Now that weed is legal across Canada, many more Canadians are jumping at the chance to “come out of the shadows” and publicly smoke the herb. A golden age for lighting up with friends, family and colleagues is upon us! But, have you ever wondered (now that it’s okay to wonder aloud)… “What do other stoners do to get high? Does anyone else have weird weed quirks like I do?!“. It’s time to take a look at how Canadians smoke cannabis, from the Maritimes to the West Coast.
Are you a bonafide budtender? Do you dabble in the dankest of dro? Have you ever passed around a pipe full of positively potent pot? Ridiculous alliterations aside, there’s many terms for cannabis and even more ways to smoke it, dab it, hit it, vape it and blaze it (you get it). Canadians are known for growing some of the most potent, flavorful and gorgeous looking weed on the planet, so naturally we Canucks are also an authority on smoking it as well. When your winters can get down to 30 below, and you need to be able to light up but it’s tough to do so in a pair mitts, you do what any resourceful Canadian would do: you invent the fingerless gauntlet mitten (yes, created by Canadians, for Canadians).
Whether you live in beautiful British Columbia, or the craggy cliffs of St. John’s in Newfoundland, there’s probably a local custom for consuming cannabis in your area. In “Bud Country” (BC), grinding up your best looking nugs and showing off your rolling skills with a big fat joint is a favorite way to smoke Mary J. Several thousand kilometers to the East, in Ontario and its neighboring Maritimes Provinces, the pipe reigns supreme. Some weed smoking customs develop out of necessity – like being forced to smoke indoors in Eastern Canada by cold weather and wind, hence the popularity of pipes. Other cannabis tendencies are more associated with cultural norms – for example, Quebecers enjoy mixing tobacco and cannabis in cigarettes, much like their European ancestors.
Whether you like to light up a joint, pack a bowl, hit the bong, or vape to your heart’s content, consuming cannabis is ultimately a very personal experience. You can share your weed-skills with an impressive set of smoke rings, or hide behind a massive cloud of vapor, the choice is yours. What makes how you smoke special? Well let’s look at some of the history of smoking marijuana in this country to understand a bit of the psychology behind the great Canadian blaze.
HISTORY UP IN SMOKE:
The Hazy Story of Cannabis in Canada
Canada has had a strong cannabis culture for much of its history. There’s evidence showing indigenous peoples cultivating cannabis & hemp for hundreds if not thousands of years, across all of North America. Cannabis is known to flourish throughout the globe, but in North America particularly there’s been a long and largely unrecorded history with this wondrous plant. Used for medicine, textiles, building materials and even included in the construction of crude vehicles (hand-pulled carts, plows and various watercraft), both cannabis and its close cousin hemp were relied upon for many First Nations in Canada. Not only was cannabis a practical resource, but it also has a rich history as a spiritual remedy – involved in many rites and rituals, it has held spiritual significance for many peoples in addition to its health benefits as a medicine.
Perhaps because of its spiritual importance to First Nations, many Canadians have adopted cannabis use as a part of their cultural identity. For some, consuming cannabis is not just a way to relax or escape reality, for many others smoking marijuana is almost a religious practice. The plant and its close relatives in the Cannabaceae family (hemp, hops) have an almost cult-like following because of its healing properties. Healing, both medically and spiritually, have often had close ties to one another, and its because of life-changing resources like cannabis that many Canadians are able to live happy, healthy lives.
Just like much of recorded human behavior, many of our spiritual habits lead to advances in technology or drastic societal changes. In the case of cannabis, people began consuming the plant and experiencing the psychoactive effects of THC, which led them to harvest it in the wild, frequently seeking it out as part of their foraging. Eventually, cannabis and hemp were cultivated by Canada’s First Nations, and its uses began to multiply – the plant fibers make for very sturdy footwear, clothing, and even improved weaponry or tools with things like hempen rope.
This trend of cannabis & hemp cultivation continued with the European settlers who began trading for this unique plant when they first landed on North American shores. Hemp was definitely a known commodity to many settlers, but their shock and awe at finding the same plant they used for making hemp sacks and hemp rope among the indigenous folk of Canada was well-documented. Hemp really took off among Canadian settlers, and it was a popular crop for farmers throughout the 1800’s. It wasn’t until the infamous Act to Prohibit Opium & Other Drugs in 1923 that cannabis & hemp were even considered to be of any negative influence on Canadians.
Even though cannabis was thrown into The Act to Prohibit Opium & Other Drugs as a result of pressure from our southern neighbors, this shocked and angered Canadians but it did not completely quash the cannabis culture in this country. The path cannabis took during the 1920’s to 1980’s was similar to that of liquor during its own age of Prohibition. The average Canadian didn’t dare to risk the attention of the authorities by consuming cannabis, but the “black market” developed in response to the lack of a traditional cannabis marketplace. Although cannabis wasn’t a popular choice for medicine during the “Reefer Madness” years of the mid-1900’s, cannabis was still a popular cultural icon for those “rebels of society”. Smoking weed has always had an element of cool, calm defiance in the face of authority, and this cultural identity came to prominence during these early years of cannabis prohibition.
