Harm Reduction

Transcript: The World’s First Microdosing Mushroom Dispensary – Dana Larsen

The Third Wave · October 22nd, 2019

Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Dana Larsen.

Dana Larsen, well-known Cannabis rights activist, joins host Paul Austin to discuss his new microdosing mushroom dispensary in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Dana has fought unjust cannabis laws for several years, opening one of Canada’s first Cannabis dispensaries in 2008. Applying the lessons learned from his path as a Cannabis activist, Dana is now utilizing his valuable experience to destigmatize psychedelics. His goal is to normalize Psilocybin mushrooms for healing and personal growth.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Dana’s path of civil disobedience and why he chose to open some of the first cannabis dispensaries in Canada
  • Why Dana is now using his experience in Cannabis activism and applying it to Psilocybin
  • How Dana makes a living as an activist – and why he wants others to follow a similar path for Cannabis and psychedelics

00:29 Paul Austin: Hey listeners, coming at you from New York City fresh off a weekend at Horizons, the annual conference that’s been going on for 13 years in New York City. This is a conference that I’ve now gone to every year, for the past four years, basically as a ritual to show up, to be in community to see old friends to meet a lot of the people who are now becoming interested in this space, and it’s always inspiring to go back to Horizons to see how things have changed, to see how things haven’t changed, and to be in New York for all of that.

01:00 PA: It’s a great place to have conversation, to connect with people. And if you haven’t yet attended a Psychedelic Conference I highly encourage you to do so even if you have no sort of professional connection to the field. So that being said, we have this week’s podcast with Dana Larsen, who is one of Canada’s most well-known and respected advocates for Cannabis reform and an end to the Global War on Drugs. Dana is a Vancouver Cannabis activist author, businessman and politician, including 10 years as editor of Cannabis Culture magazine and the former Vice President of the Canadian Association of Cannabis Dispensary, Dana more importantly, has also opened the world’s first microdosing mushroom dispensary where he sells microdoses of Psilocybin mushrooms by mail order in Canada only, and to people who have clinical conditions.

01:47 PA: Yeah, I sat down with Dana in Strathcona Park in Vancouver, we shared a couple of joints and got deep into Dana’s path of civil disobedience and why he chose to open some of the first Cannabis dispensaries, in Canada. And how Dana is using that previous experience in Cannabis activism and applying it to Psilocybin. This is a great podcast, and I can’t wait for you to get through it. Anyway, without further ado I bring you Dana Larsen.

02:12 PA: I’m in Strathcona Park in Vancouver, with Dana Larsen, Dana I just wanna thank you for sitting down and chatting with us about your work in civil disobedience, the work that you’ve done in Cannabis activism and now the work that you’re doing with medicinal mushroom stuff. So thank you.

02:24 Dana Larsen: Yes thank you for having me, and it’s great to be in Strathcona Park just a few blocks from what used to be my dispensary for 10 years. I don’t live in this neighborhood right now, but I lived here for a long time, and I love this park and I’m looking forward to talking.

02:38 PA: To me, I see your raison d’etre, if you will, is civil disobedience. So I’ve seen this come up again and again, and I’d love to just start there. What does civil disobedience mean to you?

02:50 DL: I’m lucky enough to live in a country like Canada where you can… Civil disobedience could be an effective tool. In some countries, you try civil disobedience, you in end up in prison for your life, or you get a bullet in the head or whatever. But Canada, I think has a strong tradition of civil rights and civil liberties, and it makes it easier to stand up against unjust laws, like this. And so I’ve been involved in the Cannabis and drug policy reform movement for pretty much all my adult life. I’m getting close to 50, and I started this in my very late teens. And pretty much all my life I’ve made my living one way or another, by breaking the drug laws. I work for Marc Emery for a long time, and he was well known for selling bongs, and pipes, and seeds in violation of Canadian law and helped get some of those things changed. And I’ve also sold seeds, and then opened a dispensary about 11 years ago, now, and I have been selling Cannabis for medicinal and personal use out of there since that time.

03:51 DL: And I do a lot of other events and I have been part of the 4/20 event in Vancouver which is a huge civil disobedience protest and really on April 20th in Vancouver it’s the freest you get for Cannabis anywhere, in the world, there’s no where else on the planet where you can choose for 400 booths within a relatively small area…

04:10 PA: Oh, so it’s an entire like event that’s just like…

04:14 DL: The 4/20 started off with a few people gathered in a park smoking a few joints, listening to some music, can I get a blast, hoping they weren’t gonna get busted. These days we get about 150,000 people, there’s over 400 booths about which 300 which pay a fee to be there, almost all selling Cannabis and Cannabis products, dabs, hash, and now people start selling other stuff too. ‘Cause it’s a bigger cultural event, people do sell t-shirts and pizza slices, and whatnot, and we also give away at 4/20 on 420 hundreds of joints to the crowd, which is a real skill to learn how to give away a lot of joints to a big crowd and not cause a riot. That’s something that we had to learn over the years, and it’s really beautiful. Make everybody sit down and everybody sits down in a group and we all get already for the joint hand out at 4/20 and… But no, there’s no where else on earth I think on April 20th, than in Vancouver where it’s that free, where you can smoke, eat, buy, share and talk about Cannabis as freely as that. And it’s just one day out of the year, but it’s spectacular. And yeah, I think that civil disobedience is very important. It’s not the only ingredient in activism or in making change, but I think it’s an integral one.

05:23 DL: I don’t think that just lobbying or voting, I think those things are very important. I do a lot of political work too, and I work with politicians and run for office, and that, but of all of it, I think the most influential stuff is just creating the change you wanna see. And by breaking the law, in an open and transparent way, and explaining why you’re breaking the law and why it’s a bad law, and being willing to face those consequences, that I think is really the hallmark of principled activism and the most and best way to make change.

05:53 PA: So then, what inspired you to become an activist, what inspired you to… We were just talking about before this, this path between activism and business, and how activism at times can burn… It’s burned me out. How have you continued to do this for 32 years, and still remain… Looks like somewhat sane in the process?

06:12 DL: Well, I think for me, it’s I’ve been able to do so many different varied things on this path. And so, although it’s all centered around Cannabis and drug policy reform, I’ve been able to write books, I’ve been able to help create political parties. The Marijuana Party of Canada and of BC, I’ve been able to start several different kinds of businesses, seed banks, dispensaries, now the mushroom dispensary.

06:37 DL: So for me, it’s been really varied in terms of all the different things I’ve been able to do and enjoy and experience all centered around this goal of ending prohibition, and reintroducing these plant allies back into our culture and to our planet in a positive kind of a way. And I think a key thing is trying to figure out a way to make a living being an activist and it’s not… Not everybody can do that, it’s not always essential, but to me, the people that have lasted the longest and been the strongest and the most influential, they get some kind of a business going. And so much of our effort is about creating a market. We want people to be able to buy Cannabis and other plants and to be able to grow them and to have that happen. And it’s not so much about money, but money is required to make activism work. And if it’s only just paying your own bills, so that you can afford to spend the time doing other stuff, or ultimately to have the resources to hire other people to become activists, or to do this kind of stuff full-time, and you need a financial base for that. And that was something I saw for Marc Emery when he started in Vancouver in the mid-90s, and opened bong shops and by the time bongs and pipes were illegal in Canada.

