Article by Caelan Hart, High! Canada
Medicine Hat, Alberta is a sleepy, conservative-leaning, retirement city in southern Alberta.
That’s where I’ve lived for the last fifteen years. I’m grateful to work in a small head shop where, as a self-described cannabis researcher and educator, I get to interact with every facet of our amazing cannabis community.
Last year we welcomed our first cannabis-specific health clinic and since that time we have seen a small uptick in the attitudes of our community regarding cannabis. Our clientele at the head shop, while once comprised primarily of young adults and the occasional old hippy, is now becoming a mosaic of everyone from senior citizens to soccer moms looking for relief from what ails them. I noticed over time that a lot of the same questions were being asked and I was having to “bust” a lot of the same myths for many people, and because I’m quite passionate about the cannabis plant, I am often guilty of giving people more information than they can digest. In early 2017 from this dilemma sprung my YouTube channel and blog: The Cannaisseur. My goal is to provide education for cannabis users of all levels of experience, as well as information on new products and services in addition to legislation affecting Canadian cannabis users.
I’m honoured to have been involved with several cannabis awareness rallies in Medicine Hat, as well as the planning of our last five 420 celebrations. This year we decided that with legalization just around the corner, we had to shake things up a bit. Misinformation about cannabis has run wild for a century, painting cannabis users as criminals and drains on society. Minds are beginning to change, but what else can we do to fight this stigmatization?
This was the question that birthed the 4/20 Cannabis Community Cleanup. The entire idea is simply to go out and make a visibly positive impact on our community while publicly consuming cannabis. Because 420 so often coincides with Earth Day, the best way we could make that impact was by picking up the trash that litters our beautiful city.
Our planning committee is a small group of independent activists with recent support from a new organization, the Cypress County Cannabis Coalition. Events like this one are fairly simple to organize and require very little funding. Most supplies like gloves and garbage bags can be purchased from dollar stores, and we’re ever grateful to HIV Community Link for donating sharps disposal boxes. We hope that easy-to-implement ideas like this one will catch on and spread to other small communities where cannabis users still face stigma and stereotyping.