Cannabis also mirrored the progression of tobacco consumption like it did alcohol – two negative comparisons, to be sure, but the consumer behavior is what we are focusing on here. Marijuana has also been unique to other illicit substances in that it has numerous – hundreds, in fact – medicinal applications. Unlike tobacco & alcohol, which have zero beneficial qualities to your health, Cannabis has been used to treat pain, inflammation, insomnia, anxiety, depression and a number of serious conditions like Parkinson’s, epilepsy and even cancer. It is perhaps for these medical reasons that cannabis continued to thrive under the oppression of its illicit status, but regardless of the reasons, Canadians just wouldn’t give up on this one-of-a-kind plant (and we’re glad they didn’t!).
So, with the history lesson in the rearview mirror, what assumptions can we draw about why Canadian smoke weed? It’s been smoked as a medicinal remedy, a spiritual herb, and just for fun or relaxation (like tobacco). Like alcohol, cannabis use was forced behind closed doors, limiting its popularity for decades, but it came to prominence anyway. How did marijuana push through the pressures of the law and become such a cultural phenomenon? How do Canadians consume cannabis today? Let’s take puff and pass it around the whole of Canada and learn about smoking weed in the Great White North.
WHY CANADA SMOKES WEED
Let’s start off with the obvious caveat: Smoking is not good for you. We all know this, we’ve all been informed by our doctors, family, friends, even coworkers. There’s no denying that consuming anything through your lungs, be it decarboxylated cannabis plant material or vaporized cannabinoids. Even incense is, medically speaking, not a positive influence on your health regardless of how little fumes you inhale. Inhaling anything other than air is not what the lungs were designed for, but it’s also a reality of living that you’re going to absorb certain particles (like dust, or liquid molecules) just by living on this messy world we call Earth. Our lungs are very capable filters, which is precisely what they’re job is: to in-take oxygen and filter out the unwanted particles or gases we inhale.
But as is the case for much of human behavior, we like to go against our own nature. Smoking plants, illicit drugs or being around toxic chemicals in the air are all examples of human-made problems. We choose to consume many substances even though we know they’re “bad for us”. With these obvious (but important) points made clear, what can be said for how Canadians smoke cannabis?
If inhaling smoke or vape into our lungs is not ideal, why do we do it? Well, you may as well as ask why we drink coffee, booze, or eat fast food… because it’s fun and convenient. The major reasons smoking marijuana is such a common choice is mostly due to its ease of use, its lower cost, and the accessibility. Convenience is a major determining factor for why we do anything, especially in today’s world of ultra-convenience via the internet, and cannabis is no different.
Convenience is the reason people shop for marijuana at online dispensaries in Canada, it’s the reason we Canucks are such expert cultivators and consumers of cannabis (because it’s easy to access), and it’s why the Federal government of Canada chose to legalize cannabis flowers before edibles & concentrates. Smoking weed is the most popular way to get your cannabis fix, and it has been since indigenous tribes packed the inaugural pipes full of hand-ground cannabis flowers all those years ago.
What other reasons are there for smoking cannabis? We mentioned the cost advantages – concentrates, extracts and edibles can be more pricey than your average bud – but there’s also the world of weed through the connoisseur’s eye. Cannabis is a flowering plant, and like any flower it can vibrantly colored, sensually aromatic or wildly textured. There’s one major sense missing in this equation though: taste. To the average, casual weed smoker a lot of different buds taste the same… But to your experienced stoner? Cannabis flowers are like a fine wine: the earthy textures, woody after-tastes, hints of spice or fruity aromas… the descriptors can fill a room as quickly as a cloud from a chronic vaper.
Taste, smell, sight, touch… you can’t hear cannabis, can you? Well, there’s definitely those avid potheads out there who love the familiar sound of the grinder, or the flick of a lighter and the crackle of the buds as they catch fire… but let’s focus on the other four senses in this article. We’ve covered a lot of the psychology behind why people enjoy smoking weed, and we’ve also touched on the practicality. What’s left? Style & personality.
What makes smoking, especially cannabis, so cool? The answer to this question probably varies greatly among Canadians – some got into smoking cigarettes for the same reasons as cannabis (because it was a popular thing to do), while other vehemently disagree with smoking for any reason whatsoever. Others only smoke marijuana because it’s their medicine, and smoking was just the easiest, most convenient or simplest way for them to get the benefits. No matter what end of the spectrum you fall on, there’s an undeniable style and substance to light up and puffing smoke. Blame it on our insatiable fascination with dragons (we’re looking at you Game of Thrones), or maybe all those volcanoes we’ve seen erupt imprinted on us… In all seriousness, there’s a lot of studies focusing on the psychology of smoking, but without diving too deep into the “oral fixation” theory we’ll stick to the cultural impacts of smoking weed.
