The music business has always had a strong connection to cannabis. While its ties to artists have mainly been recreational, indelibly linked with decades-ago photos of icons like Jerry Garcia, Bob Marley and Willie Nelson, the industry has clearly changed.
The natural fit between pop culture and cannabis remains as strong as ever, but the legalization of adult-use weed in Canada has contributed to a dramatic cultural shift that has expanded the reach well beyond rock ’n roll.
Cannabis legalization has created opportunities; smoking a joint, which used to be considered a risky thing to do, actually seems to be less offensive to many Canadians today than smoking a cigarette. Also, cannabis, a favourite of many artists for recreational purposes, is now also widely touted both in anecdotal reports and scientific studies as offering wide-reaching benefits in treating ailments such as arthritis, chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety and other conditions.
So, it should come as no surprise that a number of musicians have gravitated toward the industry and are actively aligning themselves with cannabis brands they feel best represent who they are as artists. There is a caveat though: from a regulatory standpoint, this is a lot trickier to do in Canada than in the United States.
That’s one of the great ironies of Canadian cannabis law: marijuana is legal to use, carry and grow (up to four plants per household, that is), but there are major restrictions on how it can be marketed and promoted. South of the border, the opposite seems to be true. Although cannabis remains illegal at the federal level in the U.S., there are few, if any, barriers to hiring musicians to promote particular brands.
Outside of my music career, I have a number of business interests. While staying vigilant and conscious, I’m always looking for projects that bring creative ideas to life.
This is what makes Ian Kwechansky, CEO and co-founder of LOOP/POOL, and the organization itself different. My involvement with LOOP/POOL, a Canadian artist-focused, social-forward cannabis brand, has very little to do with lending my name to a brand. The chance to leverage cannabis rules — which allow artists to be owners, but not ambassadors — with a company whose mission statement is to give back to the developing artist community is what got me onboard.
During my 25 years in the music business, having witnessed most every aspect of the industry firsthand and intimately, I feel I understand the challenges facing developing artists. Our Lady Peace put almost 645,000 kilometres on a mini school bus, criss-crossing the U.S. and Canada, eating ramen and playing every small venue imaginable, before band members were even able to pay the rent.