07:54 DL: And there’s also a financial advantage to being the only guy doing something because you’re the first one and people want bongs and pipes, or they want seeds, or they want Cannabis, or they want microdoses, and if you’re the first and only person offering them, then you can attract a lot of clients. And ideally you want people to mimic and imitate you and to create more. When Marc opened his bong shops, he wrote guides at how to open a bong shop, and we actively encouraged others. And if someone gets busted and all their stuff gets raided, you send them some free stuff. So, even though they’re kinda your competitor, they’re also like, “We’re all stronger together,” and it’s not really about… And ideally, it’s a big enough country and a big enough market that we’re a long way from saturating it anyways, right? So when I hear about other dispensaries getting raided, I try to help them out if I can. Sometimes I know them better and sometimes I try to help them more than others, but… And when we opened our dispensary 11 years ago, my manager Dory and I spent so much time talking to people who wanted to open their own dispensaries. I get called all the time, “I wanna open one too. How do I do it?” And I learned how to give people an answer, and to… I would always say, “Well, find out what their motivation is. Are you just looking to make a lot of money? Or what’s your story?”

09:07 DL: And usually, the ones I’d wanna help more are the ones that are Cannabis users themselves, often they or someone they love, their wife or their child suddenly got sick and they needed Cannabis, then they realized how hard it was to get. And they see a business opportunity to help people, and to make some money and to help that they wish they’d had somewhere to go to when they needed Cannabis for their loved one or for themselves. And so, those people I try to help more. Usually I would say, “Look at the worst-case scenario. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You might get busted depending where you are. You might lose a bunch of money in Canada, you might go to jail for a little while, but you’re unlikely to get years in jail for a dispensary. Here’s the worst case. Do you think you can handle that? If you can’t handle that, then don’t open a dispensary, do something else. But if you can, then here’s how to do it.” And we would take people through our dispensary for hours and show them every aspect of our business, everything we do. We had seminars and taught people and I think… I’m not solely responsible, and I was the third dispensary in the city, I didn’t start the dispensary movement. But I do think that when we opened 11 years ago, it was a threshold point, and that’s the opening after us, it was exponentially more.

10:15 DL: And the first five that opened in Vancouver after us all consulted with me, I gave them all lots of free advice. Some of them made it, some of them are LPs now, some of them have got a whole bunch of dispensaries. Some of them couldn’t hack it and shut down, but… And then that inspires others and build to something that snowballs, something that’s much bigger than I can direct or control anymore or that, have a big influence over. But it’s been wonderful to see. And even though in Vancouver, we’ve definitely gone from a high water mark of dispensaries of over 120 probably down to maybe 30 or 25 or 30 or 35 in the city now, 35 is still a lot more than we had 11 years ago, when it was three. So, depending where you look at, I still think it’s been a big success. And actually, interestingly, in Canada where we’re, I think we’re seeing the biggest growth in new dispensaries right now is First Nations land. There’re some First Nations communities in Ontario, where there’s dozens of dispensaries in a very close proximity to each other, and a lot of tourists and people from other big cities come through and make their purchases there ’cause they’ve been buying tobacco and other items that are there as well over the years. And I think that’s great.

11:22 DL: And I was seeing that here too, in BC and some of these communities are opening up dispensaries and so I… The more access to Cannabis, the better. If we didn’t have several hundred dispensaries in Canada openly selling Cannabis in every major city in defiance of the law, raids seemingly impossible to stop them. If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t have seen the change in the Cannabis laws that we did. And to me, there’s still a lot of flaws in the Cannabis laws and one of the best ways to fix those is to keep doing the civil disobedience and keep using our tactics and they should be… A legal system should be able to compete with the illegal system, really. If it’s properly regulated. If somebody opened up a liquor store says, “This is liquor I grew, made myself, it’s way cheaper than the other stuff,” you probably wouldn’t go there ’cause most of us have faith in the legal system, and so… But with Cannabis, it’s like the opposite. The legal stores have crappy, over expensive, often very poor quality products. People buy Cannabis, I’ve seen some of the stuff from a legal shop and they’ll buy it and it says it was packaged eight months ago.

12:18 DL: So that one gram bud or that pre-roll joint has been sitting in a plastic tube for eight months. There’s no Boveda humidifier thing in there to keep it all nice. So there’s things like that, that make it clearly that the dispensaries in the black market, or the free market, whatever you wanna call it, is still providing better quality product, and at a better prices than that. So anyway, civil disobedience I think is very important and is still the future of activism in Canada.

12:41 PA: So when we talk about activism, we talk about building businesses around activism. The thing that comes to mind for me is nonprofit, so like in the psychedelic space you have organizations like MAPS, in the Cannabis space organizations like NORML. How is your organization and the approach that you’ve taken different from a more traditional nonprofit approach to activism?

13:02 DL: Well, our dispensary is nonprofit society and I always encourage people to create a nonprofit society as your structure. And a nonprofit can sell things, and it can make a profit. And some of them, ours don’t, but some nonprofits you can pay your directors hundreds of thousands of dollars if you want to and so, some nonprofits really are not so ethical in terms of that, but I think I guess see what’s different from us than NORML is that NORML doesn’t operate really as a business, they don’t focus on providing a particular product to people, or the product they provide is information and lobbying and good press releases and media statements and things like that, which are all very useful and important but NORML and groups like that ultimately typically rely on donations and other people to give them money, so they can do the stuff they’re doing. And so I like to be the group that can both be active and help people, and then also give groups like NORML money so they can do what they do. And so that’s been for our dispensary, when we started out, things were pretty slow and it took quite awhile to build and get busier and busier, and now we’ve lost one of our locations, but we’re also quite busy because so many other shops in the city have closed that since our other spot is within the bylaws, and kind of still complying, it’s gotten busier than ever.

14:21 DL: But I guess, that’s what our focus is more business and on providing people the products that they want and that they need. Medicinal Cannabis or now my new microdose dispensary, it’s about buying and selling and making it available and that’s often the hardest par, ’cause that’s what puts you at risk. I’m not the first person to sell mushrooms or Cannabis in Canada by any means, that’s been happening since long before I was born. But putting your name on it and saying, “I’m doing this openly.” That’s the different part, right? And that also I think gives people some confidence to say, “Oh I know Dana, I’ve seen him in the news, and I trust him more than some other website,” which might be a totally reputable on the ball website, but it’s just you don’t know because it’s just some… It might be sketchy people too ripping you off. And so I think having that name attached to it… And that’s what we need, right? If it was legal, then you’d have brands and you’d have faith and you’d pick the right ones and they’d be like any other product, right? Positive reviews, and negative reviews, and all this. But failing that, I think I’m kinda uniquely positioned right now in my life and in the time to move forward on some of these things, and I think I’m just the right person in the right place to launch Canada’s first above ground microdose dispensary like I have, and it’s going really well.

