(EDITOR UPDATE – THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED)
With the federal government getting ready to introduce legislation this spring to legalize cannabis sales, a wide range of issues deserve public discussion. Over the next three months, the UVSS Hempology 101 Club and the BC Independent Cannabis Alliance will be hosting 3 debates at the University of Victoria to help students and the public gain a deeper understanding of some of the challenges created by the legalization of cannabis. Indeed, the scope of the various components of legalization is so broad, that a great deal of public education needs to be occurring if our country is to maximize the potential benefits legalization has to offer.
Starting at 2 pm on Thurs Jan 27, ironically located in Vertigo, a space in the Student Union Building that used to be a bar until it was shut down after too many fights, the first forum will focus on small scale producers. Featuring local growers Sarah Campbell and Travis Lane, people in attendance will have an opportunity to ask in depth questions ranging from growing techniques to the economics of cultivation.
Also on hand will be veteran lobbyist Michael Geoghegan, who can help answer questions regarding the political barriers faced by craft growers looking to become involved in the impending legal scheme.
For both growers, it seemed clear from their teens that growing medicine was natural for them.
According to Sarah Campbell, “I’ve always had a green thumb and grew herbs for teas in high school. First grew cannabis under stairs in basement apartment in Guelph in 1996. I began working with plant extractions 2007.”
Sarah has become a huge advocate for small growers, representing the Craft Growers Association of British Columbia on the panel. She feels very strongly about the need to include everyone in the new legal scheme. “Craft value added products are vital to preserve the rich tradition of medicine making, a practice that generally affects the health and well-being of individuals and communities on many levels, social, environmental, and economic.”
Travis, who operates the Internet Dispensary, is likewise virtually tied to plants. “I started growing very young, in my teens, but killed more plants than I harvested at first. I gradually found more success, until it became a professional focus in my 20s.”
‘Growing cannabis has served me well for a couple of reasons other than income. Firstly, I find the process very therapeutic. I am relaxed and happy in my gardens. Secondly, I found a passion for plant and soil science once I started looking outside of cannabis for botanical information. This change of perspective forced me to re-evaluate some of our methods and techniques, which I have found to be a fascinating process.”
Of course he also sees the value in small scale producers being included in legalization. “I believe that it will be imperative to allow smaller scale production of legal cannabis. Aside from providing most of the jobs and economic stimulus, the smaller producers tend to be the ones that innovate and try new things, going against the current status quo.”
In February the forum will focus on patients and how the proposals in the federal report issued in December could seriously harm patient care. The debate in March will focus on dispensaries and how they will merge into the legal system. With the provincial election just months away, these discussions should help assist the public and guide all parties in BC towards reasonable regulations that make sense for everyone.