Article by Kate Robertson, NOW Toronto
Inspired by Barcelona’s cannabis social clubs, licensed pop-up aims to grow Toronto’s emerging craft cannabis scene while giving closet stoners a place to hang and get high with strangers
Closet stoners are coming out of the woodwork to experience cannabis culture – and sample cannabis-infused products – alongside tourists and newbies alike at Kensington Market pop-up social club, Mercado Libre, this August.
Approximately 500 people floated through last weekend’s two-day event, hosted by Bloom High Tea Social Club, founded by Tania Cyalume and Lisa Campbell. Saturday’s rain forced vendors indoors to the sweltering Hip Pop Art gallery. But a full slate of DJs, very enthusiastic vendors and very curious public meant it was hot and crowded.
Campbell and Cyalume were inspired to combine Toronto’s rich weed lounge culture with a cannabis market after visiting asociaciones cannábicas, cannabis social clubs, in Barcelona, Spain (which, with its massive annual Spannabis conference, appears to have replaced Amsterdam as Europe’s epicentre of pot). There, the city licenses members-only organizations to produce and sell cannabis products onsite, to be used socially – like in front of everybody.
“It’s kind of like a combination between a lounge and a dispensary. And it’s all rec,” Campbell says, explaining that unlike Canada, in Spain, social clubs are not about access to medicine – they’re about fun.
“It’s not necessarily about your right to medicate. It’s about your right to enjoy the plant as a part of your culture.”
Campbell’s Green Market pop-up is on hiatus this summer, but their network of vendors – Alair Vaporizers, Mary Jane’s Touch topicals, Baker’s Shop and CannaLove edibles – are all here.
As a group, Campbell says, they challenged themselves to develop cannabis drinks for the summer season, so everything from marijuana-infused lavender lemonade, kombucha, naturally-flavoured fruity sodas and powdered iced tea are on offer.