By admin | March 2, 2017
Twenty two years ago, at the tender age of 25, I started to attend Hempology 101 meetings and was infected with a passion that has fueled me in a course that would change Canadian history. That passion brought me together with the most incredible woman I have ever met, a woman who died at home last fall after a long battle with cancer. Now my broken heart is too heavy to continue and I can look back on my career with great pride, having accomplished all of the goals that I set out to do, and much more, with few major setbacks and little jail time.
For many reason I feel extremely proud of the work I done over these past 2 decades. Indeed. I might be one of the most successful grassroots pioneers this soon to be legal multibillion dollar industry has seen and it is not from lack of success that I am stepping aside. If anything I am leaving while at the top of my field, with fame and potential fortune within my grasp.
Thankfully much of what I started will continue. Owen Smith will stay as the anchor of the Cannabis Digest, producing the design and website material, along with editor Judith Stamps and my dear friend Kristen Mann is temporarily taking over as publisher until a permanent one is found. At the VIctoria Cannabis Buyers Club, general manager Brandi Woods has a firm grasp of the organization, which will be blossoming this year as the final stages of licensing are completed. April 20 in Victoria is going to be organized by several people and I am not worrying about it and more than I am about the 420 circles at UVic.
Alas, it is clear to me that for my own personal health it is time to take a bow and leave the stage of public life, as the stress of this work combined with the profound sadness I feel will eventually take a huge toll from me if I do not look after myself first. After decades of caring for others and putting the world first, I am drained and not finding working in the cannabis field to have the same vibes I once felt. Mentally, physically and spiritually I need a major change of pace, with less pressure and much more time digging in the earth.
Little did I know as I was preparing to be the Master of Ceremonies at the first 420 in Vancouver in 1995 that I would have such an important role to play in the legalization of cannabis. At the time I had committed to writing a textbook for Hempology 101 to educate the public about cannabis, hemp and prohibition. Soon after moving to Victoria and starting a Hempology 101 Club at UVic, I began meeting patients that needed access to cannabis products, meet a herbalist and baker and started the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club while living in a van in Jan 1996.
It has been a wild ride since.
One day I hope to write a book of stories of my activism, as I could tell dozens of tales about this fascinating journey. Here are some of the highlights:
Founded the world`s oldest compassion club, the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, which is in the process of getting a license from the city, including an exemption for its smoking room.
Written and published HEMPOLOGY 101: THE HISTORY AND USES OF CANNABIS SATIVA.
Created and published a national newspaper, the Cannabis Digest.
Managed the court case of Owen Smith, my former head baker that won a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada decision that made cannabis extracts legal for patients.
Defended the club with lawyers in 5 trials, which included 4 raids on the club, beating all 15 trafficking charges using various constitutional arguments.
Got arrested giving out 420 pot cookies and eventually convicted of trafficking THC by a jury after a week long trial. Was given a one day jail sentence, making me a cookie convict.
Appeared in the movie Kid Cannabis in my club doing my job.
Spearheaded rallies and phone jams across the country in protest of mandatory minimums and the government`s attempt to take patient gardens away, including a press release and rally on Parliament Hill April 1, 2014 when the MMPR came into effect.
Formed weekly 420 circles at UVic for 18 years and helped start Hempology 101 club at UBC which has held weekly 420 circles for 6 years.
Created the world`s first live cannabis gameshow, REACH FOR THE POT.
Appeared at or organized approximately 3,500 cannabis rallies, court hearings, board meetings, press conferences, lectures, conferences and other events.
Of course there have been a few failures but for the most part I have not made any major mistakes in my career and have spent little time in jail for a guy who managed to sell about $25 million dollars worth of cannabis with a megaphone in his hands. That number includes all of the years before the fall of 2012, the year I turned the VCBC into a non-profit society and let it take a life of its own. Selling cannabis to the sick and dying in the face of the authorities for so long was a righteous way to put food on the table, and anyone who knows me can assure you that I took as little as I needed for myself knowing the source of my income was mostly sick people on disability.
Out of all of my accomplishments I am certainly most proud of the VCBC, especially the edible and topical cannabis products we developed over the years. Many people have improved and extended their lives by using the many different products we have created from patches to salves, lozenges to Budda Balls and of course our cookies. That is one of the things that brought Gayle Quin and I so close.
Her story could also fill a book. When she came into the club in the summer of 2003 we were both struggling. Years of poor health and poverty had taken a toll on her, while stress and my ex-girlfriend were draining me. In many ways she saved my life.
We fell in love at work. It was intense. Our passion for helping others and building community was contagious. We made cannabis superhero costumes to parade around in. We constantly challenged each other to do better. We shared our love freely and fiercely with those who touched our lives. Our love shone from the depths of the club, vibrating like a drum in the night.
Cancer took that all away.
The last 3 years of her life were spent in my care. We became so attached during this period of our relationship it was like I was her arm to the world and the key to her heart. The last 2 years were very intense, as she spent most of the time in a hospital bed at home with a broken back and leg where the cancer had eaten it away. She passed away peacefully at home in Sept last year.
At first I thought I could continue in my activism. It seemed like work was helping me focus on something positive. After all of these years of risk with little reward, my work was ready to pay off in all sorts of ways and my future seemed certain. At least that is what my head said.
My heart, however, had a different plan. My heart could not bear doing cannabis activism without me love any longer. It was hard enough going alone the last few years as I delivered newspapers and attending the occasional event but now that she is not even here to talk to when I get home, there is an empty hole in my life that cannot be filled. I do not have the passion I once had, the passion that made me successful. Between the long years of stress and the loss of my love, it is time for me to retire to a much quieter life.