Since the days of the Marlboro Man leaning on his newly built fence, tipping up his cowboy hat as he lights a “fresh” cigarette from the conveniently placed pack tucked into his left-breast pocket, many people have had an inexplicable allure to smoking. It’s cool, it’s hip, it’s something to do when you’re stressed, it’s something to pass the time, it’s a habit that can elevate your social status. Smoking is many things, but smoking cannabis has the air of something more: it’s stylish, but it’s also very purposeful as a source of healing. The mythos of cannabis has always swirled around “the right to use” instead of “the choice to consume”; by this we mean it’s considered your right to access cannabis, no matter how that might be, because it’s a medicine. This is one of the fundamental reasons cannabis has such a fervent fanbase. Cannabis activism has always fought for the right to “light up” not only because of stoner culture, but because they believe (and rightly so) that’s this plant changes lives for the better.
Canadians turn to online dispensaries because they WANT to smoke, but also because it’s their RIGHT to. This “stick it to the man” attitude pervades much of the style associated with cannabis. Rebel-culture isn’t unique to just cannabis, but that same imagery is part of what made the Marlboro Man such an effective marketing tool: the life of the outlaw, the outsider, the one we’re supposed to despise but just can’t help but fall in love with.
Many people continue to resist the pull to the “dark side” of cannabis consumption, but thankfully the stigmas are slowly evaporating quicker than a cloud of vapor in the windy streets of Winnipeg. Whether you choose to smoke weed or not, the point is it’s your choice and the choice of others to do so publicly. There’s no more need to hide your marijuana in the nightstand, but for many Canadians smoking the reefer will always have an edge of mystery and intrigue – that’s part of what won them over in the first place.
HOW CANADA SMOKES WEED
Are you an old school stoner? A new age hipster? Perhaps you don’t subscribe to any particular type of smoker, but many Canadians have similar smoking habits. From coast to coast, Canadians get their cannabis from online marijuana dispensaries in many varieties, but most of them choose to light up a joint or smoke from their favorite glassblown pipe. If we had to arrange Canadians into “weed smoker” categories, there’s a few distinct groups that are prominent in certain areas of the country: The Classics, The Casuals, and The Innovators.
Classic stoners are exactly what you’d expect: knowledgeable about cannabis, its health benefits, the many kinds there are, the effects, and seemingly invested in cannabis as a way of life. Whether they’re medicinal or recreational users (probably both), Classic cannabis smokers know what they want and they’ll invest a lot of time and money into getting it. Many of these types of consumers will grow their own, but they’re also some of the most loyal customers for online marijuana dispensaries in Canada. Classic stoners epitomize cannabis culture, and they’re often the most staunch defenders or most outspoken advocates of cannabis in the public sphere. Classics smoke the most weed, but they don’t like paying a premium for it. This category of smoker is found all over the country, but as you might’ve guessed they’re concentrated in the main cannabis hubs in Canada (Vancouver Island, BC Interior, Ontario & Quebec).
Casual smokers are the largest category of weed smokers in Canada. Casuals do exactly as their name suggests: smoke casually, when they feel like it, if the mood strikes, if they’re at a party, if they’re stressed, etc. Casual smokers like the feelings of getting high, but many also have medical reasons for consuming cannabis (pain, insomnia, anxiety). These smokers have a wide range of desires, preferences and motivations for smoking weed, but one of their trademarks is the social aspect of lighting up. Parties, holidays, birthdays, nights out on the town, work events, you name it and these guys and gals are smoking weed at it. Price isn’t their sticking point, but a bit of value goes a long way with Casuals. Quality taste, a good burn and an overall steady high are must-haves for this group of stoners. As they’re the most prominent category of smoker, Casuals exist across all of Canada.
Innovative potheads like this group are not a dime(bag) a dozen; they’re unique, they’re often individual users, and they go to great lengths to experience the highest high they can. Innovators are goal-driven smokers who are often chasing the most potent products with the most sophisticated cannabis technology available. Many are growers of particular strains, and others buy very specific strains of marijuana from online dispensaries. Whether it’s THC or CBD they’re after, Innovators consume large volumes and at steep prices – the main drive is the resulting effects (doesn’t always have to be psychoactive). People who suffer from debilitating ailments or illnesses often fit into this smoker’s category, but many recreational users who just happen to enjoy a solid high more than the rest of us populate its ranks as well. Most innovators choose to dab, smoke shatter, vape, or focus on extracts and concentrates, which is why a lot of them live in larger cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal or Edmonton & Calgary.
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