Oooooohhhh Canadaaaaa….you are top notch. I just returned from a most wonderful and much needed vacation to Banff, Alberta where I spent 6 action packed days hiking, running and climbing the Canadian Rockies. Whether it was hiking 5 miles along the waterfalls at Johnston Canyon or running 13.1 miles (21.1 kilometres that is) through the city of Banff and the national park itself, or climbing Mt. Norquay via Via Ferrata, my best friend, my folks and I discovered western Canada in a very unique way. I had 2 main purposes for this trip. 1. Complete my first international race of the High 5 Challenge and 2. learn about Canadian cannabis, or Canannabis as I like to call it. The third purpose was to see a bear, a moose and a bighorn sheep, only one of which i saw, but it looks like i’ll be going back next year, so better chance then! The trip was a success in accomplishing me goals. I learned so much about conservation, wildlife and cannabis and I got in enough steps to last me til my next birthday (which is coming up!). I’d like to share with you what I learned about our wonderful neighbor to the north.
Canada + Cannabis = Canannabis
It took my 2 days to find some weed. I was impressed with my skills of procuring herb on the DL, since i am typically accustomed to going into a regulated shop to purchase my medicine. But Canada is not recreationally legal yet, so without a Canadian MMJ card, I was unable to purchase at a dispensary (which would have been difficult anyway since there were very few but more on that in a second). So I had to get weed the old fashioned way…asking friendly folks around town. Turns out Canada is full of friendly folks and it took no time at all to meet someone who was happy to find me some ganja. What I found most ironic was the fact that I succeeded in my quest by speaking Spanish, as my new friend was from Chile. Talk about international! As I was only in town for 4 more days, I decided against buying $60 of weed (which i totally could have smoked through if someone had challenged me) and was quite content with a large nug that was gifted to me. However, lacking any papers or pipes, I had to get creative on how best to smoke it, so I made my first apple pipe and smoked out of that! Talk about a healthy stoner! Let me tell you, it worked great! But then I hid it outside and by the next morning the rabbits had eaten it and were passed out in the yard staring at the clouds. Jk. But i did end up smoking 3 apples during my trip and I have to say, it may be one of my new favorite ways to toke. I was quite impressed with the canannabis. Don’t know much about it besides it was some good weed, but i feel like it may have been a sativa…because it was not ideal for a bedtime bowl. It was great for the race though and thats what i really needed it for. The nug was just the perfect amount to last me until my last day and being high in the mountains Canadian style sure was enjoyable.
Compass Cannabis Clinic – On the more legitimate side of things, medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001. So they have certainly taken their sweet time in fully committing to mary-jane. Scheduled to become recreationally available by this fall, I missed the it by just a couple of months. However, that didn’t stop me from checking out Canmore’s sole dispensary, Canmore Cannabis Clinic. There I met Michele, who co-founded the clinic with her partner Brad in April 2018. In chatting with her, i learned so much about the past, present and future of Canannabis. Each province regulates weed differently; in Alberta it is monitored by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, and even then, each city can have different tolerances and policies. For example, Banff is far less tolerant of cannabis shops than Canmore, possibly because it is located directly within a national park. Michele said Canmore had been very receptive to them opening up shop on Main Street. Located in a lower level unit, right next to a candy store, Canmore Cannabis Clinic is your one stop shop for all of your medical cannabis needs. Except for the actual weed that is. Unable to currently carry products containing THC, the clinic offers a variety of hemp derived CBD products, including topicals, capsules and tinctures as well as a large selection of ancillary products such as Pax, Firefly and Levo (and Stashlogix soon hopefully!). They also have a visiting medical marijuana doctor who comes in every other Friday for appointments as well as an in house cannabis educator to help people determine what form of medicine is best for them. If you are lucky enough to be a Canadian, your mmj appointment is covered by your insurance! Not a Canadian? No worries! You can still get your prescription, you just have to pay for the doctor visit, which is about $120. Not bad for a 3 month access pass to quality cannabis. Both physical and mental ailments qualify and Michele said that many people use cannabis primarily for pain and anxiety, which i found fascinating, because Colorado, as advanced as we are in this industry, still does not believe anxiety, depression and other neurological disorders can be helped by cannabis. Anyway, I learned that flower and tinctures are the most common forms of medicine and the concentrate and edible games are virtually non-existent (at least on the legal market).
The process is simple enough. First, you make your appointment with the medical marijuana doctor to discuss what you are medicating for and they will then give you a 3 month prescription for cannabis. After your appointment, you go into the next room and have a chat with the cannabis educator who will teach you all about indicas, sativas, cbd and other cannabinoids, as well as various ways to ingest as well, such as vaping, smoking or making your own butter and hash (which is ultimately what You Canna Be Well does). The clinic will then put you directly in touch with the grow company and they will ship herb directly to your doorstep! How neat! Every 3 months, the prescription must be renewed. Seems like a pretty legit system in my opinion, however the lack of edibles would be difficult for me as I am now accustomed to a wide array of weed treats. But it sounds like once Canada goes full recreational, a lot of opportunities and businesses will pop up, and I won’t be surprised if Colorado and California companies expand north. For example, I found it amusing that empty Foria and Leafs by Snoop boxes were displayed, almost as if to show how delicious fully legal cannabis could be. And I recommended she look into several Denver based CBD and ancillary products that I think would fit in nicely on her shelves. To learn more about their store and services, you can check out their website here: https://www.compasscannabis.ca and give them a like and a follow @compasscliniccanada. My sole souvenir of the trip, save a couple of crystals, was a sweatshirt from there and a transdermal CBD patch, which eased my back pain and post-race soreness. I was very impressed with the professionalism and knowledge that was presented at the Clinic and I truly think that Canada is on the proper path for a well regulated and diverse canannabis market.