While at first in my despair I thought I would just find a job working on a farm growing food, it soon became clear to me that I should build a tea company in her name, using the various recipes she developed using wildcrafted and easily cultivated herbs. That is going to be my focus now: Gayle`s Tea. Now I am a herb farmer and tea dealer. It feels good to do this in her honor, a tribute to the knowledge she left behind, and it feels good for myself, a way to heal in a work environment that will be less stressful and ground me to the earth.
Now I find myself grieving the loss of my friends I have made across the country, indeed the world, in this line of work. There have been so many incredible people come into my life along this journey that I feel rich just knowing them all. Hopefully many of them will be able to visit me at the Cobble Herb Retreat on Vancouver Island, where I plan on hosting many tea parties.
While I have decided to avoid going to any more cannabis events, it would be nice to say goodbye to many of the people I have cared for and worked with. I also planned on going back to Ontario to see my mother, family and friends in Cambridge in the late spring. There are still hundreds of my textbook at my sister`s house in Cambridge and a big pile here too.
So I am going to have retirement parties in Victoria and Cambridge, giving some of my friends a chance to say farewell, smoke a joint with me and buy a book for the special price of $10. In Victoria I will be going to 3 places Sat May 20, starting in the VCBC at noon where I will stay until it is time to march to Beacon Hill Park for 4:20, and before ending the day at the Green Ceiling.
In Cambridge I plan on renting the old scout hall in Forbes Park on Sun June 4 starting at 2 pm.
Hopefully a couple of old high school buddies will be able to provide some music entertainment. It will be really great getting together with my old friends from where I was born and raised, as well as seeing many Ontario activists that have had little direct contact with me over the years. Hespeler will have never seen a 4:20 circle like the one we are about to form then.
It has been an honour and pleasure to work with many of you in this industry and I look forward to watching the cannabis scene develop over the years as legalization unfolds. My decorated career has witnessed many memorable experiences that have made my life rich and made the world a better place. Leaving behind this legacy like a trophy on my fireplace mantle will always fill me with great pride. Now I have another legacy to create, one in the name of my love Gayle Quin and the gifts she brought into the world.
Before I say goodbye I must thank everyone who supported me over these years. Thousands of people have done big and small things with me, from trusting me as a source of medicine, advertising in the newspaper, hosting rallies in other cities, writing articles, financially supporting me when I cared for Gayle and so many other acts that it is impossible to even try to remember everyone I owe thanks to. Through all of my work I have been surrounded by a team of people willing to follow me as we faced a seemingly unbeatable opponent. Saying thanks does not seem enough and hopefully I will have a chance to do that in person to many of those that mean the most to me.
Saying goodbye to the cannabis movement feels much like when I said goodbye to my friends and family in Ontario when I finished university. While I am not going anywhere physically and will be in fact spending much more time at home now, this feels very much like making that huge decision, one I will never regret though it still pains me to be so far from family and friends I love dearly. The old Kenny Roger’s song keeps playing in my head, “You Got To Know When To Hold Ém.”
This is goodbye to my work liberating cannabis but it is not a goodbye to the many wonderful people I have met. Hopefully over the years I will be able to share a tea with many of those I have come to know and love along this journey. Until we meet again, my friends, this is farewell. Thank you for all of the great memories.
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By admin | December 30, 2016
With legalization stampeding ahead, many long-term cannabis activists are very concerned about unnecessary regulations and over-taxation. A report issued this month by a task force has informed the federal government about the current situation and made a series of recommendations that contain good, bad and ugly suggestions that the Liberals will take into consideration when it introduces legislation to legalize cannabis in the spring of 2017. It is clear that if activists desire improvements in the law, now and into the future, that we had better improve our game.
Traditionally our movement has made its big moves in court or on the streets but those days are gone. We need to learn how to lobby and gain allies in the lobby industry if we want to have any success in lowering taxes and fighting barriers for small business to access the industry. There could be no better ally for the cannabis industry than the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
On Thursday January 19, 2017 at 2 pm at the downtown Victoria library, the BC Independent Cannabis Alliance will be hosting a meeting with the CFIB in an attempt to encourage fledgling cannabis dispensaries and entrepreneurs to join the organization. We will be joined by local representative Scott Bonner, along with Samantha Howard, Director of the CFIB’s BC office. “Samantha and I look forward to sitting down to talk about how CFIB supports and adds value for entrepreneurs and small businesses.”
Jim Leslie from The Kootenay Medicine Tree is clearly ready to seize the moment. Öur dispensary’s board of directors began examining the Canadian Federation for Independent Business as a possible entity to help us gain more leverage leading to more expedient results when talking to both federal and provincial levels of government over a variety of topics that concern small businesses and that certainly pertain to our cannabis industry. There are over 110,000 individual small business members of the CFIB and approaching any level of government to bargain for the imposition of fair and practical policies with the coming legalization of cannabis is more likely to happen when the government sees a sizeable amount of support for our end of the cannabis industry.”
Jim Leslie of the Kootenays Medicine TreeHopefully others across Canada will grasp the importance of this membership drive, as there are many benefits to joining the CFIB and working together through its established networks. Cannabis businesses in every province should be contacting their regional representative of CFIB to host similar events, on the 19th of Jan or soon a we need to protect small business in the cannabis industry now before it is too late. As Jim states, we have to act now if we hope to protect small business in the cannabis industry.
