When it comes to the business implications of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to legalize marijuana, Rick Macl plans on getting in on the ground floor.
Last weekend found the local cannabis advocate open Brandon’s latest head shop, Growers n’ Smokers, at 223 18th St. North.
Where other head shop owners might beat around the bush, Macl isn’t one to bite his tongue when it comes to his business’s true intentions. His shop is about the promotion of cannabis, marijuana, pot or whatever other word one prefers.
Understandably averse to the idea of going to prison, Macl’s promotion of cannabis is limited by the confines of the law, which means his shop does not sell any actual cannabis, focusing instead on its related paraphernalia.
The business will change as the laws allow, and Macl has a two-year plan to transform his shop into a cannabis dispensary as soon as legally possible.
Until then, he’s focusing on the sale of equipment that will allow those legally allowed to grow marijuana at home to do so.
A self-described "poster boy for ADHD," Macl can talk your ear off when it comes to subjects he’s passionate about, and cannabis is most certainly one of these subjects.
Although he admits to illicit recreational smoking in the past, it wasn’t until about six years ago that he began recognizing its medicinal properties. Promoting these properties has since become one of his life’s callings.
Around that time, he was playing with his son on the floor when he heard a popping sound. He tried to get up off the floor and found that he was unable to, paralyzed from the waist down.
His paralyzation was thankfully only temporary, and he was able to become mobile enough to visit a doctor who informed him that a bulging disc in his back had been pushing on nerve endings, which he’d later receive surgery to correct.
Macl was prescribed Oxycontin to deal with the associated pain, which he took for more than a month until he reached a breaking point.
Glued to his couch in a dazed state, he remembers getting up from his couch to do something and promptly forgetting what that something was.
Returning to the couch, he remembered what that something was, got up and then forgot, again.
Repeating this process about five times within approximately 10 minutes, he realized the zombie-like state Oxycontin had put him into.
The next day, he returned to his doctor and told him, verbatim: "You’re killing me with this stuff. I’m done!"
He was then prescribed cannabis, at which point a weight was lifted off his shoulders. He was a whole new version of himself, and considered himself "normal" again.
Over the subsequent six years, he investigated different strains with varying levels of THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis), CBD (a component with different health benefits), and terpenes (flavours) until he found the best products to meet his health needs.
Now, he wants to help others, with Macl considering Growers n’ Smokers an educational hub for his visitors — a "one stop shop."
There’s a big educational gap in our health-care system at this time, he said, noting that while few doctors do prescribe cannabis, they rarely identify which strains might assist with different ailments. There’s a vast difference between strains, with some beneficial and others detrimental depending on one’s condition. This, Macl said, is an important area of education he intends to fill.
Until he’s able to sell cannabis himself, he plans on linking customers with Health Canada-approved, and therefore legal, cannabis suppliers, with his personal favourite being Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis Enterprises Inc.
Using intel from clients, he’s also compiling a list of doctors willing to provide patients with cannabis prescriptions. So far, he has nailed down six, including four in Brandon.
Only its second day of operations, Growers n’ Smokers was already boasting a steady stream of clients on Saturday.
Most of the people who came in the business’s door had grey hair on their heads, and many of them carried the same passion as Macl, including one older gentleman who’d been smoking cannabis for decades and balked at the idea of doctors more readily prescribing Oxycontin than they do marijuana. He had to drive out to Alberta to get his prescription, while Oxycontin is much more readily prescribed.
Things should change by this summer, Macl said, optimistic that Trudeau will follow through on his election promises to legalize marijuana, which might allow him to take the next step with his business.
Setting up Growers n’ Smokers on this premise might have been a gamble, but Macl is maintaining his optimism that it’ll be a winning one.
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB