By Ted Smith
By the time you read this, I will have passed the club off to the newly formed society and will be making my living selling the textbook and other Hempology 101 products. It is a dream come true turning the club into a fully functional non-profit society. It is also a dream come true to have the Hempology 101 textbook available for sale. In many ways, though, it is just the beginning of a new phase in my work.
There is every reason to believe that this transformation will dramatically help the club grow far beyond anything one person alone could accomplish. Running the club like a benevolent dictator has been a practical approach to starting up the group and getting it through its early trials and tribulations, but the time seems right to let it go so it can create a future for itself.
Now my task of selling the book and enhancing the emerging hemp economy can begin in earnest. While the club has been honourable work, it has kept me grounded in Victoria and, at times, feels like working in a cannabis refugee centre. My passion is working in the public not running a healthcare facility.
The next step is the development of Hempology 101 clubs at post-secondary schools across North America, though I am not allowed in the U.S. These clubs are excellent opportunities for activists to directly engage with eager students, who often have insights, connections and information to contribute. Universities and colleges provide activists with opportunities to host speakers, show movies, teach lectures, set up information booths, and organize other events in an environment where the future is on everyone’s mind.
For the past 17 years I have been educating and networking at the University of Victoria where the UVSS Hempology 101 Club has now been the largest and most popular student club for several years. In the last few years we have expanded to UBC in Vancouver, Vancouver Island University in Naniamo, BC, and Mount Allison University in Sacksville, NB. This year, we should almost double in size as we expand to Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS, as well as Carleton University in Ottawa, and Toronto University in Ontario.
To set up these new clubs, Gayle and I are traveling to the east coast in Nov. to organize cannabis conventions. While all of the details are not confirmed by the time this paper goes to print, you can follow me online if you are interested in coming. These are simple events to organize, as all we need to do is find another student club to co-host the event with. This will get us some help booking a room, while giving a pot-friendly student club a chance to make the opening remarks. Finding a great line-up of speakers is harder in some universities than others, but there are certainly enough interested and qualified activists around that in most cases it will be tough deciding who cannot speak at the first conventions.
Hopefully, we will inspire others to start clubs at their local university or college. Students are generally too busy to start-up and do all of the organizing it takes to run a club, but non-students like me can do a lot to help create a Hempology 101 Club. Once the ball gets rolling it is not hard to keep a club going and the opportunities to educate the public are almost endless.
Some of the next schools we hope to expand to include the UBC Okanagan campus, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, University of Calgary, University of Saskatchewan, McGill University in Montreal, and Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, where I graduated with a philosophy degree. Obviously we are counting on getting help starting and maintaining these clubs, but one way or another Hempology 101 will be at these schools and many more in the next years to come. One day, Hempology 101 clubs at universities across the country will be hosting cannabis conventions during the months of Oct., Nov., Feb. and Mar., so anyone can tour around for a few weeks going to herb-friendly events.
It is very exciting to be venturing off to plant the seeds of Hempology 101 across the country, especially so because I am leaving behind a fully functioning non-profit society to provide medicine. While many look at the organization and see a great accomplishment, its failures are far too obvious to me. Barely anyone showed up to support Owen in court most days earlier this year, something that made me feel like there was a huge distance between me and the membership. Being constantly focused upon activism has not always helped the club, and it is my hope that letting it go will encourage others to continue where I am leaving off.
While the future is uncertain, I have great faith in cannabis and the people who love it. Visiting the hemp fields in Saskatchewan this summer has only affirmed what I believed 17 years ago when I started writing the Hempology 101 textbook—Cannabis can save the planet and the people on it, but only if we give it a chance.