Just as the image of a cannabis user has changed, so is the way cannabis consumption is changing. From musty basements decorated with Bob Marley posters, the culture is now opening up and becoming more inclusive, allowing for a whole new vision of how we enjoy our favourite plant.

The rise of cannabis centric events/parties/gatherings to some comes as no surprise, while many still ask, “cannabis what?” Functions centred around consuming cannabis products vary as widely as the methods of consumption. From tea parties to THC-infused six-course dinners, to experiential immersions or gamer gatherings, there are endless ways to indulge at carefully curated events. Cannabis is no longer niche, but the sub-cultures within it are.

The California Model

With normalization in mind, we look to places like California, one of the first States to legalize cannabis for all purposes including recreational use since 2016. It serves as a mecca for all things cannabis, and a great US counterpart when exploring the possibilities for the future of BC Cannabis.
In California, we're seeing a rise in all-inclusive smorgasbord style parties, featuring pre-rolls passed around like canapes and edibles on display for the nibbling. Most are larger in scale, less specific celebrations of all things cannabis. A come one, come all, let’s kick back and get lifted kinda vibe. Then there are more specific events. Think toke and tadasana, yoga classes where you indulge before the flow. Sensuality focused evenings that celebrate connecting with your sexuality and feminine power. Art nights that are all about getting inspired and creating under the influence. The list goes on and with each, the stigma around cannabis is slowly disappearing.

Social Acceptance

When it comes to cannabis use in the “real world,” how does the rise in cannabis events help or hinder societal acceptance? We are at a point where refined dining experiences and cultural events are infused with the green goodness. But are we more likely to spark one up during happy hour with our co-workers rather than down another pint? With more and more opportunities stacking up to enjoy our edibles, flowers, and topicals on a less conservative basis, when will we all start adopting the same nonchalance that we apply to alcohol?

If you’ve been a recreational cannabis user in the past decade, you may be familiar with some of the informal rituals. An incomplete list includes: procuring the bud – from a friend of a friend, from a stranger in their home or yours – consuming the product – in your home, in other people’s homes, under the cloak of darkness in inconspicuous public places. As we see quality flower becoming more accessible (and legal, finally), we are waiting to see the tides turn on how it’s consumed.

Thanks to decades-old propaganda like Reefer Madness and nearly a century of criminalization, there’s a widely understood expectation that it should be hidden, or at least not outwardly shared. What happens when you go ahead and give yourself permission to be social with your consumption? How are we shedding our inherited paranoia as we see a new dawn on the horizon? A permissive, legalized, celebratory culture that is long overdue. Taking cues from California, we can expect cannabis to become a way to enhance an experience more openly here in BC, finding reprieve in something that for some enhances experiences, rather than dulls them.

How does Cannabis Stack up Against Alchohol?

Speaking of dull, drinking is one of the most heavily used and widely accepted “drugs” globally. Drinking culture ranges from college parties where students get a little tipsy to exhausted thirty-somethings taking the edge off of the pressures of parenthood and career challenges. Going for a drink is as common, if not more, than grabbing a coffee these days. And the benefits of a drink (almost any type of alcohol) are pretty close to nil unless consumption is limited well beyond the practices of even the most casual drinker. As far as drawbacks go, one word: hangovers. Along with ingesting empty calories and sugar, liver and heart damage, blackouts, slurred speech, digestive and reproductive issues, behaviour changes, you get the idea.
As far as social norms go, it is widely accepted to down a couple cocktails. Celebrated, even, to cheers with wine to another day survived. But how does it become as socially acceptable to spark a spliff or nibble on an edible? The consequences are said to be virtually non-existent. The side effects significantly more attractive – many common benefits listed in strain traits include uplifted, relaxed, inspired, creative, and happy. How is it that cannabis consumption is still vilified while downing a bottle of wine every night is totally acceptable?

Pick Your Plant, Not Your Poison

Think about how cannabis may have breathed life into your experiences – enhancing, elevating, and complementing them. Imagine weaving in a casual joint to your evening plans, rather than a beer after work. Layering cannabis into your activities like you would choose a vintage for a meal. Selecting a strain and even a method of consuming it is no different from picking your beverage of choice. Consider the type of activity you will be doing, is it active? Social? Solo? And think about how you want to feel, what aspects you would like to enhance. By experimenting with new technologies like vaporizers or concentrates, cannabis consumers can get granular on what they aim to achieve, including the benefits of cannabinoids and terpenes that don’t result in intoxication.

In the brave new world of celebrating cannabis in all its glory, we say enjoy responsibly if you so choose. Embrace it – legalization is almost here, it’s about time we normalize.