By Carlo Versano
As Canada celebrates its status as the first G7 nation to allow recreational use of cannabis nationwide, the mission of marijuana advocates is now likely to focus on shifting public perception of marijuana use ... and marijuana users.
Derek Riedle, the publisher of Civilized, a high-end cannabis lifestyle and media brand, spoke to Cheddar on "Day 1" in Montreal, Québec. Riedle, who has long fought for legalization, isn't wasting any time in pivoting to what he believes to be the next issue at hand ー dismantling the stigma around recreational pot use. Cannabis culture is "fundamentally different" from the stereotypes in modern media, he said.
"People enjoy cannabis for all kinds of reasons," he added. But given the pervasive "stoner culture" perceptions, more than half of users remain in what Riedle has termed the "cannabis closet." As a member of the media that shapes those impressions, he sees it as his job to help those users come out.
Canada's legalization efforts, years in the making, culminated on Wednesday as longtime cannabis users and curious first-timers lined up at retail locations across the vast country to be part of what amounts to one of the biggest experiments yet in global drug policy.
"This is something that has never been done before," Riedle said.
He predicted Canada will become a testing ground for the fledgling industry and ground zero for an entirely new industry of innovative companies looking to capture a piece of the market. While public safety and sales issues are sure to come up, "the sky hasn't fallen," as Riedle put it.
"Canada is going to be a shining example."
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