Are Canadians #weedwise?

It has been almost one year since cannabis was legalized in Canada, and the landmark legislation continues to find its footing and close the ever emerging loopholes. In the intervening months Canadians have witnessed marijuana shortages, shutdowns and seizures of smaller dispensaries, and a growing desire to understand what the concept of “legal weed” really means.

A.J. Herrington published an article on last Friday discussing the recent  “Get #weedwise” campaign; a statewide mult-platform initiative initiated by California cannabis regulators which seeks to eradicate the illicit marijuana market by creating awareness regarding the risks associated with the purchase and consumption of the herb and its derivatives from unlicensed operators.

One ad in the campaign sums it up succinctly: “What’s in your weed shouldn’t be a mystery. Shop licensed cannabis retailers only.”

Terms such as “counterfeit edibles” have been employed to remind the public that products purchased from unlicensed operators can contain mold, chemicals, and fecal matter. The warnings from the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) dually serve to remind consumers that licensed dispensaries have been lab tested for potency, purity, and safety before releasing their product.

With such an acutely focussed stateside strategy underway, it’s surprising that Canadians haven’t witnessed similar undertakings being enacted by the government.

There have been ads run in the Canadian media which explain the dangers of driving high and the importance of educating the youth about cannabis, but there haven’t been major, countrywide campaigns with catchy hashtags or immediately consumable slogans touting the importance of buying through licensed producers or vilifying the wicked ways of the sneaky herbal underground.

It’s possible that mascots with names like “Larry the Legal Leaf” are on their way.

Perhaps with legalization still in its infancy Canadians can still expect something similar to California’s “get #weedwise” to be put in place to aid in the education of new cannabis consumers and old potheads alike. The unlicensed producers and dispensaries are still being shut down on a regular basis, but many of their patrons are confused as to why they can’t buy marijuana today from the same place they purchased it from last week.

We desperately need more awareness and education as we stumble through this brave new world of legalized pot. People deserve to know why licensed producers have to go through such rigorous screening before providing product to the public – why the need for such strict guidelines have impeded just anyone from being able to peddle their pot-based wares to us all.

Until such time where governing bodies take steps to outline their strategies with stripped down, easy to understand, multi-media sound bites, Canadians may be left with a continued lack of awareness and a possible distaste and distrust for a government-controlled marijuana distribution system.

So, as Canadians, how #weedwise are we?