15:39 PA: Obviously, the ability for you to do this has been because of your success with Cannabis and Cannabis dispensary, it’s placed you in a really from what I can understand, unique position to leverage the resources that you have, the network and relationships that you’ve built, the expertise that you’ve gained through experience and apply it. How are you planning to do that with this new microdose dispensary? What can you take from that past experience to go, “Yeah, we can apply it to Psilocybin mushrooms. We can make this happen.” What are some of the specifics of it?

16:06 DL: Well, yeah, I’ve been selling Cannabis for a long time. And the way we sold it has changed over the years, our dispensary started off strictly medical, we rejected a lot of people, we required quite detailed medical documentation, and a couple of years ago we switched that up. We still provide medical Cannabis or medicinal Cannabis as far as I’m concerned, we just is non-prescription. And to me, that doesn’t make it any less medicinal than if you buy aspirin at a pharmacy, you don’t need a prescription. It’s still medicinal aspirin. And to me the context is that it’s medical grade, and that we’re able to provide you with some guidance and medical knowledge. If you go to one of the legal shops in Canada, and you go, “I get migraines or I have this ailment what strain is best me?” They can’t answer, they’re not allowed to discuss any medical aspects. And so, for me, having that decade plus experience selling Cannabis, I wanna use those same tactics when it comes to entheogens. So we restrict it medically and pretty much the same way we did for our Cannabis dispensary. And it’s, for me, it’s sort of like you’re breaking the law, but you’re just trying to chip a piece off so I’m not… If you go right down the middle, it can be too much and you can get in trouble, but if you find the angle, “Okay, it’s a medical only, so that makes it a little less lower priority for the police a little more public acceptable.

17:23 DL: It’s only microdoses.” And I think that really is gonna be a key thing because for a lot of people, they just don’t want anybody getting high. And I mean a macrodose is beneficial and useful, people should have access to them, macrodoses are wonderful, I’ve taken many, myself, but there’s a little more risk involved just because you get a little more impaired and 99.99% people are gonna be fine. But I know if I started selling macrodoses one person is gonna have a car accident, or have some kind of mental problem, and then it’s all gonna be a big issue. And also if a kid eats a microdose nothing’s gonna happen if they eat the chocolate brownie, they’re gonna be fine, but they’re gonna have a really interesting afternoon, and probably the parents are gonna freak out, and the kid’s gonna go to the hospital, and there’s gonna be all kinds of concern and worry, and bad media coverage and all those issues, right? So it’s easier and safe for us to say I’m the first guy doing this and I know that limiting it to medical users for microdoses is still gonna make it…

18:20 DL: There’s still tens of thousands of people out there, probably hundreds of thousands in Canada that would qualify under my current restrictions of access and that’s a great place to start. And with Cannabis, I would always say Cannabis should be legal for all adults to use, but medical users should be at the front of the line for access, right? And so for me, it’s sort of the same with mushrooms and with microdoses and you don’t need to have some kind of mental problem or diagnosis to benefit from taking entheogens or taking mushrooms, but if you’ve got one, you probably benefit a little more and it’s helpful to start with those people who have got some kind of issues and so…

19:00 PA: And those make for really good stories as well. Those are the stories that media will cover and that will look really good. In fact, that’s created a lot of the obviously good recognition around psychedelics that’s going on right now.

19:10 DL: Absolutely I think that the psychedelics and ecstasy, and LSD, and Psilocybin, and entheogens, or psychedelics, or whatever you wanna call it, and pathogens, or some mix of those things, but it’s really in many ways where Cannabis was like, maybe 20, 25 years ago, right? We’ve got the first in Canada, we have something called Section 56 of the criminal code and that is a section that allows the Minister of Health to give anybody an exemption to the drug laws for whatever reason.

19:39 DL: So if you wanna research some drug and go do some study, the government gives you a Section 56. The very first hemp farmers in Canada, they got Section 56 exemptions to grow hemp. And the very first medical Marijuana users in Canada, the very… One of the very first guys using it legally, he asked for one of these Section 56s, the government delayed for years, and then said, “No.” And then he sued them and said, “You have to give me one, I qualify.” And the court said, “Yeah, you have to give him one.” And once he had one, then there was a dozen, then there was 10,000, then the government was like, “We gotta make a different system, because we can’t have everybody applying for this one little loophole, right.” So then they created the whole medical Marijuana system. And it’s taken years and years, but it was that same thing. So right now, there’s two people that have applied for this Section 56, for Psilocybin, they’ve got doctors behind them, they’ve got all the paperwork, and all the stuff they need. They’ve asked several months ago, and they haven’t got an answer yet. Either, they get an answer that’s “yes,” in which case, great, then we’ll all start applying. Or they’ll get a “no,” or quite possibly they just don’t get an answer.

20:42 DL: And after some indefinite time you go to court and go, “Look, it’s been a year and a half, they should have answered by now. That’s basically a no.” And so we’ll be doing the same thing. And I expect we will win that case when it happens, just like we won for Cannabis. And that’ll create that little crack in the door that we can then widen over time with more legislation and more efforts. And it was around that time that those things were happening with Cannabis that the BC Compassion Club Society opened, one of Canada’s very first compassion clubs or dispensaries. And so, I sort of feel what we’re doing is like the other half of that. We got the working in the courts, and the political lobbying. We’ve also got the, just making it happen now by mail order, anyways. And so to me, it’s very similar, and I expect it’s gonna be the same long drawn-out multi-decade process, but also one that ultimately, we’re gonna keep winning in the courts, and in the public every step we go.

21:35 PA: Yeah, and I wonder, you know, with… In the United States, the FDA granted breakthrough approval for Psilocybin. So COMPASS Pathways, this company that Peter Thiel is backing, that’s based out of the UK. I don’t know if they’re one of the groups that applied in Vancouver, but I know they’re working with groups in Toronto potentially. And so I also wonder if that goes as they’re expecting it to from a timeline perspective in 2021, in the United States. I also wonder how that would impact Canada, because Canada obviously, with Cannabis… You know, well, let’s go into that a little bit. What’s your perspective on the relationship that Canada has with Cannabis compared to the United States with Cannabis? So one thing that comes to mind is like, you’re talking about here in Vancouver, some of the dispensaries, they’re… Like the “legal dispensaries” don’t have great weed. Whereas in the States, we live in the East Bay, I can go to a place in Berkeley that’s a dispensary that’s legal, and it’s fantastic, and it has everything that you could want. Why is there that difference? Especially, now that like, Cannabis is federally legal in Canada, why isn’t everything just another step up as a result of that?