“Furthermore because the CFIB does not represent any publicly traded companies and has grown to become the fifth largest lobby group in Canada. The fact that it only represents small business we believe is a further advantage to those in the cannabis industry who would consider themselves craft or artisan level producers of medical cannabis products, as well as many dispensaries. In the run-up to the federal government’s regulation of cannabis for all adults across the country we know that big corporate cannabis is spending a lot of money right now to try and take as much of the marketplace over as they possibly can by trying to push the federal government to come up with very restrictive policies that would preclude much of the working industry now from participating in whatever a legalized cannabis industry will look like in Canada. In order to protect the members of our dispensary and all the local craft and artisan level producers including growers, extraction artists, edible product manufacturers, harvesting/ processors, etc associated with our industry we must become a cohesive force and show that we can become organized at the national and provincial levels to help properly steer the imposition of legalization in a direction that allows fair treatment and participation for small businesses within the Canadian cannabis industry.”
Dan Kelly, President and CEO of the CFIB (image: Toronto Star)It is clear in this article by CFIB president Dan Kelly, that this is the best organization in the country for us to join to collectively fight poor government regulations. The CFIB has a long history of fighting for the little guy and often achieving their goals through one means or another. This organization also gives us an opportunity to educate other small business owners about their opportunities in the new industry, further expanding our networks and entrenching us deeper in our communities as we embrace for the future of big business in cannabis.
Here are some of his comments about the need to effectively lobby the federal government.
“Focus on critical regulatory imperatives: Too often, governments examine a new area where regulation is needed and quickly expand the mandate to include every moving part. This automatically means proper enforcement is near impossible. Choosing a few critical regulatory priorities, such as preventing sales to minors, ensuring proper product safety information and rules, and prohibitions at work or while driving, seems to be a great place to start. Choose the most important aspects to regulate and then do them well. Leave the rest alone.
Get the taxation mix right: If governments slap giant taxes on the industry, particularly in the early days, much of it will remain underground. From decades of experience with tobacco taxation, we know conclusively that punitive tax rates may discourage some users, but pushes lots of sales to the underground economy.”
One of the other huge benefits of joining the CFIB is their resources for small business.
Whether it is saving money on credit card services or providing advice on taxes, labour relations and small business management, the CFIB has a great deal to offer for any business. With a cast of individuals committed to helping small business succeed, there is no doubt in my mind that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is the cannabis industry’s best bet when it comes to lobbying for reasonable regulations and fair taxes.
Of course there are other organizations that lobby the government and we should hit them from every angle. As Jim goes on to say, “We advocate that everyone in the cannabis industry in this country join at least one trade organization that is cannabis oriented. There are at least five of them that I can think of that would fit this description. Beyond that it is important to examine joining the CFIB for their political clout and successful lobbying experience and enormous small business membership. These are all advantages that we believe will only benefit those of us who have been participating in this industry for many years and those of us who want to join this industry but do not have millions of dollars and shareholders as advantages coming out of the gate. One of the most exciting things I think we can do as an industry is to participate with the CFIB, join them as an industry and then work with their board of directors to create a pro- cannabis small business approach and set of policies with which to help our industry protect itself and grow larger in the coming years.”
Indeed the wider range of opportunities that are now presenting themselves to the cannabis industry are mind-boggling but if we do not have organizations like the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses working with us then those advantages will get handed over to big businesses. We have to fight together, work together and lobby together if the cannabis field wants to maximize its potential economic, medical and environmental benefits. Craft cannabis has a chance to be included in legalization from the beginning but it will not happen without groups like the CFIB going to bat for us.
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By admin | November 30, 2016
Another huge victory has brought life back into the oldest medical cannabis dispensary in the world. After initially passing bylaws in Sept to license cannabis dispensaries without allowing any consumption on site, on Thurs Nov Victoria city council has voted 7-1 in favour of granting the two oldest clubs in town an exemption. The approximately 6 weeks the Box was shut down felt like a lot longer but it will soon be a fading memory as members are once again safe to spark up amongst friends.
Since the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club is the only one to have managed a safe inhalation room, there is no doubt this amendment to the bylaws is intended to allow the VCBC to continue to operating as it has for over 20 years. With hundreds of people using the space each month, there is no doubt city councilors heard many complaints about the new bylaws when it was shut down. Having a long history of providing space for members to smoke or vapourize, the VCBC has been so discreet that the tenants in the condo next door did not even realize we had a smoking room until this exemption was granted.
When the bylaws were introduced several councilors asked staff direct questions about this specific issue and in my opinion city staff were not honest in their answers. The bylaw is clear. In a letter given to the Green Ceiling, “As of Sep. 22, 2016 the cannabis related business regulation bylaw has been adopted and under section six a person carrying on a cannabis related business must not c) allow a person to smoke, vape, consume or otherwise ingest cannabis or products containing cannabis on the premises,” Staff should have made it clear to the councilors that this bylaw would be enforced strictly and that there was no room for exceptions.
Three councilors spearheaded this initiative, Jeremy Loveday, Charlayne Thorton-Joe and Marianne Alto, though it seems clear all but Geoff Young were very supportive. City councilor Marianne Alto was very clear in her statements to council when the bylaws were passed. “I think that managing on-site consumption will help us manage public use and will also help us manage unwilling exposure.” Likewise, councilor Jeremy Loveday stated that, “They need a safe place to do it. That’s one example why having a safe space for people to consume their medicine, if they legitimately need it, makes sense. They shouldn’t be forced out into the street,”
Unfortunately there seems little interest in city council to give other organizations, like the Green Ceiling, the same opportunities. “I think there’s particularly compelling arguments in the non-profit societies for allowing people to consume the substance,” Isitt said. “I think that argument’s a bit weaker in the for-profit establishments, where I personally don’t see a pressing need to allow people to consume the product.” Ben Isitt This seems like a difficult line to draw in the sand but one council intends upon sticking to.
