There is plenty to be excited for when cannabis is finally legal in Canada this fall. Of course part of that anticipation involves the new pot products and businesses that will emerge, but it’s equally exhilarating to think of mainstream industries opening their doors—and experiential marketing events—to the cannabis world. I recently got a glimpse into this not-so-far-off future and one thing is certain: Cannabis is about to turn Canadian culture upside down.
An hour and a half from Toronto you’ll find The New Farm, a certified organic family farm located on the crest of the Niagara Escarpment just west of the village of Creemore.
The lore surrounding The New Farm is impressive—the farm that proved you could make money through sustainable farming has also become Ontario’s “It” farm, hosting concerts and community events and putting the county on the map. Owners Gillian Flies and Brent Preston sell their delicious organic produce (I tried a cucumber plucked fresh from the line and WOW) to local restaurants, and businesses use The New Farm as an event space.
Sitting in the middle of The New Farm is The UPside Down house: a life-sized, interactive, art installation that travels Canada to get adults talking about cannabis legalization. The UPside Down House is a visual trip and an Instagram dream. Enter the house that sits on its roof and once inside, you can walk on the ceiling. (Well, it’s either that or you accept that the table, chair, couch and lamp are hanging upside down above you.) You can also go into the “basement”, appropriately the roof of the building, and take a picture of the view from up top. Turning perceptions about cannabis on their head is easy in the UPside Down House, which will tour the country at various musical festivals and community events throughout the summer, including the Cowboys Festival in Calgary, Rock the Shores in Colwood, BC, Country Thunder in Regina and Calgary, and The Weekender and Rifflandia festivals, both in Victoria, BC.
Music and cannabis. Name a more iconic duo…I’ll wait. And while I wait, I’ll be chillin’ with some Tragically Hip members while I sip a cocktail and learn about terpenes in the sun. UP Cannabis welcomed Gord Sinclair, Paul Langlois, and Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip to Up at the Farm, where they chatted with guests about how excited they were to join the budding cannabis industry in Canada—the band is invested in UP’s parent company Newstrike and are very involved in the business.
The bandmates also discussed how the late Gord Downie would have loved the event and Sinclair gave the crowd a rundown of UP Cannabis’s future product lineup: five new strains all named after Tragically Hip songs, such as Eldorado, a “cerebral sativa” perfect for an evening shared with friends and Morning Moon, an indica-dominant strain perfect for serious couch time. The Hip, who have no plans to make music since Downie’s passing, left the performing to some younger Canadian talent. Kingston rock band the Glorious Sons shook the barn before Dallas Green serenaded the audience into a relaxing mood before bed. (No, he did not play “Save Your Scissors,” much to the dismay of this former teen fan.)
The food was the best part Up at the Farm. Not only did many of the ingredients come fresh-plucked from less than a hundred feet from us, the whole dining experience revolved around cannabis. We were greeted with themed appetizers like the hemp-and-beet tartare and “cucumber phattys”—nori rolls shaped like blunts.
Instead of a cannabis-infused feast, the UP dinner was made to complement or represent the terpene profiles in the five cannabis strains that will be available from UP in the fall. Chefs from some of the region’s best and most popular restaurants filled our plates with glorious dishes fit for Canada’s A-List hemp lovers.
I can’t vouch for the terpene resemblance (UP Cannabis’s strains won’t be available until after recreational legalization) but I can say the food was absolutely delectable. For example, in the morning—after a proper wake and bake—we were treated to the most gorgeous two-cheese quiche with farm fresh asparagus, plus buttermilk scones, and house-smoked local bacon.
The event revolved around a Cannabis 101 hosted by UP Cannabis’s “Plant Magician and Horticultural Manager” Katie Iarocci, who talked to the crowd about terpenes, cannabinoids, sativa vs indica vs hybrids (and how those don’t actually matter), and how to ease into cannabis use.
UP advocates for The High Five:
- Be a good big brother/sister (keep away from kids)
- Cannabis & chainsaws. Not a great pair (no heavy equipment while stoned)
- The pre-toke scan (know the room)
- One puff is enough (self-explanatory)
- It’s not all about you (some people don’t want to be around pot)
In the past, if I was able to smoke cannabis at events, it involved secret corridors or trashy back rooms, so to be able to consume cannabis in the open with a fancy cocktail and a nice appetizer in my hand as I cruised the crowd and mingled at a swanky event? Well, that really was something else.
The generally friendliness and welcoming vibes from all of our hosts was more than appreciated by this stoner and signals a shift in culture. To have cannabis take centre stage at such a swanky, expensive, mainstream event was a welcome sign of things to come. I have been kicked out of cannabis events for even rolling a joint. Part of me believed we would never see cannabis welcomed in such places, legal or not. But the future is here and it is open to possibilities.