Toronto Green Market pop-up to reappear this weekend

The co-owner of the itinerant cannabis event argues that the government has not specifically outlawed pop-up markets

Over 30 craft cannabis brands will sell gourmet chocolates, baked goods, extracts, savoury delights, infused creams and cannabis accessory products at the festive edition of Green Market Toronto taking place this Sunday, December 10, at a yet-to-be-revealed location.

“Everyone is in transition right now, but there’s a lot to celebrate and I think that’s it’s going to be a really big party,” said market co-founder Lisa Campbell, who said this event is to be the biggest yet. Musician Ian Campeau (aka DJ NDN) of A Tribe Called Red fame will be hosting the event, which will feature a line-up of special celebrity guest DJs, and fundraise for the Overdose Prevention Society.

On a mission to connect cannabis users with products they cannot access through legal means—edibles have not been available from dispensaries since 2016 Project Claudia police raids—the market has been held regularly this year in Toronto. A special edition called “Nuit Verte” travelled to Montreal in July.

Sunday’s event celebrates the federal government’s legalization of edibles for July 2019. “We achieved our original mission of pushing for access and product diversity,” Campbell said. “And now we’ve also achieved the mission of having the federal government acknowledge that craft processing and growth should be included.” The regulatory framework outlined by Health Canada last month has provisioned several potential licenses for craft cannabis companies.

In Ontario, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) will handle recreational cannabis sales. Despite the provincial government’s “severe messaging” on the issue, which involves a crackdown on all private storefronts, Campbell is supportive of the government-run sales model because of the LCBO’s historic commitment to craft products. Supporting and stocking local manufacturers is one of the key strategic objectives listed on the LCBO’s website.

Green Market Toronto operates illegally and has justified its existence to the fact that the products on sale are not available from any of the medical cannabis producers licensed in the ACMPR. Campbell attributed the lack of police interference in the past to the organizers’ being “public and transparent,” about their intentions, and the clear on how they are not affiliated with organized crime.

Many regular vendors will be absent from this edition of the market because they are transitioning to the legal market. “If you are licenced or working towards that you don't necessarily want to do anything that breaks the law,” Campbell explained.

Indeed, many past Green Market vendors are “looking at six, seven figure deals” in Canada and the US, she said. In September, her fellow Green Market co-founder Sarah Gillies’ range of natural health and spa products, Mary Jane’s Touch, was acquired by MYM Nutraceuticals.

Despite the “access” argument being made redundant for most edibles no later than one year after legalization, Campbell believes there is a future for Green Market, arguing that the government has not specifically outlawed pop-up markets. “If we regulate cannabis like alcohol, and we have alcohol at farmers markets, there is a chance for local craft producers to have their products in a stand in a booth to represent their own craft products,” she said.

While encouraged by her vendors' success in infiltrating the legal industry, Campbell believes the cannabis industry still has a “long way to go,” in particular when it comes to diversity. “In the corporate legal cannabis world, it’s mostly white guys in suits,” she said. “We need to treat cannabis like wine and recognize that there is regional diversity.”

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