Meanwhile the Green Ceiling has been fined 6 times for allowing cannabis smoking. Weekly protests are being held at the John A MacDonald statue at city hall every Thursday at 420 to collect signatures in support of the lounge. It is uncertain when the city will file for an injunction in the Federal Court of Canada to shut the doors, but it is eminent.
Now that the VCBC safe inhalation room has been approved by the local government, the next battle is to convince the province that safe consumption sites need to be a big part of their legalization scheme. Clearly BC could have a huge tourism industry focused specifically on cannabis consumers but only if lounges are allowed. Allowing vapour lounges will be entirely up to the provinces and local health authorities and one of the main jobs of the BC Independant Cannabis Alliance is to convince these entities of the value and safety of these facilities.
Hopefully other city councils will follow the lead of Victoria and begin granting location exemptions to consume. The exemption granted to the VCBC is the first of its kind in the country but it is very clear every city in Canada should have spaces for patients to quietly consume their medicine protected from the weather, thugs and police harassment. As we march forward into a legal scheme, let us hope all levels of government work together to help manage these safe inhalation facilities.
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By admin | November 10, 2016
On the weekend on Nov 5 and 6, 2016, friends and family of Gayle Quin gathered to say goodbye at 3 very different, unique celebrations. Her magnificent spirit watched over us as we sang cannabis carols and told stories of her. For those she touched the pain of her loss is only tempered by the outpouring of love being being shared amongst those left behind.
Many people who loved and admired Gayle were not able to attend the events this weekend. While picture and videos cannot replace being there, we have gathered together as many as possible so others can see and hear some of what we did to celebrate her life. We cannot keep her alive on this earth but we can keep her alive forever with our stories and pictures.
I would like to send one final thank you to all of those who have supported us during the last few years. Many friends and strangers donated medicine and money to my love, something that truly helped her stay alive longer and suffer less. The feeling of love I have felt for her and from others has been almost overwhelming at times but without the constant support of my friends I certainly would have fallen apart a long time ago.
Rest in peace my love Gayle Quin.
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By admin | October 12, 2016
Celebrations Of Life For Gayle Quin November 5 and 6
Friends and family of Gayle Quin will be gathering in Victoria the weekend of November 5 and 6 to celebrate her life. She peacefully passed away in her home on Thurs Sept 22 after a long fight with cancer. Several events are being planned, giving everyone a proper chance to say goodbye and meet some of the other incredible souls she pulled into her circle.
Gayle Quin is survived by by her sons Joe and Chris, daughter-in-laws Sage and Jacqui, grand-daughters Abbygayle and Kaya Lou, step grand-daughters Phoenix, Ella and Meryn, sisters Denise and Maureen, brothers Mike, Jimmy and Grant, many other extended family members. Having lost both of her parents to cancer, and her brother Brian last summer, Gayle’s family is far too familiar with the pain the loss of a loved one causes.
At 3 pm on Sat Nov 5, a public celebration of life will be held in Beacon Hill Park at the Cameron Bandshell. While it is impossible to control the weather, this venue has far more meaning to my love than any funeral home would ever have, as we used to host many Hempology 101 meetings there and took many walks through the park at night. There are benches so, as long as it is not pouring rain, a blanket will help anyone feel comfortable. Gayle loved the rain, so in many ways it would be fitting to have a light mist surround us as we remember her.
Later that night a party will be held at the Sunset Room to give us an opportunity to relax, dance and share some memories together. Located on the inner harbour with a nice patio near the water, the Sunset Room is a non-alcohol, all-ages venue that will be perfect for the occasion. Smoking or vaping are not allowed inside or near the path that leads to the boat dock.
The following day we will gather at Gayle’s property, known as Cobble Herb Retreat, starting at 4:20 pm. A fire will be lit in the tipi for the evening. Anyone interested in attending should send me a private message for the address if you require it.
For those unfamiliar with the work of Gayle, I will refer you to the eulogy I wrote last week and the several articles I and others have previously written about her. For those of us lucky enough to know her and work with her, she was a unique firestorm that could be tender and gentle with a stranger one moment and a fierce defender of the weak the next. For myself, the love of my life is gone and I will never be the same again.
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By admin | September 23, 2016
Cannabis Heroine Gayle Quin Succumbs To Cancer
After a long battle for her life, the beloved Vancouver Island activist Gayle Quin peacefully left us Thursday Sept 22, 2016 at 8:30 pm. With friends around the world, Gayle will be especially missed by her sons Joe and Chris, daughter-in-laws Sage and Jacqui, grand-daughters Abbygayle and Kaya Lou, step grand-daughters Phoenix, Ella and Meryn, sisters Denise and Maureen, brothers Mike, Jimmy and Grant, many other extended family members and, of course, myself. No dates have been set for a service, which is expected in a month, though she will remain in her home for about 24 hours for those wishing to come pay their last respects now.
Born in the Cowichan Valley, she was raised with her 7 brothers and sisters in Saanich near Elk Lake. Leaving home at the age of 17 to get married and have children, Gayle spent a few years in Victoria before moving to Saltspring Island. It was while living on Saltspring Island that her knowledge of herbs expanded, as she both learned for her own needs and did research for others who came to her for guidance about their health problems.
Gayle had been dealing with multiple health problems as long as she could remember. Since using cannabis to help her intense menstrual cramps at the age of 13, she had been constantly experimenting with the plant to discover its various healing properties. Her struggles included severe food allergies, arthritis, fibromyalgia, mercury poisoning, hep C, herpes, broken bones, chronic fatigue syndrome and most recently cancer. Her sensitivities to chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs drove her to learn to use plant medicines to help deal with her problems, something which lead to a lifetime of learning and teaching about natural healing practices.
