HempFest Expo vendors, speakers aim to reduce the stigma around marijuana culture

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John Carlson with Boxcar Studios demonstrates how some glass works glow under ultraviolet light at HempFest Cannabis Expo at Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on Saturday, March 11, 2017.
Ian Kucerak / Postmedia

Recreational marijuana users are lazy.

That’s the stereotype entrepreneur John Carlson wanted to break while manning a booth for his business at the HempFest Cannabis Expo at the Shaw Conference Centre on Saturday.

The 26-year-old is the owner of Boxcar Studios in Olds, Alta., a glassblowing studio and shop that specializes in “420/710 accessories.”

Carlson, a self-taught glassblower, said he wanted to show people marijuana users can be professional and organized.

“If you look here, there’s a room full of young, hardworking entrepreneurs.”

Carlson started his self-funded business six years ago. He was one of many vendors selling accessories like bongs and vaporizers at the expo.

Others sold air purifiers, grow lights and soap and personal care products while several stands contained information about medical marijuana and cannabidiol (CBD).

Expo guest speaker, Alison McMahon, spoke about the challenges of prescription marijuana use and the workplace.

“You cannot be fired for holding a cannabis prescription,” McMahon told the crowd. 

McMahon founded Cannabis at Work more than a year ago after seeing a need for educating employers who manage employees with medical marijuana prescriptions and, once legalized, employees who choose to consume marijuana.

The most frequent concern from employers, McMahon said, is around “safety sensitive positions because cannabis is an impairment causing substance.”

“Closely linked to that is one of the biggest challenges: that we don’t have a test for active impairment,” she said.

Current drug tests detect when a person has recently consumed marijuana. They cannot determine if a person is impaired at the time of the test.

“Employers might have a good employee who wants to be able to consume cannabis on their own time but they’re going to fail a drug test,” McMahon said.

“If drug testing is part of the culture of that company, the employer either has to fire an otherwise good employee or risk sending them to a site where there is zero tolerance, which isn’t a good option either.”

McMahon said workers who use medical marijuana should be upfront and know they are responsible to disclose that they rely on a marijuana prescription to their employer.

“Be patient and perseverant,” McMahon said. “You’re going to have employers who just aren’t educated on this yet and you might face some challenges but employers do have duties to accommodate medical prescriptions.”

The expo wraps up on Sunday.

mlepage@postmedia.com



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March 12, 2017 |

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