Kitchener lights up at cannabis festival

KITCHENER — “Stay High,” read the T-shirt worn by a reveller at Saturday’s Ontario Cannabis Festival in Kitchener.

Almost everyone, other than the police officers, security guards and this reporter, followed the order.

“So far I’ve smoked two joints today,” Mitchell Bernier, 23, of Kitchener said in the early afternoon as music blasted at the festival at Bingemans. “I feel great, uplifted. This is a great vibe. I love it.”

Not long ago, this gathering would have been against the law. Pot was legalized in Canada last October.

“What a change,” Bernier said. “If this was 10 years ago, the cops would be swarming us.”

Crowds at the festival were sparse at the start but picked up later in the day.

Cannabis users smoked up all over the grounds, firing up joints and water pipes. No cannabis was sold — that would be illegal — but a booth run by Hamilton brewery Collective Arts, which has plans for cannabis-infused drinks, was handing out free rolling papers.

“Hello, I’m Baked” read the name tag on David Kurth’s shirt. He’s the president and chief executive of U-Bud Cannabis Services, which had a booth at the festival.

The company, based in Canfield, Ont., sells pot-growing equipment.

“We come out, we set everything up, we teach you how to do it and we walk you through the process,” Kurth said.

“Most people who buy grow equipment typically fail their first one, two, sometimes more grows just because they don’t know what they’re doing — there’s too much information out there. We’ve created a very simple process that’s built around the right equipment, There’s no risk of fire, mould or water damage.

“And we guarantee you will be successful.”

Did Kurth grow weed as a teenager?

“Where is this being published?” he asked with a laugh. “The only thing illegal that might have happened is a few plants may have showed up in my yard accidentally. And they turned out not to be tomatoes.”

On a more serious note, Christine Howard was at The Pot Exchange’s booth. Howard was diagnosed in 2017 with a benign pituitary tumour, which “gives me pretty nasty headaches,” she said. “I tried to get medical marijuana. It was ridiculously priced. I couldn’t afford it.”

She did not want to take prescription drugs.

“I have an addictive personality, so I didn’t want to do that,” the Kitchener woman said. “I wanted to go natural. This (cannabis) isn’t addictive.

“There are so many people out there that this plant helps for so many different things. And people who need it can’t afford it. So I came up with a way where people can get it free.”

Howard’s website, thepotexchange.ca, which she launched in July, links up people who need medical marijuana with those who have some extra cannabis. Perhaps a person grew four plants and does not need it all. That person then mails the cannabis to the person who needs it.

“It’s not illegal,” Howard said. “No money changes hands whatsoever. Nobody pays for anything.”

Meanwhile, Greg Thornton, who helped out at the festival, said it looked too windy for a planned attempt to roll a 110-foot-long joint, which would be the longest in the world. It was unclear whether the joint was rolled.

Perhaps the burning question of the day was whether Jeffrey Shaver, Cambridge’s famous nearly naked, bong-smoking protester, would show up at the festival. It turns out he had other

commitments.gpaul@therecord.comTwitter: @GPaulRecord

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