For medicinal marijuana enthusiasts in Toronto, the last week was an eventful one (to say the least). Just two days before the Lift Cannabis Expo came to town, Toronto police executed the largest targeted arrest operation in Canadian history (officially named Project Claudia). Yea, you heard correctly (we are scratching our heads too). After Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party won a majority government this past fall (on a lofty campaign promise to legalize cannabis), our handsome new leader just casually looked the other way while Toronto police raided a total of 43 marijuana dispensaries, arresting 90 peaceful employees, and laying hundreds of charges (all despite the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent ruling that restricting patient access to their medicine violates their section 7 Charter rights, and that the current system, the MMPR, is in fact unconstitutional). Needless to say, the cannabis community quickly mobilized with a protest at police headquarters, and had police chief Mark Saunders sweating and stuttering at one of the most embarrassing excuses for a press conference… ever. But if the ganja community is one thing, it’s resilient, and no amount of excessive police presence could get in the way of a HIGH-ly successful expo, so naturally, we had to see for ourselves. And lets be honest, what could be more entertaining than an entire convention centre full of stoners, fresh vapour, medical innovation, paraphernalia, and the most cutting-edge technology advancements in cultivation? Well, we were actually floored to discover an overwhelming representation of women. From activists, to master growers, to canna-preneurs, when it comes to mother nature’s most notorious plant, women are kinda kicking ass. And although we’ve really only scratched the surface, here are just a few of the notable leading ladies in Canadian cannabis:
Women Grow – Founded in Denver, Colorado in 2014, this by-women-for-women organization now has 45 chapters across the United States and Canada. Operating much like a sorority (probably why we were so intrigued), members attend local networking events, an annual leadership summit, and rejuvenating 3 day wellness-weekend retreats – the next of which takes place in Lake Tahoe this August, and will include 300 incredible women connecting through daily yoga, educational seminars, networking and discussion, scenic hiking and paddle boarding, all “dedicated to helping you find the resources you need to succeed in 2016”. We popped by their event at the expo, where attendees were encouraged to approach each other, make introductions, and share a personal brag; a recent accomplishment or a tidbit of great news, meant to empower fellow females to be supportive and focus on positive growth.
Amy Anonymous – Dispensary owner, outspoken community advocate, and canna-baker extraordinaire, Amy’s reputation in the 6ix long precludes her anonymity, and her cookies quite literally bring all the boys to the yard. Amy makes everything from brownies to chocolates to cannabis infused manuka honey (a superfood in it’s own right), Lean (a fruity flavoured cannabis beverage additive), and her signature cannabis caviar (which – if we remember correctly – is a kush nug, rolled in honey oil, and then dusted with keef. Yes, mind = blown). Our personal fave? Her peppermint and lavender scented Boo Boo Balms – an all natural, topical ointment (made with essential oils) that will help just about anything, from inflammation associated with arthritis, to muscle pain, cramps, eczema, acne… we’d even try it as a night cream to slow down those fine lines (because packed with omega fatty acids and vitamin antioxidants, cannabis happens to make an incredibly effective and potent skin-care ingredient). Amy’s products are available through her club, where she also educates members on the benefits of cannabis as medicine, and understanding important considerations like choosing the right strain or dosage suitable to one’s symptoms.
Abi Roach – For the Toronto natives, you’re probably familiar with either (or both) of Abi’s long-time local establishments; Roach-O-Rama, one of the city’s most infamous headshops, and adjacent to it, the Hotbox Cafe, a Kensington Market staple that features standard caffeinated treats set in a toker-welcomed atmosphere. Abi also founded Spliff Magazine and is the director of the CFBA (the Canadian Cannabis Friendly Business Association), a key player in fighting to keep dispensaries open, and uniting active members in the Canadian cannabis industry.
Miss Envy – The name says it all, because this booth at the expo made us wish we lived in Vancouver. Coming soon to a dispensary near you, Miss Envy is an enticing line of botanical organic cannabis products, made with only non GMO ingredients, and “infused with love”. We’ll be honest, it was the Canna Sutra personal lubricant that first caught our eye; a warming, climax enhancing gel for her, that promises a “Higher level of intimacy” (tee hee). Other products range from Buddha Buddha (body lotion), lip balm, massage oils, a soothing bath bomb, and culinary ingredients such as olive oil, coconut oil, and butter, so you can unleash your own inner canna-chef.
Jodie Emery – If you haven’t heard of Jodie yet, you might be familiar with her husband Marc Emery. Dubbed ‘The Prince of Pot’, Marc Emery has been at the fore-front of marijuana reform in Canada and internationally for the last 2 decades (as an activist, a politician, a publisher, a business-man, and in the eyes of law enforcement, a criminal). He garnered a lot of attention in 2009 when he was sentenced to 5 years in a US prison for selling mail-order cannabis seeds to Americans. But it is largely thanks to his (and so many other activists’) numerous raids and arrests, and subsequent court challenges over the years, that Canada may finally be on the brink of legalization. And standing by his side all the while, with an outspoken voice (and dedicated following) of her own, is his ride-or-die wifey. Last week, the two defiantly opened a new location of their well-known Cannabis Culture dispensary chain right here in Toronto. In fact, they opened the store just one day after Project Claudia – can you say badass? Jodie’s writing on pot reform has been published in mainstream newspapers and media nationwide, and she’s no stranger to guest appearances on radio, television, and online. Plus, her twitter feed is pure-political-gold.