22:35 DL: Well, I mean, Canada is different than the States mainly in that we’re just so much smaller. I mean, we’re a much tinier population spread out over a much, much larger area. And so our federal legalization has not been very successful, and really very well received at all by the activist community. You know, most of the people that are really into Cannabis, and we’re fighting, or have gone to jail on their principle stances for Cannabis access, none of us are happy with how legalization is playing out. Now, it’s been less than a year, but you talk about and sort of imagine a legalization where the government says, “You’re right, prohibition was wrong. Cannabis is actually a pretty good plant, and we’re sorry we ever stuttered in the first place. Look, we’re gonna let all these people out of jail tomorrow who shouldn’t have been there. And we’re gonna compensate everybody a little bit.” But none of those things happen. Instead it’s like, “Well, we’re gonna… Cannabis is still really dangerous and bad for kids. And the only way to limit that is to make it legal on a highly regulated fashion. Okay, we’ll give some pardons out for people who did jail time for possession only.” But you can still get arrested for possession now. There’s licit and illicit Cannabis in Canada.

23:48 DL: So what I’m rolling up here, I could be charged for possession of this Cannabis. I did not buy this in a legal government store. I got this from someone who grew it illegally, and so it is illicit Cannabis. And although charges for illicit Cannabis are rare in Canada, ’cause most cops don’t care, and it’s very hard to prove where it’s from. But a guy just got charged a couple of weeks ago for one gram of illicit Cannabis in Toronto ’cause he bought it from a dispensary that the cops have been trying to shut down. They’ve been putting giant cement blocks in front of these dispensaries in Toronto. There’s a one called Cafe, and they got a chain, and they are persistent man, these guys. And so they keep reopening again when the cops raid them, so the cops put giant, huge cinder… Like, huge cement blocks piled two on top of each other, just blocks out the whole front of the building, the door, and everything else. One of them, they actually sealed someone in, a guy who was living there in the apartment above, but he couldn’t get out of the building, the police had to come and move the blocks out of the way.

24:43 DL: But this group, they just move the blocks themselves or they just set up a table out front. And so they had a table set up out front, this is after legalization, people are lining up to buy Cannabis from an illegal shop of their own volition ’cause the legal shops are no good. There aren’t very many of them, first of all, and the ones that are there are not very good. So the cops busted one of the guys in this line up for buying a gram of Cannabis. The idea that you can be charged for possession of illicit Cannabis post-legalization is kind of absurd. But I think one of the key problems is that they limited the grow and cultivation licenses, and made it so hard to get a permit to grow that you had to have millions of dollars invested. You had to have political contacts. A lot of these big companies have got former prime ministers, and former premier… It would be like, if George W. Bush was running a cana… Or like on the Board of Directors. Or even…

25:37 PA: Or John Boehner is… John Boehner is, right? The Kentucky dude, or…

25:41 DL: Yeah, or even George, the first George.

25:44 PA: George HW Bush.

25:45 DL: Because it’s like Brian Mulroney, Prime Minister in Canada during the 1980s, best friend of Ronald Reagan, he introduced laws that banned bongs, pipes, Cheech and Chong movies, and grow books from Canada.

25:56 PA: Cheech and Chong movies?

26:00 DL: He banned any video or written material that advocated for illicit drug use.

26:02 PA: The absurdity of this is just crazy.

26:04 DL: And of course, Chong’s a Canadian, now a Canadian hero really, but, yeah, he passed these laws, very strict, one of the harshest drug warriors in Canada. The first Canadian prime minister to use the phrase “war on drugs,” which Reagan was also bringing up big in the US, right? He was Reagan’s buddy. And now he’s on the board of directors of a big Cannabis company, and they’re like, “I don’t see any… It’s legal now.” It’s like, “Yeah, but you were the guy who… You could have made it legal.” It’s very… And there’s a lot of police… There’s police officers who were also in the government for the Conservatives who were saying, “Legalizing Marijuana is like legalizing murder.” And now that it’s legalized, they’ve got a legal Cannabis company, so it means if we legalize murder, these guys would start a murder-for-hire company. They have no ethics, in terms of like… I always respect somebody more who’s like, “I was always against Cannabis, and I always am… I still am.” At least they’re consistent. With someone who makes a career out of arresting, and charging, and busting people for Marijuana, then as soon as it’s legal, they continue to demonize those same people and say, “Don’t buy it from those bad Hell’s Angels, buy it from me. You can trust me, I’m a cop.” That’s the worst kind of people. So, legalization in Canada, I think there’s not enough legal Cannabis out there, and legalization should really mean a big drop in the price too.

27:23 DL: The only way to really defeat the black market or replace it or whatever, is to make Cannabis so cheap and affordable that we can’t persist. And I’ve always said, “I’d love for my dispensaries to go out of business, not because the police raided us and put us in jail, but because there’s so many legal shops out there, and their quality is so good, and their prices are so low, that my crappy weed can’t compete anymore ’cause they’re just off the scale, right?” That would be victory, but we’re a long way from that happening. They’re about to legalize edibles, and extracts, and things in Canada this fall. We’re approaching a federal election, and it’s looking kinda iffy whether the Liberals are gonna stay in power or not. The Conservatives will not be able to undo legalization, but they will definitely be able to slow it down and cause a lot of problems. So, to me, it was sort of a half-assed kind of a legalization that didn’t really begin with acknowledging that prohibition itself is the real problem. And if you can’t admit and acknowledge the real problem, then the solution… You’re not gonna get the real solutions. They’re still treating Cannabis as a dangerous, harmful, bad substance that needs to be way more tightly regulated than alcohol is, and that is just not gonna create a satisfying legalization. So, this level I’m working in…

28:39 PA: Sometimes with national politics, big, state-level politics, particularly for countries like Canada, particularly for countries like the United States, it is, for people like us, as individuals who are more activist-minded, who wanna see progress, and see things fast we do operate from these ideals. And I think the unfortunate element of politics is ideals always fall short. There’s always some level of compromise on the collective level. And I think it’s important to acknowledge that there have been, obviously, many positive steps in the right direction, in large part because of activists, and that it really will take a collective effort to ensure that this happens in the right way, and unfortunately it takes time. And to continue to talk about this is important…

29:26 DL: Yeah, for sure.

29:27 PA: But it does just for some of these things, it’s a time… It’s a patience-driven effort, right.

29:30 DL: Well, time and effort. Time and effort.

29:30 PA: Right, time and effort. Absolutely, yeah, it’s not just time.

29:34 DL: But I do… There’s definitely positive things. The number of possession arrests in Canada is gonna drop down, not to zero where it should be, but definitely like double digits, maybe triple digits. It’s not gonna be the 60,000 arrests a year anymore. And most of the enforcement of Cannabis is possession arrest, and most of those are indigenous people, poor people, marginalized people, people in the North of Canada. The further north you go, the laws are enforced way more strictly, and not coincidentally, the more indigenous the population tends to be. So, in the Northwest Territories, in Nunavut, the far North of Canada, the arrest rates for possession and trafficking are 100 times higher per capita than they are in other parts of the country, just way off the scale. And so, we don’t really notice it in Vancouver where, if I’ve been smoking this joint in this park last year before legalization, the response would have been exactly the same, that nobody cares. People walk by, it doesn’t matter. And I’m still not legally allowed to smoke this joint in this park now, not because of federal law, but because of provincial law and municipal by-laws that still forbid any Cannabis use in public places and that. So there’s still a lot attached to it, but…

30:42 PA: So we’re practicing civil disobedience at the moment?

30:46 DL: Well, I do.

