By Tonte Spiff
October 17, 2018 will forever be known in Canadian history as the day of Cannabis legalization. After years of debating, countless pages in legislation, and multiple last-minute policy changes, the Senate approved recreational use of the drug this past June, leading to months of anticipation.
Now that the legalization day has come and gone, it is important for individuals to understand The Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) , which allows individuals aged 19 and above to purchase and use cannabis. The Government of Ontario has provided information on their website, as well as opened the Ontario Cannabis Store https://ocs.ca/#/verify-age , which is currently the only legal retailer of recreational cannabis.
The legalization of cannabis in the country will have an effect on a wide variety of industries and businesses, but none to the extent of the Canadian music industry. There has been a strong connection between cannabis and music for over 40 years, and in the case of some artists like Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley, and Willie Nelson, much of their persona is shaped by their use of cannabis.
High Times, which is described as “the preeminent source of cannabis information since 1974” has featured a number of recording artists, including those mentioned previously, on the magazine’s cover, along with in-depth interviews about their history of cannabis use.
Live shows are an important aspect of the Canadian music industry and therefore, it is of utmost importance to artists and their record labels to ensure a positive experience for fans. It is also no secret that concert and music festival goers commonly use cannabis while they enjoy a performance by their favourite artists. Because of this, companies such as Up Cannabis and Tweed Inc. have capitalized on the opportunity to tap into the new market through sponsorship deals, increasing their overall visibility.
An issue that Canadian artists face is the fact that the U.S. government considers cannabis as one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. It is classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the States, which is the same classification given to heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.
These conflicting viewpoints between the Canadian and U.S. governments on the topic of cannabis, as well as the difference in laws surrounding the use of cannabis, have already created a number of problems at the border for recording artists on tour.
As a result, some agents are advising artists to refrain from posting images or videos on social media, and publicly engaging in any activity that would link them to the use of cannabis
Neo Tempus – a Toronto based independent recording artist, feels differently about the situation. Neo says: “I’m not too sure if there are any negative effects with the legalization of marijuana for Canadian artists going into the U.S. because in some states marijuana is legal … and as far as musicians go, music and drugs are notorious to go together.”
We can only wait and see the kind of impact legalization of cannabis will have on the Canadian music industry. But the future definitely seems bright if the current trend continues with musicians such as The Tragically Hip and KISS frontman Gene Simmons, taking on roles as stakeholders and ambassadors.