Article by Anisha Dhiman, The Province
Keen to play by the rules and aiming to make a difference, people transition from the grey and black markets
As the Canadian government cracks down on the black market, entrants to the legal cannabis industry are playing by the rules to stay in the game.
Case in point: Jonathan Hirsh.
Post-legalization, Hirsh knew that being a cannabis influencer was not going to be legal. Founder of weedstagram416 and nominated for two Canadian Cannabis Awards (influencer and cannabis crusader) by Lift & Co. this year, he began posting his content on social media more than a year ago.
“I started off trying out strains from different licenced producers in Canada,” says Hirsh, whose Instagram page has 10.8k-plus followers. “As I was trying them out, I realized I was in an interesting position—I had been a medical patient and recreational user for over 14 years and I had a lot more information than most people.”
But when legalization came into play, Hirsh realized how tricky being a social media influencer was going to be, especially since his social feed also contained sponsored content. “After reading the Cannabis Act, I realized three things that were not in my favour as an influencer. The act states you can only post in an age-gated community, where the audience is of legal age—but merely clicking that you are over 19 is not a fool-proof way to ensure you are posting in an age-gated community, especially on social media; all cannabis-related communications must be conducted one-on-one in individual’s names—which means it must be in an email or a letter, and must be directed to the individual; and you can’t post on foreign media with the intent of it coming back to Canada,” he explains.
Based on the act’s fine print, at the stroke of midnight on Oct. 17, Hirsh put up his last post. “I don’t want to go to jail for posting about a joint. I want to play by the rules so that I can play as long as possible,” he says.