BY KRIS MANUEL
The sweet scent wafted through the air as you headed downstairs at the Toronto Public Library on Nov. 29.
The smell lead to a room where people who enjoy using cannabis discussed the plant.
On Nov. 6, residents in two U.S. states voted to relax its drug laws and legalize the recreational use of the drug. In Colorado, the state now allows the growth of up to six plants for personal use.
However, Canada got tougher on its drug laws. Coming into effect that same day, growing six plants could result in a minimum of six months in jail, according to the Safe Streets and Communities Act, Bill C-10.
To promote legalization, Ted Smith, author of Hempology 101, held several cannabis conventions across eastern Canada, including a stop in Toronto.
These events, like Smith’s book, educated people about the cannabis sativa plant.
His book includes scientific studies on cannabis as medicine, its industrial uses and its history.
Smith, currently living in Victoria, B.C., is a former grad of Wilfrid Laurier University.
He moved from Ontario to British Columbia where he attended a hempology meeting in Vancouver.
“I learned about the potential uses of hemp, for clothing, fuel, plastics and paints, to a vast array of potential industrial applications,” he said.
Publisher of Treating Yourself magazine, Marco Renda also spoke at the event.
He said, “Hemp has a lot of uses, for food, construction, and it’s better than concrete. In Europe they’re doing foundations and building full homes out of hemp.”
One brand-name product distributed in the UK, Tradical® Hempcrete®, is a construction product made out of hemp shiv and a lime-based binder.
According to the construction product’s website, “Hemp is the second fastest-growing crop plant on Earth after bamboo.”
It also said hemp shiv, the woody core of the hemp plant, is used for its “mechanical strength, durability, sound and thermal insulation, and exceptionally high carbon capture.”
Before Renda created the magazine, he was a junkie.
He said at 12 years of age, he started smoking cannabis before moving onto harder drugs.
However, he said, “I’ve been weaning off hard drugs for 13 years and it was really the cannabis that helped me get off them. They’re talking about the gateway that cannabis is to hard drugs – it’s the black market that’s the gateway. The drug dealers are the gateway, not so much the cannabis itself.”
He also uses cannabis to relieve a number of his maladies.
“I suffer from irritable bowel, from constant vomiting, I have hepatitis C and I have severe arthritis in my knees. I don’t take any painkillers or anything, all I take is cannabis.”
He said Treating Yourself is an international magazine “for patients by patients.”
“It’s not about money, it’s about educating,” he said.
“It’s about being in the mainstream media without being censored, getting true information out there from doctors.”
Ben Reaburn, co-owner of The Vapor Social, a lounge in Toronto, also spoke at the event. The vapor lounge specializes in glassware, vaporizers and other cannabis-related materials.
He said it’s also a place for people to get together or meet others.
“The biggest thing I was hoping for in the opening of The Vapor Lounge is to bring legitimacy to the whole thing. We’re not just a bunch of dumb stoners; we’re not just sitting around playing video games all day or skating around town on our long boards,” he said.
“But the people who have maybe never had a conversation with anyone or never had an experience with (cannabis), they’re looking at it through what the media suggests, what they see on the Internet and what they see in Pineapple Express and Cheech and Chong and all that kind of stuff.”
Renda said educating people about cannabis’s medical uses helps change people’s view on it.
“Let’s face it, there’s been these rah-rah-rah, we’re-here-we’re-high-get-used-to-it kind of rallies for decades and it really hasn’t opened the doors,” he said.
“If (medical-cannabis) patients were allowed to dedicate a percentage of our growth (of cannabis) to research, we’d be so much further ahead. But we’re not allowed to share; we’re not allowed to help one another. So the only way I see out of all of this is straight 100 per cent legalization and the only way to legalization is to get out there and educate people about the benefits. Eliminate the propaganda.”
BY KRIS MANUEL