30:47 PA: Is that fair to say?

30:48 DL: I wish… I understand there should be some regulation on where you can smoke. And I’m not a huge fan of tobacco smoke, although it should be allowed as well, but this is a giant park we’re looking around and surely, there could be one spot somewhere where they have a pole saying, “Smoke within five meters of this pole is allowed.” I’m very confident they could see the wind normally blows this direction. Why not have… I don’t think the whole park should be all smoking, all the time, everywhere, and every park, forever, but if there was a spot, if I knew, “Oh, no, we’re just gotta go over here to smoke in that spot,” we would go over there, as long as it wasn’t some bad spot.

31:19 PA: And then you meet other stoners over there, the people who are also smoking a joint. You can hang out with them, you make new friends.

31:24 DL: And there will be no harm in that, right? But instead they go for this blanket prohibition and this continued sort of stigmatization of Cannabis and Cannabis users in a lot of ways. So the federal government said you can grow four plants legally per household. They were gonna limit them to one meter tall, and they decided that’s too hard to enforce, forget that, so, great. However, two provinces, Quebec and Manitoba, have banned home cultivation at the provincial level, and we’re not even sure they’re allowed to do that. There’s gonna be like a big constitutional court case about whether they have the power to totally ban that stuff. Then British Columbia, which should be Canada’s most pot-friendly province, and they passed a law here in BC saying nobody can see your plants from public space. So, if you’ve got it on your balcony or peeking over a fence in your backyard, if somebody on the street can see your plant without needing a telescope, you can go to jail for three months and get a $5000 fine. I don’t see the harm in somebody seeing your Cannabis plant, and most cops aren’t gonna worry about that. But we actually just had a case recently, like, two weeks ago.

32:29 DL: In a little town called Revelstoke, they have this Art and Garden Show, where local artists put their art up in local gardens and the community can come by and look, and it helps support local community stuff, right? And this one couple had three legal Marijuana plants in their yard, they did the home and the art garden tour, off-duty RCMP officer comes through, sees it, “It’s a blatant violation of the Cannabis Act,” and he goes and gets a warrant and a judge gives him a warrant. This couple comes back to their home a few days later there’s three cop cars parked in their driveway, five cops have been searching their home for two hours for the three plants that are in the front yard, they’re legal plants, all they had to do really… They should have said nothing, but they could have also gone there and said, “Look, these points aren’t supposed to be visible during the garden tour. Could you just put like a screen up or hang a blanket over? They would have said, “Fine, we’ll put a blanket over,” and then any harm from anybody seeing these plants would have been alleviated. Even that is dumb, but that would have been the reasonable response if you are concerned about enforcement, right?

33:30 DL: But no, they cut down the three plants, they were ready to charge them with this Act and the community outcry across the province was so… It got stories all across the country. It was on Canada’s national news, Radio Show, it was a huge thing and it just shows that and the people that pass these laws are like “Well people should inform themselves with the law,” and it’s like, “Who, why… ” it’s very frustrating that you get legalization on one level then all the other levels of government all start putting in their own prohibitions and bans. And so it’s definitely… I still think that the October 17th legalization Day, it was a positive step for our movement, and it was a necessary thing, but it’s also… It’s frustrating that we still have so much work to do, right? But every social movement is like that, you never get victory all at once, you go a long way from sodomy not being illegal to getting gay marriage, you go along from ending slavery to having Jim Crow laws, and it still… These things take very long time. So to me, it’s like one step on a very long journey which is gonna take decades to go through.

34:34 PA: Well, and be grateful that you don’t live in the UK because they haven’t made any progress. So it goes to show that in some ways, it’s great how progressive Canada has been, and in many ways Canada has been the most progressive from a federal level.

34:50 DL: But yeah, we have a lot of work to do, in terms of advancing things, and I think that public opinion is on our side, and I think a lot of it is the police, and the police lobby and the power of the police. And legalization in Canada included a huge boost in police budgets and they basically bought off the police, the police are the biggest complainers. Legalization is gonna mean traffic accidents everywhere and stoners corrupting our kids, and they was like, “How much money do you need to shut up?” And they just gave all the cops a bunch of money and the cops… And now a lot of the police reports are saying like, a lot of the stories are legalization didn’t… Wasn’t such a big deal police chiefs, say right?

35:31 PA: Imagine that.

35:32 DL: It turns out, it wasn’t such a big thing, right? But they all got a lot… And really it is probably all around North America, but in Canada, certainly over the last 20 years, our police budgets are eating up more and more of our public services, in Vancouver too, they keep… It’s like 30% now, the whole city budget or something goes to the police and I would have thought, Marijuana legalization is a great chance to cut down the police budget by 15%, lay off some of those narcotic squad officers or whatever, or at least just keep it equal, and focus more on “real crimes.” But instead they all get extra money. So the police are the biggest lobbyists against legalization and whether it’s because they know that their jobs are at stake, or whether they honestly only see like the really bad, they don’t really see drug users that have it together as much or what it is, but… And a lot of individual cops are great. Right? It’s the institutions, associations of chiefs of police, the RCMP that lobby for these things and they are the biggest lobbyists for prohibition in Canada, and I think in the US as well.

36:35 PA: Yeah, the DEA is certainly a corrupt organization. That’s been the fact since its inception really, in the late ’60s, or early ’70s. The amount of money that’s wasted by these bureaucratic organizations waging a war on something that you can’t really wage a war on…

36:52 DL: They’re having ways of hurting people and causing a great deal of harm. It’s all so…

36:56 PA: One, it’s an ex-iteration of Jim Crow in many ways, it’s an ex-iteration of at least in the United States, massive incarceration of blacks and…

37:03 DL: It’s the same, and Canada history’s a little different, but we’re racist in just slightly different ways or whatever historically, but we had slavery in Canada, but not to the extent and the history of the US, it did. But… And we think we’re so… Oh we didn’t, we still had slavery in Canada, it just wasn’t as much, which was more probably just due to economics and a climate than to any moral superiority. In fact, Canada’s war on drug use really began in Vancouver. In many ways the building that I work in, the Dominion Building on Hastings and Cambie which is now kind of the pot block that’s where a woman named Emily Murphy wrote a book called The Black Candle, which was highly influential in Canada to start our war on drug users and it was all intertwined with the Chinese and the blacks, wanna dominate the white race and they’re gonna do it with drugs.

37:47 DL: And there was a very popular novel called, The Writing on the Wall, that was a best seller in Canada in the early 19-teens or whatever, 1910, 1920, was about how the Chinese, it’s about a white couple of bureaucrats in Canada who become opium addicts, and then the Chinese used them to infiltrate Canadian society, and by the end of it were controlled by the Emperor in Beijing or whatever. And this was a very real, it wasn’t a fear-based in reality, but it was a very real fear that whites were gonna be dominated by blacks with reefer and by Chinese with opium, and of course, historically, it was the Europeans and the British that pushed opium into China during the Opium Wars, and forced them to take opium, which the Chinese government didn’t want. The lesson there is also that prohibition didn’t work for the Chinese either and ultimately made the British a lot of money, but then this idea that…

38:39 PA: So why is that? Why is it that we’re associating or… We have historically, white people have associated drugs with people we don’t like, or people that… What’s… Where does that association come from, do you have any idea?

