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What you need to know about marijuana

by Karla Atanacio

On October 17, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The historic Cannabis Act paves the way for cannabis-related activities that have been previously prohibited. Now, Canadians can possess, consume, and in some provinces, cultivate their own marijuana plant at home. However, despite the drug’s popularity, many people still find themselves confused or even misinformed about it. In the Filipino community, conversations surrounding momoy or damo remains taboo. I talked to Chef Allan Pineda, a cannabis advocate, about the importance of having open discussions about marijuana.

Allan is one of the co-founders of the Cannadian Chronicle, a publication dedicated to cannabis news, information, and education. Since 2016, the publication has evolved to become Canada’s first hemp and cannabis newsletter. Allan is the creative genius behind the Filipino pop-up dinner event, Baon Manila Nights, and cannabis pop-up dinner, Flatlands Infused.

“When I first started delving into the industry just a few years ago I found out there was not a lot of information out there…I wanted to find a vessel to help the local community [and] … Manitoba,” he explained.

So, what is marijuana anyway?

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that comes from the cannabis plant. It is widely known for its relaxing effects, giving users a “high” or “stoned” feeling. Moreover, marijuana has mental and physical effects – a heightened sense of perception, heightened mood, and an increase in appetite. The origin of marijuana dates back to 3000 B.C., where it was used as folk medicine in Central Asia and China. In the 1900s, it was used for its pleasurable effects. From the 1970s up to present, marijuana has been widely used as a form of medicine and also recreationally (Rich, 2013).

“There are different types of cannabis: sativa, hybrids and indicas. Cannabis comes in thousands of different strains with their own characteristics, smells and tastes,” Allan said.

Generally, there are two widely recognized marijuana strains: sativa and indica. If you prefer “stimulating, uplifting, and energizing psychoactivity,” go for sativa. Sativa is recommended for treating depression, headaches, nausea, and loss of appetite (Bottorf et al., 2013). On the other hand, if you are interested in having a “mellow” high, try indica. Indica produces relaxing and pain-relieving effects. It is suggested for treating pain, insomnia, inflammation, muscle spasms, epilepsy, and glaucoma (Bottorf et al., 2013.) Many people undergoing cancer treatment also use marijuana to control nausea. Hybrid strains are a mixture of indica and sativa. Hybrids provide a balanced effect of the two strains.

Effects & misconceptions

Cannabis is by no means a product without fault. A research paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that during intoxication, marijuana “can interfere with cognitive function (e.g., memory and perception of time) and motor function (e.g., coordination), and these effects can have detrimental consequences (e.g., motor-vehicle accidents)” (Volkow et al., 2014). If used repeatedly during adolescence, marijuana can interfere with cognitive development. However, research related to the effects of marijuana use remains speculative. Does marijuana actually delay development or are other factors at play? Further research is required to prove these claims. (Dormer, 2018).

Unlike alcohol, cigarettes, or pills, marijuana does not create a chemical dependency in the brain. According to Matthew Hill, an associate professor at the University of Calgary, the detox period from marijuana is less painful and shorter compared to alcohol, cigarettes, or pills (Hill, 2018)

It is also important to note that no one has ever died from cannabis overdose. Ever. A person would have to consume 1,500 pounds of cannabis in an hour to fatally overdose (Miles, 2018).

I asked Allan about the biggest misconception he’s heard about marijuana. “I feel a big misconception is the stigma of the cannabis ‘stoner’ being lazy and unproductive. I feel everyone is different and there are many people out there that function at a high level while medicated, and actually enables people to work longer periods of time like myself,” he says.

Indeed, everyone has different reactions and approaches to marijuana. With that in mind, it is still important to consume everything in moderation. Too much of anything is a bad thing. However, it is important to address the topic of marijuana with an open mind.

How and where can you consume cannabis?

Allan says that cannabis comes in many forms: flowers, oils, extracts, edibles, etc. You can buy these from any Liquor, Gaming, and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba-certified retail store. In Manitoba, you must be 19 years old or older to legally consume cannabis. It is illegal to smoke or vape marijuana in public, but you can do it in the comfort of your own home. Anyone caught smoking in public will face up to $672 in charges (Government of Manitoba, 2018).

Being raised by first generation Filipino immigrants, Allan said that his parents were skeptical about his involvement with the cannabis community at first. “…There is a huge stigma that damo or momoy are bad but I think there wasn’t a lot of research and information back then and also in the now. There needs to be better education within the Filipino community about cannabis. [M]y parents … were skeptical at first but once they started seeing the work I was doing in the community and working with the college and doctors then they realized it’s something real, especially since legalization.”

The stigma surrounding cannabis use is far from over. However, with proper information and education, more Canadians will be able to exercise control over their bodies. The legalization of recreational marijuana opens opportunities for researchers to learn more about its effects. In addition, the Act has also made marijuana more accessible for people who are looking for natural ways to ease pain and discomfort.

To learn more about Allan’s work, go to and follow @flatlandsinfused on Instagram.

Karla Atanacio is currently in her second year of International Development Studies at the University of Winnipeg. Karla enjoys being involved in the community. In June, she was selected as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Human Resources at Youth Parliament of Manitoba. She is also involved with Filipino-Canadian heritage organizations. In her spare time, Karla enjoys fusion cuisine and listening to podcasts.

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