Since joining the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club in 2003, Gayle has worked tirelessly to help others improve their health, organize rallies, educate the public about cannabis and support various court actions challenging the laws. She has appeared as a patient witness in 3 court cases of the VCBC, including the trial of Owen Smith which went all of the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and resulted in a unanimous decision making extracts legal. The Cannabis Digest newspaper, which is preparing to print its 50th edition, was her idea, as she considered it critical to inform the VCBC members and public about the ongoing developments in court and politics. We will be dedicating issue #50 to Gayle Quin.
While working at the club, Gayle helped develop several unique food and skin products using various herbs and essential oils. These products can be found on our on-line recipe book.
Many stories about Gayle and articles by her have been saved on the Cannabis Digest website. She has been featured in stories in Skunk magazine and Monday Magazine. She also taught several lectures for the University of Victoria Student Society Hempology 101 Club, where she helped keep the 420 circles going for years when I was not allowed on campus at the turn of the century.
Soon after starting to work at the VCBC, Gayle got her divorce money and bought property in Cobble Hill. A year later we were deeply in love, as our passion for caring for others and making the world a better place ignited a flame between us that has burned fiercely ever since. As her health deteriorated we spent more time in the country, eventually putting a sign out front for Cobble Herb Retreat. She wanted to create a space for people to learn about herbal medicines and other alternative healing practices, and with the property being held in an estate for the next 10 years I will have plenty of time to see her wishes come true.
Another legacy I plan on creating in her name is hospice centers with greenhouses, so patients can even have their beds wheeled out to see the plants in the middle of the day to watch friends pick leaves to make them fresh juice. This will be a pilot project I hope to convince the province to start as soon as possible, as I firmly believe it will both save the government money and provide better health care. Having seen how much cannabis can help in palliative care I feel compelled to make sure others benefit from the hell I have experienced.
In the past 10 years Gayle and I have been living together we have shared many wonderful journeys. Our trip to Jamaica a few years ago was absolutely incredible, no doubt the best time we ever had. A venture to run naked through the hemp fields of northern Saskatchewan was also a memorable time. Thankfully we have some videos of both those magical vacations.
Perhaps nothing sums up how my love approached life than this quote, “I’ve seen people come in here who have been given weeks to live. They don’t just have to deal with intense pain, but with this new knowledge that they’re not going to be here much longer, or that they’re getting evicted because they can’t work, or that they’re losing their kids because the ministry is taking them away, This isn’t something I disconnect from at the end of the day – these are my friends, and I want to do everything in my world to help them.”
Over the years Gayle Quin touched many lives, like a fairie sprinkling stardust over unsuspecting tourists. Her compassion, zest for life and relentless drive to challenge herself has inspired friends and strangers alike. No one could deny her magnetic personality, nor ignore her persistent drive to make things better. We will all truly miss this bundle of love.
Rest In Peace Gayle Quin
April 16, 1957- Sept 22, 2016
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By admin | September 2, 2016
This coming fall, everyone with the Cannabis Digest will be proud to be getting ready to print the publication’s 50th issue. With so much happening in the cannabis scene, it is exciting to have the opportunity to document the changes as we shift from prohibition to legalization. We feel our newspaper has a special place in the Canadian cannabis movement, and want to improve our publication to keep pace with the moving landscape.
One of the most important things we need to do is change the directory for dispensaries in Canada. When we started the Cannabis Digest there were only a handful of clubs in the country, and since many appeared to be poorly managed, we waited for a while before adding a new club to the back page. It was important for us to know that any compassion club listed in our paper had good customer services, acceptable products, and reasonable membership requirements.
In the last few years the number of dispensaries has exploded in Canada, with estimates of storefront operations between 350 and 400. Obviously we only have a fraction of them listed in the paper, and that is the first thing we want to change. While we cannot hope to get everyone listed, with your help we will gather an accurate list of dispensaries in Canada, with current information in the paper and menu online.
As of today, any dispensary that chooses to advertise in Cannabis Digest will get a listing in the paper, plus a bundle of 50 papers delivered to their club. For dispensaries with multiple storefronts, we charge additional $20 for every extra listed address, and deliver an additional bundle of 50 newspapers to that address. All dispensaries who advertize with us online, and all those paying to be listed in the newspaper, will be included in our on-line directory, linked to our main website.
This offer gives dispensaries an opportunity to gain exposure while providing their members with current information about issues that matter to patients and their caregivers. To this end, we are doing our best to keep prices down to make it affordable for people to do business with us. Since the Cannabis Digest was originally a newsletter for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, there has always been a focus on the legal and political issues that clubs face. The intent of this publication has always been to provide up-to-date information about the evolving cannabis scene. By helping link people to dispensaries, the Cannabis Digest will be a valuable resource for everyone in this industry.
Our paper has few employees, and relies on volunteer writers and distributors. Thus in order for this change in advertizing policy to be successful, we need help connecting with new dispensaries, and reconnecting with older ones. Simply put, we cannot possibly contact all of the dispensaries currently operating. Thus we are reaching out to our readers. If you can approach the management of a dispensary with this offer on our behalf, you will be helping the newspaper, helping patients to gain access to clubs, and doing your part to bring the Cannabis Digest to new places. Of course it is our hope that all of our readers already feel they are benefitting.
