Toronto’s Cannabis Trailblazer Abi Roach Looks Ahead to Canada’s Legalization

Article by Jon Hiltz,

Toronto’s Cannabis Trailblazer Looks Ahead to Canada’s Legalization 0 BY JON HILTZ Abi Roach

It’s rare to watch history in the making and be cognizant of an imminent, pivotal change in society. Watching Canada march toward the end of cannabis prohibition is one of those occasions.

This summer, the Great White North is expected to legalize recreational cannabis at the federal level. By doing so, Canada will become the first Group of 7 (G7) country to undo a 95-year-long practice of banning the medicine.

How did Canada get there?

The Trudeau government will tell you that legalizing cannabis is their doing because the country simply can’t ignore the incredible number of Canadians who use pot on a daily basis.

Although the feds might be a political catalyst for ending cannabis prohibition, the reason the change is happening at all goes far beyond any government, and started well before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in diapers.

Canadian advocates and activists created a robust underground culture that grew by incredible proportions over the years, and culminated small wins that have lead up to this upcoming large-scale victory.

For one Canadian cannabis activist, she feels it’s inevitable to reflect upon how far the cannabis movement has come now that the country is on the precipice of legalization.

Abi Roach is one of the individuals responsible for the legalization of marijuana in Canada. As the owner of the Hot Box Cafe, arguably the most popular cannabis lounge in Toronto, Abi has been part of the movement for decades. She sat down with to discuss how cannabis culture has changed in Canada’s largest city, and how far we still need to go.

( When you first started venturing into the cannabis culture scene in Toronto, what was it like?

Abi: [It was] 1993. I was just a teenager and I had a little business on Queen Street West selling handmade jewelry. Robin Ellins from [cannabis culture shop]Friendly Stranger, before he had Friendly Stranger, had a little stand beside me.

There were no head shops in the city back then, so Robin would bring little pipes and things and set up on the street. He actually introduced me to hemp, so I went from selling beaded jewelry to hemp jewelry, so that was my first hemp business.

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