38:52 DL: Well, I think it was true that Chinese were using opium more than other groups were just like… And if they had the runs maybe they would have banned alcohol because the Europeans were drinking way more alcohol than other groups were typically, they were the biggest drinkers. A lot of whites used opium, a lot of Chinese drank alcohol, but it was kind of a cultural aspect to it. And I think that it’s easier to be against an activity than it’d be against just a race or whatever, right? It’s more acceptable to be saying, “We were against opium smoking ’cause it’s bad for your health.” And that then they say, “We’re just against Chinese because we don’t like Chinese people because they make me feel uncomfortable,” or whatever.

39:27 DL: And I think as the drug war developed and during the Nixon times, and the Reagan times, and that it was much easier to put in a racist policies based on drug war. And also I think maybe for Nixon, and that, it was also anti-war groups and stuff, ban Marijuana and focus on that. It’s the way of targeting those kind of groups without explicitly naming those things. And for a lot of these substances, they’re used by everybody. So you can just decide who you want to enforce it on and who you don’t want to enforce it on, right? But there’s certainly… I think there was some truth to the fact that certain ethnic groups tended to use more certain substances ’cause of their cultural history than others. But the idea that they were there for bad substances or something is insane.

40:13 DL: And really of all the things that people were using in Canada in 1910, alcohol is still the far, far more dangerous one, right? People were using Cannabis, people were using opium, people were using cocaine, people were using alcohol. And the only one that’s still legal and supported at every level of government is alcohol. And it’s by far the more dangerous one, right? Using legal and regulated opium in known dosages is way better for your health than alcohol in regulated known dosages, right? Anything can be harmful in the wrong way, but smoking opium is better for you than drinking alcohol, generally speaking.

40:47 PA: Generally speaking.

40:48 DL: Yeah. Or at least in the same range of kind of health. It’s not great for your liver, for your whole life. Smoke a ton of opium, not great for your liver, your whole life; drink a bunch of alcohol either, right? And certainly, behavior-wise, alcohol induces people to more…

41:00 PA: Extraversion.

41:02 DL: Yeah, more anti… But also more anti-social… I mean extraversion in some ways, but also sometimes an anti… Like violent…

41:10 PA: Violent or angry or impulsive or…

41:10 DL: And you’re bringing up, you’re doing things you might not otherwise do.

41:13 PA: Irresponsible or…

41:14 DL: Or lowers your inhibitions which can be good and if you are inhibited and you wanna lower them, but it can also lower your inhibitions towards doing things that you regret doing afterwards, right? And you wouldn’t maybe have done that. You might have thought about it, and then said, “No, I’m not gonna do that,” but once you’ve been drinking, you do, do it. And opium doesn’t lead to those kind of behaviors, right? But this racial aspect of things, it was so intrinsic to why prohibition began, and how this all started. And in Vancouver they just had apologies to the Chinese community for all the shitty stuff we did to them, but the one remnant of that is drug prohibition that they don’t really talk about.

41:51 DL: And ironically, now in Vancouver, and that actually the Chinese are some of the biggest proponents of prohibition. And so it’s kind of a sad situation where the group… These opium laws were written to punish and deport Chinese people from Vancouver, and from Canada, in general. And now the biggest supporters of these anti-drug laws are the Chinese community. And I think they internalized a lot of that racism and perception against them, and were like, “Well, you know opium is really bad. And people that do it are bad,” and kind of it’s interesting how that happens culturally, right? Where you get this kind of internalization of things. But we need better drug policies.

42:32 PA: We need better drug policies.

42:35 DL: That are no longer born in racism and ignorance and bigotry. But that are using science and logic and…

42:41 PA: Science is important.

42:41 DL: Understanding of human behavior, which our drug laws just do the opposite of.

42:45 PA: Dana, I have a bit of a tangent of a question. What’s your favorite drug or substance, or medicine, or whatever, anything you used, or…

42:50 DL: I use Cannabis all day, every day, pretty much. So that’s my favorite one, right? But I use a variety of things, and I’ve been microdosing more now, at last, in a while ’cause I have access to it, and I’ve been thinking about it more. And so I’ve been taking those more, and I do enjoy the effects and feel it’s beneficial. And I’ve had some wonderful experiences on Ayahuasca. I’ve done Ayahuasca ceremonies, and I had very profound experiences and things that I’ll remember my whole life and that definitely touched me in large ways. When I was in my really late teens, early 20s I used to do a lot of LSD and I would take LSD every few days, really. And probably taking over a hundred…

43:30 PA: Microdose or…

43:31 DL: Oh no, macrodose. I didn’t really even know what about microdose concept at that time. I’ve done probably over a hundred LSD trips, partly ’cause it was so cheap and accessible, right? I would do mushroom sometimes, you could buy a sheet of acid for 200 bucks. And that’s just a little tiny bit of something, that can have a lot of good times on that, right? So…

43:45 PA: LSD is my favorite for sure.

43:47 DL: Yeah. Nowadays, I don’t do it so much partly because I said I feel like I’ve gone through that doorway and partly because it’s very time consuming, like it lasts a long time, right? Whereas smoking a bowl of DMT very different experience than LSD obviously, right? But also you can fit it into your day a lot better if you’re a parent and you got a job, and you got stuff to do, you can’t be just wandering around looking at your hands and hugging trees for the whole day, right?

44:11 PA: Gotta get that DMT vape pen, you know? That’s 15 minutes and you’re there.

44:14 DL: Yes. And for me LSD was usually a two-day thing. But usually the next day I’d wanna kinda take it easy and eat a lot of fruit and sort of the comfortable things.

44:20 PA: Have you tried 4-AcO-DMT?

44:24 DL: I’m not… Is that a particular… I’ve smoked…

44:25 PA: It’s a Psilocybin analog, it’s a tryptamine like Psilocybin is. It’s something that a lot of people who were in the States because Psilocybin is still illegal in many places. 4-AcO-DMT is like an analog so it’s a synthetic but it’s very, very similar. It’s like the difference between 1P-LSD and regular LSD. And here in Canada, you can order those “legally,” it’s a very much a grey market area.

44:47 DL: ‘Cause it’s not scheduled.

44:49 PA: For research purposes because it’s not scheduled. And so, I’ve experimented that… With that a little bit, and that is my new favorite because it has the same sort of clarity and crispness that LSD has, but it has all of the emotional opening that mushrooms has, and it’s only six hours. So it’s a really nice LSD trip, but it’s just six hours and you don’t get some of the funky stuff that you can get into with higher doses of shroom.

45:10 DL: One of the things about prohibition is it’s made people have to be very creative in designing new substances and finding ways around the rules and that… There was a point in Canada’s drug laws in the ’90s where they tried to put an amendment and saying, “We’ll ban all this stuff and we’re also banning anything else that has an effect like that stuff,” so that they could then include every other… All these other analogs and things, but the reality is, everything can kind of get you high, and drunk and affect you if you do enough of it, right? Water. Drink enough water, it’s got an effect kind of like alcohol or whatever and you can… So almost every substance. So would have ultimately just banned everything, right?