While we do not blame the Licensed Producers for the problems with the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, we certainly know that dispensaries provide a better opportunity for patients to access the products and services they require. Even if we wanted to work with LPs, federal laws prohibit them from advertising with us. Until such time as the regulations restricting who can legally grow and sell cannabis are improved to allow easy access to small producers, this newspaper will focus on dispensaries and the people fighting for the right to grow, sell and use cannabis without overly-restrictive laws.
In addition to enhancing our directory, we will be making changes to both our on-line presence and the print copy. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to email them to me or otherwise let me know what you are thinking. It is impossible to fulfill everyone’s ideas and dreams with this paper, but CD is certainly the result of many people contributing, and we like to think we are flexible and ready to evolve as this new era of cannabis legalization dawns upon us.
Publishing the Cannabis Digest for over 10 years and reaching issue 50 will be one of the great accomplishments of my career thus far. As we prepare for this milestone, please consider joining our team by helping us distribute and share our work to those who might not have access to the internet, or lack the time to search out this valuable information. By working together we can help the Cannabis Digest lead the way towards a brighter future for the cannabis community.
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By admin | July 18, 2016
David “ Guppy Fish “ Easterbrook was a life-long chaser of love and life, who made himself known from coast to coast for his Rainbow suspenders; roller-skates and Coon-skin hat; his dapper, silver adorned chapeau; his moustache; Guppy-Goo; and Wibble-Tokers, for the consumption of world class Cannabinoids.
He started his Cannabis and Spirit journey one fateful Valentines-Day when he returned home from the air-force, and joined his friends to sit in his friend’s newly done up hot rod. They fired it up to listen to it run, and then someone passed around a joint, his first…well, let’s just say he started fast ‘cause it was DMT cured.
After enjoying watching things fly through the car, and blasting the radio until the car ran out of gas, he fell in love with Mary Jane and the hippie lifestyle.
He was already the Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer type, but this really started him on his biggest adventure. It took him all the way to places like Woodstock, Rochdale College, and Shambala. He finished his journey, making a world of difference in the Vancouver cannabis scene, or “Vansterdam.”
He had always been known for his genuine love for photography, creativity, love, and of course, Cannabis. He had spent a lifetime learning the various methods of growing and extracting Cannabis, and became best known for his product, made of a mixture of premium extracts. He called it Guppy-Goo. The fun, and the funky glassware almost always guaranteed to leave you on the floor, or at least leave your head spinning.
His special recipe for spreading goodness was based on recognizing the hurt and damage in others, and on sharing genuine love, support, and respect. Most importantly, he shared the truth, even when it hurt. He always did so in the gentlest way possible because he knew that “we have all been there.” He could always be found doling out tokes, hugs, and sage advice at his usual haunts: the Vancouver Seed Bank, The New Amsterdam Café, and the Cannabis Culture Lounge.
He loved nothing more than watching others grow, and did all that he could to support everyone the same way that they supported him.
Some of his greatest achievements involved helping to instill love and camaraderie in the community, and running a Cannabis friendly studio that hosted the 1st Kush Cup. It was the first, open to the public, indoor, 4:20 market in Canada. He opened a dispensary, and hobnobbed with some of the biggest names in the scene, like Timothy Leary, Woody Harrelson, and his long time hero, Tommy Chong.
David finished his journey last December when he lost his battle with lung cancer. In the end he was surrounded by loved ones, and comforted by knowing that he had spent a lifetime spreading hope and wellbeing in his community.
He will always be remembered for leaving you feeling warm and fuzzy with a toke, a hug, and his favorite saying: “Thank you for being a part of my dream.”
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By admin | July 4, 2016
People that do not even smoke cannabis know that BC has some of the best herb in the world. For decades cannabis farmers have illegally used first hidden valleys, and then basement hydroponic setups to produce volumes of high grade herb. But with legalization on the cusp those days are soon coming to an end. Or are they?
At this stage the Province of British Columbia has a unique opportunity to create a flourishing cannabis industry. But it could go very sour. There is a lot of concern that Licensed Producers under the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations will be the only legal growers under the new rules, and that government owned stores may be the only legal places to purchase cannabis products. If the cannabis community wants to have any hope of influencing the government’s direction; if we want to move away from models that benefit large corporations, and towards regulations that encourage a robust craft industry, then we need to start doing more than holding 420 rallies and opening dispensaries.
Recently I had tea with a few friends working in the provincial government. From that conversation it became clear to me that the cannabis culture that has lead the movement is not well prepared for the massive changes that are under way. As the government moves to legalize, new waves of entrepreneurs and investors are applying mounting pressure on politicians and bureaucrats to create laws that would tightly restrict who can grow and sell the herb. If the activists that fought so hard for legalization want a reasonable set of regulations, they need to make a sincere effort to make sure legalization allows formerly illegal operators to become part of the new scheme. Excluding those who have been working in the cannabis field for decades will bring massive problems.
The province cannot do much yet to prepare for implementing legalization. It must wait until the federal government’s task force, announced on the last day of June, completes its work in the fall. That task force is comprised mostly of law enforcement, doctors and lawyers, with the exception of outspoken anti-prohibitionist Dr Susan Boyd. Of course the federal government will not be bound to accept everything this panel suggests when it introduces legislation to legalize in the spring of 2017. Still, the recommendations will be highly persuasive.