Banff Half Marathon – Race Day! – How I stayed HIGH-drated : sativa apple bowl, 4-5 Good Day energy chocolates, Highly Edible Fruit pucks 50ish mg, 1:1 wana 50-80 mg, MM transdermal patch right on my knee that was giving me some trouble. And lots of Apothecanna and Evolve transdermal pen.
We lucked out with beautiful weather, not too cold, not too hot, sunny, absolutely perfect running weather. The race started on the edge of the town of Banff and wove alongside the highway on a paved path through Banff National Park, along the lakes and streams, through the tall pine trees and back into town, over the worn stone bridges and back into town. Despite keeping a consistent pace the entire 21k, Tessa and I managed to put on a turbo burst of speed for that last .1k as we sprinted across the finish line like a particular Jamaican sprinter. Who also admits to being a cannathlete.. Anyway, we finished in 2 hours, 13 minutes and 6 seconds, (which may be a personal best for me), received our medals and grabbed our well earned fruit and muffins and went to cheer on my mother, who was also doing the race! We caught her at the final kilometer and I ran alongside her as she finished the race with determination and her last bit of energy. (Granted we had gone on a 5 mile hike the day before..). I am just filled with so much pride everytime i finish a race with my mum. She’s just so damn inspiring. And she trains for this shit, whereas I have a far different training approach. I was also thrilled to have matching You Canna Be Well 420 racing jerseys with my sponsors on the back! She is just as much a cannathelte as I am, thats for sure. So after getting our pictures taken and grabbing some must have donuts, we headed back to the hotel to recover in the hot-tub. With a much needed apple bowl of course. Racing as a cannabis athlete and having that conversation with people both on and off the course was a reminder as to why I am racing to change the stoner stereotype and I am incredibly grateful to the companies who are supporting me on this journey including 1906, Stashlogix, Living Flow and DabSolutions. This particular race, I was running for 2 causes, The Harmony Project and Polar Bears International. The Harmony Project was the organization affiliated with the Banff Marathon and proceeds from the race were benefiting their ongoing projects, which focus on educating men and women about consent, which is a pretty relevant issue right now. They are doing amazing work, which you can learn more about here: http://ywcabanff.ca/programs-services/bow-valley-harmony-project/ . I was also racing for the polar bears! Because, if you couldn’t tell, i really like animals and give a shit about conservation, and polar bears seemed appropriate as i was racing in the great white north. So, if you would like to donate $13 for 13.1 miles or $21 for 21.1 kilometers or any amount really to Polar Bears International, you can do so by clicking here : https://www.facebook.com/PolarBearsInternational/ .
Bunnies, sheep and eagles! Oh my!
I just about lost it when I saw the bunnies in Canmore (the town we were staying in). It looked like the 4-H club was going cage free, there were adorable little gray and white, and black and caramel bunnies all over town! It was wonderful! But not natural and i hypothesized that pet rabbits were over bred and released into the wild and would you believe i was right! They are now considered a pest and are being ‘removed’. Which i understand from a conservation perspective. But they were just the cutest little bunnies. I even booped one on the head as it ate a dandelion out of my hand. So that made me very happy walking about town and spotting the wildlife, which also included funny prairie dog squirrel looking rodents aka Columbia Ground Squirrels. Which apparently relish pea pods. So that’s cool.
Then there were the bighorn sheep that we saw on Mt Norquay, while we were being sheep ourselves and scaling the mountainside. I spotted several ewes who appeared to be shedding their winter coat and they meandered along the rocky paths below us grazing on sparse mountain shrubbery. Convinced I would see more sheep I kept me eyes peeled for the remainder of the via ferrata (I probably should have kept my eyes forward since i was walking along a cliff, but i was determined to see more sheep!) I asked the universe to show me 3 more sheep but alas I saw no more as we hiked down the steep ass mountain. Exhausted and finally starting to feel sore from the race the day before, we start driving back to the hotel when all of a sudden we spot a sheep on the road! And then another, and then a third! And that was when I realized the Universe is always listening…she granted me 3 more mangy sheep and boy did that just make my day. They really are stupid looking animals with minimal intelligence i feel, but damn are they good climbers.
Finally, seeing a pair of bald eagles soar overhead as I was scaling a sheer mountain wall was pretty neat too. I’m going to have to look into what twin eagles mean… I was then convinced that one was then perched on a nest on a nearby mountain top until i stared at it for 8 minutes straight and it didn’t move. Not once. So i guess it was just a rock. But that was one bird looking rock. Also while climbing, i had a genius idea that I should move to Canada and start a safari company and call it Moose Caboose. And only look for moose. I think that’d be pretty fun. Life goals. Next trip I plan on seeing multiple bears, one beaver and a male moose with a massive rack. From the safety of a gondola. But Canada sure does have some neat wildlife.
Top Reasons I love Canada
Seemed like most of their restaurants were straw-less. Way to care about the planet eh!
Everyone says ‘eh’ and has a fun accent, just like me!
I’m convinced im going to see awesome wildlife around every bend.
The roads are so smooth and the parks are free. Because their government prioritizes that shit.
The water is so damn blue!!!
Most of their seasonal workers are Australian. And most of the rest of the population is Canandian. Those are my 2 favorite kind of guys!
I guess what I’m saying is don’t be too surpirsed if I spontaneously drive 18 hours to Banff and stay up there for a little bit. But don’t worry Colorado, I love this Rocky Mountain High too much to leave you for long 🙂 Having said that….where in the world should I race next?!