45:47 DL: And it also kinda shows that idea to me that just banning stuff that gets you high. They don’t wanna ban stuff that’s bad for you, they just wanna ban stuff that makes you feel a certain way. And regardless of whether that law wasn’t about whether it’s harmful or not, now you can go and buy a rat poison, you can inject rat poison in your veins. That’s totally legal, you’re allowed to possess unlimited quantities of rat poison, you can make it on sandwich, you can eat it, you can do whatever you want with it. It’s not against the law. Even though it’s terribly bad for us, it’s not about health, right? Whereas substances that really have no harm and often benefits but certainly don’t harm from Psilocybin or whatever, everybody says it’s the safest substance, right? Even maybe safer than Cannabis in many ways. It’s not about harm, it’s about we don’t want you feeling… We don’t want you thinking those thoughts or feeling that way ’cause that’s… Usually it’s ’cause that’s not what God wants you to be thinking, it’s what the ultimate kinda…

46:38 PA: Pure technical, sort of traditional approach that’s baked in.

46:41 DL: Underlying thing. And they don’t always wanna say that, right? But usually it’s like Jesus doesn’t… Jesus cries when you get high and…

46:47 PA: Well, that’s still way more “mainstream” or relevant to mainstream cultural discussion, than people even like myself think because the people that I interact within the worlds that probably you’re in and I’m in are much more indifferent than someone who lives in Saskatchewan, or Michigan where I’m originally from. So that’s also something that like, there’s more and more divergence, but there’s a bigger sort of… There’s more and more extremes that seem to be occurring as well in terms of mindsets and approaches and whatever else.

47:15 DL: I think that drug use is still the most stigmatized thing. A tweet from a woman who’s a lesbian, and she said, “I’ve come out to my… Coming out to my parents about being a lesbian was difficult. I’ll never gonna tell them how much drugs I take, or that I take drugs at all, right?” What do you… That’s way more stigmatized, and not to diminish the effort or the challenge people have being LGBT or how much stigma or demonization happens to that community, but certainly there’s a lot of places where no one care… Your drug use is still way more stigmatized and people will openly advocate for the death of drug users. Usually opiate users and stuff, but very commonly, right? Just like they would do about AIDS. People with AIDS, they would… All these terrible jokes that… Just it’s genetics and Darwinism, we’re better off if these deviants be dead, and that idea around drug users, I see that so often when they talk about harm reduction or overdose prevention sites. It’s better if they all just die. You choose to do that, then you deserve death or it’s just… It’s Darwinism and all that and this kind of thing is very just dehumanizing.

48:23 DL: But at least in Canada, and the US, for the most part, I know you got some backward states there, but in Canada, every level of government is on-board with LGBTQ rights, to varying degrees. Some more than others, but nobody out there is ever saying anything bad ’cause that’s part of the mainstream now, right? But there’s still official government policy that drug users are bad. They should be jailed, they should be in prison, they should be ostracized, they’re after your children, they’re trying to convert your children and it’s a lot of the same rhetoric. And with intersectionality, often the ones who are most persecuted for drug stuff are often people that are LGBT or that are marginalized in other ways or people of color and whatnot, and it’s the last remnant where the government still has an official kind of hate campaign.

49:06 PA: Yeah.

49:06 DL: And we’re starting to see that change…

49:07 PA: It’s changing.

49:07 DL: But it’s not changed yet.

49:08 PA: It’s change… It hasn’t changed yet. We’re still probably 10 to 15 to 20 years away from that being…

49:12 DL: We’ve legalized in Canada but not… Only one politician in Canada will admit that he smokes Marijuana.

49:17 PA: Really? That’s it?

49:18 DL: And that’s like a liberal backbencher federally, who…

49:20 PA: That’s it?

49:21 DL: And he won’t pose with a plant or with a joint or anything like that. And I know a lot of politicians smoke weed, I’ve smoked weed with a lot of them.

49:28 PA: Barrack Obama smoked weed, right?

49:30 DL: Yeah, and he admitted he’d done it before. Now, Fairmont will say, “I used to do it.” That’s not so, and partly because if it were somebody else…

49:35 PA: Obviously Barrack Obama still smokes weed.

49:36 DL: Barrack Obama… And he was part of the Choom Gang, right? They were the Choom Gang. They were into smoking weed. But saying you smoked it in the past is not so uncommon and, of course, you can’t really deny it ’cause usually you smoked it with your friends and they’re gonna out you anyways once you’re president or whatever, but being a current user is no longer a crime in Canada. A lot of politicians I know who don’t drink wine will pose with BC Wine and be like, “Support the BC Wine industry.” Not one of them will even pose with a live plant and say, “Support the BC bud industry.” It just shows to me how much stigma there still is against the thing that’s now legal.

50:08 PA: How many years until Barrack Obama comes out about his Ayahuasca experience, do you think?

50:13 DL: I don’t know, I don’t think he’s ever refused to ever done that or not, but I mean…

[chuckle]

50:16 PA: No, I was just wondering, my point in saying that is, I feel like psychedelics, they seem to be riding this wave of… After Michael Pollan’s publication, this wave of interest from people like that. People who are…

50:30 DL: Trump could use a big Ayahuasca experience.

50:32 PA: Yeah, that would be interesting. I wouldn’t wanna be there. I think that would require a really experienced shaman.

50:36 DL: It needs a lot of healing energy, right?

50:39 PA: That would require a really experienced healing. Can you imagine, who could… I don’t know if anyone could handle that. Trump on Ayahuasca?

50:48 DL: He would need a big dose. He would need a really big dose.

50:48 PA: He would need at least four cups.

50:49 DL: He would need a really big dose to break… There’s a lot of walls to break.

50:50 PA: Yeah, at least four cups of yagé. Fly ’em down to Columbia. Okay, let’s end this thing, and I wanna hear about the microdosing dispensary. What’s the current buzz in Vancouver? What sort of backlash? What sort of support you’ve gotten? What sort of success stories? Tell us a little bit about the story so far.

51:06 DL: So, it’s been about two months, I guess. I announced I’m doing microdose mushrooms by mail order in Canada, I’ve got mushroomdispensary.com. You gotta have some kind of medical certification or ailment proof to become a member. And I limit how much I sell at one time, and I try to sort of control it like that. And when I announced it, it got a fair amount of media. And there’s a City Councillor in Vancouver named Melissa De Genova, and she’s one of the more right-wing party councillors. And we spar a lot on other stuff. She’s really against 4/20 and she was trying to shutdown all the dispensaries, and so, she kind of represents that end of the spectrum. And really, she helped me get a lot of media and publicity. Because whenever there’s controversy, that gets you more attention and more customers. So I don’t really mind a certain amount of pushback ’cause it’s sort of what you need. But when I announced it, I said, “I’m gonna open a store front, eventually, in a few months. But for now, it’s mail order only.” And so, the storefront, that really… She was like, “Well, we gotta… ” So she’s got a special bylaw. Basically, the Dana bylaw or whatever, that they’re gonna be… A motion that they’re gonna be debating on September 11. Which is sort of to get the staff to look at ways of stopping these illicit places from opening, and trying to shut us down.