“The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, supported by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Health, has created a Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation (“the Task Force”). The Task Force is mandated to engage with provincial , territorial and municipal governments, Indigenous governments and representative organizations, youth, and experts in relevant fields, including but not limited to: public health, substance abuse, criminal justice, law enforcement, economics, and industry and those groups with expertise in production, distribution and sales. The Task Force will provide advice on the design of a new framework. The Task Force will receive submissions from interested parties, including individual Canadians, consult widely, listen and learn, and commission any necessary focussed research to support its work. It is supported by a federal secretariat and will report back to the three Ministers on behalf of the Government in November 2016, on a date to be determined by the Ministers.” 1. (LINK)
To the dismay of cannabis activists, another person with a long history of supporting tough drug laws is leading this panel, Anne McLellan. “Ms. McLellan served four terms as the Liberal MP for Edmonton Centre, during which she was Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Minister of Health, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and Minister of Natural Resources.” 1. (LINK)
The government website fails to mention that the company she now works for, Bennett Jones, has been hired by several LPs, clearly putting her in a conflict of interest. Hopefully the rest of the task force will have a more open mind about the subject and be willing to take the time to listen to everyone who wishes to provide input into the process.
The public has been given until Aug 29 to make written submissions to email@example.com.
There is also surveys about different components of legalization at
A concerted effort needs to be made by the entire cannabis community to educate this task force about the wide range of benefits a robust industry will provide and that any attempt to tightly control the sale of cannabis will result in high prices and a flourishing black market. It is not clear if there will be any public hearings. Let us make our voices count, if we can.
There are several areas in which this task force needs to provide clear guidance. An example is the issue of driving after smoking or eating cannabis. Indeed, some of the most important decisions will be made by the provinces. However, since no province but BC has a large existing industry ready to supply the recreational market, it appears likely that most other provinces will depend on LPs to supply government operated stores. The only province with a realistic chance of creating a system that includes and encourages a craft cannabis industry is BC.
One of the reasons that a BC industry appears feasible is the proliferation and licensing of dispensaries in most major cities in the province. Though a few areas have resisted storefront operations, the cities of Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, and others are creating bylaws to allow the sale of cannabis, connecting many cannabis organizations more closely to their communities. While this helps dispensaries to get a foot in the door, it does not ensure that they will be included in the province’s upcoming legal scheme. For this reason the clubs need to work harder than ever.
Dispensaries face a huge challenge if they are to exist in their current form. Medical cannabis is likely to be strictly controlled by the MMPR, even in provinces that allow the sale of small scale producers outside of the MMPR. And LPs will eventually be able to sell their products in storefronts of some type. Traditional compassion clubs will either have to desert their mom and pop growers for an LP, or merge into the recreational market, if possible.
There is an important job, however, that the province can begin to tackle right now. It can start thinking about educating the public about the various uses of cannabis. While drug education is generally a federal matter, there is no doubt the public school system needs to prepare to teach kids about cannabis and how to use it properly. Unfortunately we can expect a new wave of propaganda about the harms of cannabis on the youth, with a focus on the dangers of consuming cannabis before being fully mature.
If the federal government is serious about removing so-called organized crime from the cannabis industry, it would be best off creating low barriers for people trying to enter the market. By allowing everyone interested in selling cannabis to get a license, the government will give the market the power to set the prices based upon supply and demand. Giving opportunities for ordinary citizens to enter into the industry will push gangs out of the cannabis scene, and make room for good jobs with medical benefits.
Organized crime will only stop its involvement in the cannabis industry if the price drops 75-80%. Such a drop will only happen in a lightly regulated market. If the prices of cannabis for consumers remains even close to where they exist now, there will be a lot of incentive for those without licenses to continue growing and selling cannabis illegally. When consumers are paying $2 or $3 per gram very few gangs will bother to keep working in the cannabis field. They will be forced to become legitimate business people, or to focus on other revenue sources.
Creating a strict regime to control the sale of cannabis will backfire on the Liberals. If the task force is a hollow show; if it is meant to give everyone the impression they listened to the public before they recommend no one but LPs can produce cannabis, then we will continue to see patients suffer, dispensaries raided, corporations take over, and organized crime make a lot of money. What we really want to see is real dialogue, real cooperation. What we fear is more struggle, disappointment and lost opportunity.
The federal government should be listening to the experience of those that know the most about this plant and its culture. Instead it is treating those working in the cannabis community like criminals until the very last minute. Is it planning to hand over control to large companies? It will be a shame to see the government create such tough new regulations that many of us continue to operate outside of the law, consuming vast and valuable legal resources, while minimizing the benefits cannabis has to offer. Many of us are making great efforts to inform the government about this plant, and we want nothing more than to help draft reasonable laws that ensure a bright future for government, industry, consumers and the general public.
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By admin | June 28, 2016
I have begun to suspect that that the minds of some contemporary regulators are under the control of demons. I offer the following examples.
In September 2015, the State of California passed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), a comprehensive State licensing system. The Act requires the State to establish new agencies, and for this process, two years is the estimated time. So, although the MMRSA is now law, it will be in effect only in 2018. Meanwhile California medical cannabis activists are readying themselves for a fight.
The MMRSA establishes a set of official distributors, and a set of official labs. If this system is allowed to stand, it will work as follows. Every grower will have to hand his/her cannabis to a distributor, who will send samples to a lab. If the end product is bud, and it passes inspection, the distributor executes a contract between the grower and dispensaries. If the end product is infused oils or edibles, the distributor executes a contract with a manufacturer. Every manufacturer, too, will have to hand his/her medicine to a distributor, who will send samples to a lab. If they pass, the distributor executes a contract between the manufacturer and dispensers. If there are more steps in the chain, there are that many more trips to and from distributors. The labs, the distributors, and whatever else is needed to maintain the MMRSA, are to be paid for through an assessment of a 15-35% tax on the product at each point in this series. The new system will easily double, and possibly triple the cost of medical cannabis in California. Patients will not be able to afford this increase, and will need to find underground sources. If they do so in sufficient numbers, the legal supply system will collapse.
