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Overcoming the Stigma of Cannabis

I was the last person you’d expect to now own a cannabis store with my family. I am still a little shocked myself. I didn’t always like the idea of cannabis, as there were so many negative connotations to it.

In 2021, we opened Tonik Cannabis which is a recreational cannabis store in Brantford, Ontario and it was a pivotal moment in my journey to cannabis acceptance. This journey started because of my sons and their rare genetic conditions. They were not finding benefits from traditional pharmaceuticals and continued to suffer with chronic pain. As their mother, it was extremely hard to watch. Traditional methods of pain management were not working for them, and there was nothing I could do to help. The things that doctors were saying would help, were not working, and I felt hopeless.

My sons discovered cannabis helped them deal with their pain. When I realized my sons were using cannabis, I was not happy. After all, there has always been stigma around cannabis, and I used to believe all those bad things I heard. But, after seeing the beneficial impact it had on them, and how many people in our community were eager to find similar solutions, my opinion changed.

Society Has Shaped Our Mindset

I believe that how we perceive cannabis use has more to do with the history of how society has shaped our mindset than the substance itself. In school, as a teacher, we taught kids that “marijuana” was a “gateway drug”, meaning that, if you started with it, you would open a gate to seek out “harder” drugs. This information is in our elementary school curriculum and taught as part of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program in conjunction with police services, that are also funded by the government.

Although factors like these have shaped our beliefs on cannabis, recent legalization is changing that. Our beliefs are on a sliding scale, from “the only people who use cannabis are ‘druggies’ and people who are weak or lawless,” to ones who believe that cannabis reduces anxiety, pain, helps promote sleep, and even cures diseases.

The Benefits of Education

I feel like my beliefs are moving along this sliding scale to a more positive outlook. My eldest son kept telling me: “Just educate yourself mom and you will see.” In hindsight, he was right, but in the past, I did not want to believe him since I had learned many facts that told me cannabis was wrong. Opening Tonik opened my eyes to seeing how many people actually used cannabis in our community and how many people swear by it.

I watch the customers of all ages (over 19) and all walks of life come into our store, and each one has their own story about their journey with cannabis. It’s fascinating to hear them. I think what I love the most is their absolute belief in the benefits of cannabis. The more I hear their stories, the more my scale slides to the positive side.

Our store is inviting to anyone in the community, offering a comfortable and educational environment to try something new or simply ask questions. Tonik is a place where people can come and learn about cannabis.

Tonik Cannabis cannot provide any medical advice for the use of cannabis.

Tags: Cannabis Retail (401), cannabis stigma (9), Ontario Cannabis Store (78), Tonik Cannabis (3)