who supported us this past year! Now let’s see what the next year brings… Here are a few videos hinting at where things could be headed.