This plan has been called greedy. It certainly is that. It is also indiscriminate, as dispensaries that have adequate in house labs, and who regularly sell excellent, well tested medicine, must still bear the cost of another lab. But the problems don’t stop there. The MMRSA is an attempt to exert absolute control over California’s medical cannabis supply chain. Absolute control differs dramatically from ordinary control. Ordinary control can be achieved through voluntary systems of negotiation and compromise between players in an industry. Absolute control can’t be achieved at all; and where the attempt is made, it is destructive. The plain fact is: absolute control is a demon; its proponents are compelled to destroy what they are building. Put simply, they are possessed.
Medical cannabis dispensaries in Washington State have been ordered to close by July the 1st. That’s just a few days away. In April 2015, the State passed Senate Bill 5052. This Bill permits only recreational dispensaries, licensed through the newly formed Liquor and Cannabis Board. Some dispensaries, however, will carry medicinal products.
Washington State has had a medical cannabis law since 1998. In recent years patients have been permitted to join collective cannabis gardens—in practice, dispensaries. These outlets functioned informally; they were not regulated, and did not pay taxes. But they worked. Patients got affordable medicine, and were generally happy. In 2011 a Bill to legalize and regulate the dispensaries passed in both the State Senate and the House, with bi-partisan support. But the Governor vetoed it. At the same time the State approved Initiative I-502 to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes. When the Initiative passed in 2012, the State handed control to the Liquor Board. When sales opened in 2013, the Liquor Board began to gripe. It resented competing with the garden/dispensaries, and has lobbied successfully to eliminate them.
It is possible in Washington State to apply to the Liquor and Cannabis Board for a license. But the requirements will certainly rule out garden collectives. They give priority to shops that have been paying taxes, and are on record as having applied in the past for an I-502 recreational license. As of April 2015, 1900 applications for licenses had been submitted, and none granted.
The new law exempts patients from sales tax, but imposes a new 37% excise tax, sharply increasing the cost of their medicine. It also reduces drastically how much they can grow and store. Like its California cousin, this plan is greedy and indiscriminate. It is also an attempt at absolute control; its writers are possessed, hell-bent on driving the trade back underground.
When in 2014 Health Canada established its Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), soon to be extinguished, it handed Canadian doctors the responsibility to prescribe or recommend cannabis to their patients. In English Canada this event created confusion and hostility. Doctors were unprepared to recommend a medicine they’d never studied, and few were willing to participate. In Quebec matters proceeded differently. The Quebec College of Physicians created a patient registry; in Quebec, to obtain legal cannabis patients must sign up, and agree to take part in ongoing cannabis research. Much of this research is conducted at McGill University’s Health Centre, overseen by medical expert and researcher, Dr. Mark Ware.
Progress has been slow. Of the 160 doctors who have applied to participate, only 23 have been authorized. And of the 3,000 or more patients in Quebec, only 500 have joined. Everyone loves research. But few want to be forced into it. Spokespersons from Quebec College of Physicians say they are not looking forward to legalization, as legalization will improve access to cannabis, and compromise the registry. Here the will to control negates the ‘do no harm’ rule. These doctors must be possessed.
Canada’s Federal Liberals, now in power, are working on a plan to revamp the medical marijuana rules, and to legalize cannabis for recreational use. They will present the medical plan in late August, and the recreational-use Bill in the spring of 2017. Meanwhile they have rejected a Bill to decriminalize in the interim, meant to stop arrests. Instead they have opted to allow raids on medical dispensaries. And they have opted to permit arrests of individuals until the new Bill passes, probably some time in 2018. That’s two more years of government mandated misery.
The Liberals want control over timing. So deeply possessed are they, they have begun to speak in tongues. They have said, for example, that they will be arresting Canadians to protect the kids. Does this sound like English or French?
Absolute Cleanliness. License Producers in Canada are required to grow plants indoors in a sterile environment, tending them in sterilized white monkey suits, caps, and facemasks. A single spider mite or undesirable microorganism introduced into such an environment will create havoc in hours; it will have no competition. The regulators were possessed by a cleanliness demon. This system of growing cannabis is burdensome and expensive, and produces medicines no one can afford. It also produces the occasional spot of mold. There is no such thing as absolute cleanliness.
Absolute Tracking. In some States regulations require every single cannabis plant to be labeled and tracked from seed to sale. What if the new Trudeau Liberals try this? You have to wonder about such a plan. Do we track every tobacco plant destined for the cigar factory? Every grape destined for the wine maker? Every rye plant destined for the distiller? Absolute trackers of cannabis plants are possessed.
Absolute Obscurity. States that have legalized have placed severe limits on advertising. Basically, it’s no ads. I’m not a fan of advertising, but a ban on ads in an ad-crazed world will not work. Cannabis producers want the same privileges as beer, wine and whiskey producers. Absolute obscurity is demon’s dream.
Absolute Invisibility. Similarly, no regulator wants to allow patients and cannabis fans a space for public consumption. No vape lounges, no cannabis in parks. The consumers are to make themselves absolutely invisible. But of course, they can’t. There is no such thing.
The plain fact is, we are beset with governments possessed by demons of the absolute. It might be possible to conduct an exorcism with the aid of a few puffs of cannabis, and a mushroom or two. But given the personalities involved—prohibitionists at heart—this solution seems far off. A better plan is for activists to perfect their knowledge of spells. At the same time, they should fundraise for protests and court challenges. Cannabis will become legal when the demons have gone home.
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