Although the Cannabis Act made recreational cannabis use legal a year ago, not much has changed for many in the community, which can be seen both as a positive and a negative.
Evan Brockest from Peterborough Drug Strategy says it was, “just another day,” when cannabis was legalized, noting that the spike in use that some feared never seemed to happen.
However, he adds, stigma still remains.
“It really does cause significant harm when someone sees you as a criminal just for medicating,” says the medicinal cannabis user.
She is still fearful of the effect cannabis advocacy could have on her daughter, in spite of legalization and the fact that she is doing nothing wrong.
“That is 100 per cent rooted in the social stigma,” Poirier said.
Jeff Ortiz is a medical cannabis grower, and while his experience tells him that the stigma of cannabis use has lessened since legalization, he doesn’t have many positive things to say about how it was rolled out. In particular, he says the system for legally purchasing cannabis was essentially set up to fail. From the initial guidelines for growing for personal use, the quality (or lack thereof) of the product from the Ontario Cannabis Store, to the lack of local licensed shops to purchase from, Ortiz is not impressed.
“These companies are just greedy and don’t know what they are doing,” he says, adding that there is a wealth of knowledge in the country from people who have been growing cannabis for many years that remains untapped.
“They are keeping all the people that want to be legal, illegal.”