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Essential Thoughts

Industry leaders share their thoughts on cannabis being deemed essential

During the month of 4/20 we’ve been shedding light on both the progress and pains that exist around cannabis. On our Instagram Stories we’ve shared some of the most common (and outrageous) questions we get asked working in the cannabis industry. But most recently in Canada, we’ve watched cannabis go from illegal to essential. This demonstrates great progress as most cannabis retail stores have remained open, providing both patients and consumers with access to medicine and comfort during difficult times. We checked-in with a diverse group of industry friends, some whose careers spanned both the legacy and regulated markets, to hear their thoughts on cannabis being deemed essential. We welcome you to read through and share your thoughts on what did hearing that cannabis was deemed essential, mean to you? by emailing us at



Head Grower at Carmel Cannabis

Deeming cannabis an essential service is a big deal for us at Carmel. If you would’ve asked any of us 10 years ago if we ever thought this was possible, I’m pretty confident everyone would give you a resounding no. At times like this, I think it’s important to look back at how far we’ve come and pay homage to the pioneers that helped pave the way. When I first received my MMAR license in 2010, I got it from Dr. Kamerman. For those who don’t know, at that time Dr. Kamerman was one of the only public voices who was actively promoting the scripting of cannabis. He put his neck on the line and paid a price for it, losing his ability to practice and dragging his reputation through the mud by consistently being vilified in the media. Had he never scripted the number of medical licenses that he did, we wouldn’t be where we are today. It really isn’t a stretch to say that he disrupted the trajectory of cannabis in Canada by taking his licensing public. Today we deem cannabis an essential service with relative ease, but only on the backs of pioneers like Dr. Kamerman.

Instagram: @carmel.cannabis


Melissa Rolston

Founder & CEO at JADA

Prohibition Mel: She sobbed. She knew this day would come. She didn't know when, or how, or even why, but she knew it would eventually arrive. She wept for all the patients she encountered along their journey through their illness, or to their death. Her tears were not those of sadness but rather pure happiness. Dignified access is something she fought for in the only way she knew how, which at the time was on a micro-level by individually working with patients.

To see cannabis deemed essential meant all the efforts of the activists, patients, growers, medical professionals, those we've lost along the way, and everyone who makes up our cannabis community meant we were finally on the right track towards the normalization of the plant. #BTScannabis

Present Mel: Between working with the Brigade Group and ConquerCOVID19 to ensure #FrontLineHeroes have access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) she took a moment to do a pirouette, squealed, and fired up her volcano in celebration.

Future Mel: Steadfast baby. We made it this far already, ain't no stopping us now!


Matt Maurer

Partner & Co-Chair Cannabis Law Group at Torkin Manes LLP

When I heard that cannabis was deemed essential it was a moment of pure happiness that quite frankly has been missing for the past few weeks. While I fully support physical distancing and measures to plank the curve, I know how much these cannabis businesses mean to the people who own and operate them and the people who work at these businesses. I felt that with some modification (for example moving exclusively to a curb-side pickup or delivery model) the stores could remain operational without compromising our public health objectives. Whether people will admit it or not, cannabis is an essential medicine for so many people suffering from a wide variety of ailments (from moderate to significant). Having cannabis designated essential is not only critical for the people who rely on cannabis on a regular basis but for the businesses that help get the plant all the way from seed to sale.


Andrea Grand

Director of Marketing and Brand at Muskoka Grown

I started my professional journey with cannabis two years ago (my personal relationship started a long time before that!), and prior to that, I watched from the sidelines as my family built Muskoka Grown. From the beginning, I was intrigued by the industry and watched as the entire cannabis space battled for legalization and fair/equal treatment.

Seeing an industry go from illegal to an essential business in less than 18 months is incredible! There is a collective movement in the cannabis industry, a community that bands together as we all fight for similar goals. As a community, we have all worked very hard to break down the stigma, open up conversations and create safe spaces for people to experience cannabis. There is always more to be done, and we will continue to fight for our rights, but the announcement marks an incredible milestone for the industry. Being deemed an essential business is a reflection of our collective voice being heard and potentially a community-level shift in how we are viewed.


Brent Leitch

Executive Chef at Cannabis Cooking Company

It went from illegal to essential in only 18 months. Unreal isn’t it? It’s a rather huge victory in my eyes after personally advocating for cannabis, and enjoying the benefits of cooking with it for quite some time.

I definitely applaud the government for designating cannabis sales as an essential service during this pandemic. I placed an order with the Ontario Cannabis Store and was pleased to receive it only two days later, with standard shipping at that. If you’re like me, you always have multiple cultivars around, so there's no real risk of ever running out. Considering that we're in the middle of a crisis, a couple of days wait to get your cannabis delivered is a pretty decent turnaround time. It's impressive how far prices have fallen since legalization too, definitely several options in the $5 per gram range, which is great to see.

With regards to cooking with cannabis, and everyone doing a lot more home cooking as of late, this is a great time to make your cannabis last by learning to make edibles. Think of this: one gram of cannabis with a potency of 20% THC can be converted into a 200mg infusion, assuming you know what you're doing. If not, check out Cannabis Cooking Company to see what learning opportunities are available. You can make a batch of 20 cookies that are 10mg THC each. Call me a lightweight if you will, but I’m very happy consuming an edible in the 10mg THC range. That’s 20 fun nights of social isolation for me, and if that gram cost me $10, it's a mere .50 cents per experience. Happy Cooking (with our now essential ingredient)!

Instagram: @brent.leitch


Maxim Zavet

President, Co-Founder & CEO at Robes Cannabis

I never had a doubt that medical cannabis was essential but it was extremely important that “recreational” cannabis was also deemed essential because market research shows that a significant amount of people that shop in the recreational market for Cannabis are doing so for medical and wellness associated purposes. Unfortunately in Canada, getting a Medical Cannabis prescription can be a rigamarole whereas recreational cannabis is now much more accessible through dispensaries and the OCS.


Samantha Latham

Director of Trade Marketing | BC Sales for Hybrid Brand Management

Upon hearing that cannabis was deemed essential, I breathed a sigh of relief.

I began my career in cannabis just over four years ago and had the privilege of serving my local Toronto community as a budtender in the grey market. It only took me a couple of days to realize that the stereotypical cannabis consumer was just that, a stereotype. Every ethnic background, every age group and every gender and sexual orientation frequented our shop. It didn't matter if the patron was a stressed parent looking for a way to unwind after the kids went to bed, an elderly medical patient on social assistance who wanted to ease off their pharmaceuticals, a 20-something grabbing joints on the way to a party instead of a 6 pack of beer, or a middle aged woman looking to tackle her opioid addiction in an unconventional way. These were all adults who were choosing to use cannabis for their own, very personal reasons. We never judged and we delighted in helping them navigate the wide assortment of products available.

Fast forward to today and the same segments of our population are using cannabis but now without the stigma of cannabis being illegal. Our industry was already in a state of constant change before the pandemic hit and it will continue to fluctuate and evolve long after. We will continue to celebrate the ups and adapt to and challenge the downs. Today we get to celebrate that our federal and provincial governments have realized what we have always known to be true: our Canadian cannabis industry is essential.

Instagram: @hybrid.brands


A sincere thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts and of course, a HUGE thank you to all the workers who are going into work every day proving that cannabis is essential!

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