Article by High! Canada
High! Canada sat down this month with the lovely Tania Cyalume. We were very excited to speak with such a strong woman in the industry. Here is what Tania had to say;
Tania, can you tell us about how you got into the cannabis industry?
Back in 2008 I had an accident where I slipped on ice and hurt my back. About a year later I had the most intense awful pain. Luckily, since I was already smoking cannabis I never took any painkillers I just increased the amount I was smoking. Then in 2009 I started working for a Hamilton dispensary making edibles for people with diabetes and stomach issues. Also in 2009 I started doing cannabis consultation for people starting up labs. Helping them get quotes for all the different equipment, sourcing it out in hopes of building a lab and being approved by Health Canada because 90% of applicants didn’t make it through to the final steps at that time.
In 2015 I decided to open up a cannabis dispensary. Myself and my partner at the time opened up Queens of Cannabis Dispensary. It was a female owned company and LGBTQ friendly. So I guess the challenges we faced were issues with our landlord. The by-law officers threatened our landlord so she felt like we tricked her. She was an elderly lady who didn’t speak English and with the barrier and everything she thought we were against her. She ended up changing the locks on the door one day.
During your time at Queens of Cannabis we saw you constantly speaking out to different media and press about project Claudia and protesting dispensary raids in general, can you tell us about that?
I was basically in the closet the entire time up until 2016. I didn’t want to be out of the cannabis closet but at the time I realized there was an urgency for people to advocate because of everything going on with the raids. So we held our first press conference the day before project Claudia started. Since then we were just out in the limelight.
Tell us about Bloom High Tea Social Club?
Bloom High Tea Club was launched on 4/20. Right now it’s just a mobile and pop up shop but in the future I would like to own a lounge and café. We are at all the Green Market events.
Over the last few years in the industry have you run into any adversity?
Well I have two children. So making sure I always have my prescription and making sure there is never any reason for CAS to step in. Finding a location in the city was also a huge challenge. Real estate agents don’t want to ind locations in Toronto for people because it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Basically you need to scout out your own places and talk to people.
This month is Pride, would you like to talk about the LGBTQ community in cannabis?
The LGBTQ community has faced struggles in the past with the police and acceptance within the community. Bathhouse raids, wrongful arrests are just some of the things they have faced. Still to this day the police don’t really know how to respond to LGBTQ relationships or transgender people. There are still a lot of issues.
Can you give any advice for women entering the cannabis industry?
It is an emerging industry, but since it is not very new it’s always good to check with people already in the industry to ensure you’re not stepping on anyone’s toes.