52:13 DL: But it’s a city where they vote unanimously to oppose prohibition. They vote unanimously to destigmatize drug users. They have minutes of silence, and they all hold hands and say, “We gotta end the opioid crisis.” ‘Cause it’s people are dying. Four people a day, in Vancouver, from the opioid overdose crisis. So they call for a safe drug supply. Now, they’re really talking about opioids more, right? But they say a safe drug supply. Well, I would love to open an opium dispensary, and I’m working on that. Maybe you can come back in six months. If I get that going, we can talk about that. Microdoses of mushrooms is about as safe of a drug supply… From a reputable person putting their name on it. It’s a very safe drug supply. There’s some people… If you wanna get off other drugs, microdoses can help. It’s not a universal solution for everybody, but they definitely help. But it’s a safe access kind of thing, and to me, I hope that this motion kind of gets amended to be more about how they can help. And yeah, maybe they wanna put in certain rules and they don’t want you in certain parts of the city. They want you to do this and that. As long as the rules are reasonable, we’ll follow them. And I’d rather they put those rules in place before I open, instead of 10 years after I open. Like they did now, where they shut me down 11 years later, saying, “Well, now we’re passing rules that retroactively don’t let you be here.”

53:17 DL: So maybe it’ll work out good, this thing. But I’m hoping to open a store front, and I really want to… We’re offering Cannabis. We’re gonna be offering microdoses, and I wanna offer other medicinal plants too. Kratom is also really wonderful. I’m sure a lot of your listeners are well aware of the benefits of that. It’s also something kind of in a gray area, in Canada. I’d love to start making that. I kinda do make it available now. I buy it, I just give it away to my friends and they kinda give it away to other people.

53:39 PA: What’s the legal status of Kratom?

53:42 DL: Kratom. Also, half of the time I pronounce it Krat-um, half of the time I pronounce it Kray-tom.

53:45 PA: Me too. Yeah, yeah. Me too.

53:47 DL: I think it’s supposed to be Kray-tom, but my mouth wants to say Krat-um and I never know exactly. So I’m never sure how to pronounce… I noticed you were pronouncing it differently. I’m never sure how to pronounce it either. I’m always kind of torn on it.

53:56 PA: What is it?

53:57 DL: But it’s legal to possess and to sell in Canada, but you can’t sell it for human consumption. So I can sell it to you as an incense or as a whatever, right? But to me that’s just… It’s like selling a bong for tobacco use only. Which happened a lot in the Canada in the ’90s. And you got your Bob Marley poster up and we know you’re a head shop, and you’re selling all this weed stuff. But your bongs are tobacco use only? I understand why they did that, but I don’t wanna have to pretend. And they have raided… I mean, they raided… There was a shop, a head shop in Saskatchewan, a couple of months ago that was selling Kratom, as well as bongs and pipes and stuff. And they got raided and all their Kratom got taken.

54:33 DL: So, I’d love to make that available more too, and all these kind of things. And so, I think for me, kind of starting with the safest smallest dosages, restricting it in some way. So that you’re sure that the people that are getting it are those who need it, and not just wanna… Nothing wrong with doing it for fun, but it’s more legally defensible if there’s some kind of medical aspect to it. And like I said, I’d love to be able to make opium available. So the mushroom thing, I’m hoping in a few months we have a store front in Vancouver, people can come in-person. But mail order, ultimately, let’s me reach all 35 million Canadians. I do get a lot of requests from the US that I have to turn down. I wish I could help them, but the risk there is just too much. But if someone in the US wants to start a reputable mail order, microdoses out of Oakland or Denver or something, is brave enough to do that, I’ll refer people to you because I get a lot of requests.

55:20 PA: Well, and you have experience doing this because this is what you do with Cannabis, right?

55:23 DL: Yeah, so I’ve been selling Cannabis by mail and in-person and through my dispensaries for well over a decade. And we’re just mimicking that same kind of model. I took the same forms we used to use at our dispensary to judge medical need and documentation, and we just kinda copied all that over, right? So it’s the same model. And that’s also why I think it’d be good in court, because that model worked for us, legally, in court when it came to Cannabis. And the mushrooms, there’s all the same evidence. It’s different, but there’s all the same evidence. The same quality of evidence is there, for Psilocybin and microdosing and all that.

56:00 DL: And really, I think it’s even safer because no one’s getting high. And so, it’s even different than Cannabis where there’s some psycho activity or whatever. So anyway, I think it should be even more winnable in court, really, in that way. Right? So, hoping I don’t have to go to court, and we can just open a store front and do our thing and make it possible. But if we do have some problems… I don’t want to risk the Vancouver Police coming and raiding me. They don’t really wanna deal with stuff like that, they know… And microdoses, they know it’s not gonna really even go to trial. But I might have trouble getting a business license. I might have Health Canada coming and knocking on my door, and they might send their… Health Canada can send their own people in, separate from the cops, to do their own stuff. Right? So, maybe that’ll happen, but we’ll see what happens.

56:41 DL: I’m not really that worried. I’m old enough now, and I’ve only ever spent one night in jail for this. I was giving away Cannabis seeds in Calgary. I got arrested for trafficking in free, low THC Cannabis seeds, and I spent one night in jail in my over 30 years of breaking the law and doing stuff. I also thought I was just skirting things just enough, right? Seeds are illegal, but you can buy seeds at two dozen places in Calgary of every variety you want. And I was giving away low THC CBD variety. Everybody gets a high? I’ve given away over 10 million of these seeds in the last four…

57:11 PA: Yeah, I’ve read about this on your site. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

[overlapping conversation]

57:14 DL: Overgrow Canada thing. So, that’s the only time I’ve been to the jail for the night. And I realize, going to jail… When you’re on the right side and you’re doing the right thing, going to jail is not that bad. And I don’t think any court in Canada is gonna really punish me for selling microdose mushrooms to people who have a medical need. I kinda doubt it will ever even get to court ’cause it just seems like we got enough stuff to deal with in our court. So, I’m ready for some challenges, but I don’t think I’m really risking my… I’m taking some risks, but I don’t think I’m really risking my liberty the same way you might try to do this in a different jurisdiction.

57:48 PA: Amazing. Well, I wanna thank you for doing the work that you are doing. I wanna thank you for the work that you’ve done, and I wanna thank you for joining us on this beautiful day on the podcast. It’s been fun to hang out in the park for an hour, smoke a couple of joints. Hear these amazing stories. Really, it’s an honor to sit in an interview, so thank you for making the time.

58:04 DL: The last podcast I did we didn’t keep track of the time, it ended up being three and a half hours. It was this longest thing, and I said I could probably do that here. I don’t know how long we’ve been. But enough is enough. Thanks for having me, my pleasure. And mushroomdispensary.com, if you’re in Canada, check us out.

58:20 PA: Great. Thanks so much, Dana.

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