National Home Show & Canada Blooms Toronto

by Al Graham

What happens when you put two large trade shows together to create one big one? Besides a little confusion you get one of, if not the largest show of its kind in all of North America. This is exactly what happened when the Toronto National Home Show joined forces with Canada Blooms to form this massive event.

The show attracted over 800 vendors that touched on everything from landscaped gardens, such as the special one created for musician Jann Arden, to a custom built dream home with so many “green” items that it will last a lifetime.

While the show itself was huge, the ten daylong event held from March 15 – 25th was long enough  to  make sure everyone had a chance to get down to the Direct Energy Building and be part it.

The Treating Yourself booth was returning to the National Home Show part for the second time. Last year we had a hard walled booth that we plastered with TY Expo posters. This time there were no walls but a large  TY Expo Media Center set up for us to use.  Our booth  had  two  tables  covered  in  issues  of  TY  as  well  as the

P.A.C.E. brochures. We also had the Volcano Vapourizer and for a few days the VerDamper Bong Vapourizer sit- ting on top of the tables. Both of these devices attracted many people to the booth as they were curious as to what they were. We used them to help explain to people that you don’t have to smoke cannabis but you can vapourize it as well. The magazines were piled up nicely with some of  them  opened  up  to  display  three  pages  within. This

would include the TY Expo, 1 of A Kind Glass and the Vape on the Lake lounge which are all businesses con- nected to the magazine. While not everyone had heard about the Expo or the glass show surprisingly many had heard of the lounge. At this time Vape on the Lake had only been open for five months so it was good to hear that many people had heard about it. If the person didn’t know about the lounge they were only to happy to hear that it was located in the west end.

Because of the enlargement of this show we found our- selves in a hall that had never been used by either show in the past. The area was big enough to hold several ven- dors but had a low ceiling compared to the other halls. For some though they believed this provided them with better lighting to help showcase their booth. The building wasn’t the only thing that was new as this was the first time in a few years that Treating Yourself and  P.A.C.E. were alone in a booth as we have always been joined by   a compassion club in the past.

With no compassion club being involved  this  would mean that we would have to double the numbers of vol- unteers for the booth. Knowing this I put the call out to several patient advocates that live in and around Toronto. Answering my call for assistance were people like Scott Lynch. With me being located hours away from the show Scott was my contact and fill in person. If someone was going to be late or had to cancel Scott would get the call. Then there was Erin Maloughney that came to bat to work the first three days. In a text message to me she said “so many positive stories and great questions out there”.

She went onto say that “Canadians are quite aware!”

While some say it would be nice to have people that could work every day at these shows we can’t so we like to get everyone that we can to help out. This includes people such as Naomi Poley who said that she was only available for one day. The idea is to get more people involved and not less so if a person can help out for a day and it’s a benefit, then that’s what it’ll be. At the end of each day I would text a “thank you” message out to everyone who had assisted that day. When I did this with Naomi she replied to say “The main customers were mid- dle-aged women who were users or their son or daugh- ters smoked.” She went on to say that “99% of the peo- ple say it should be legal” and asks”how did bill C-10 get through?” Naomi is correct when she asks how those crime bills get through when over 60% of the voters, who voted, didn’t vote for the “Harper Government”.

When the show was finished Naomi wrote to say “Thank you for the experience Al. I was there on St. Pat’s Day & we got lots of attention because of being the truly “green” booth.” When I asked her to share an experience she said “My experience of memory was sitting outside in wet & cold medicating when a Toronto officer of the law walked out of the door into my cloud. He was cheery & polite. He chose not to charge me despite expired card & papers. It was an amusing encounter.” So even though she wasn’t educating inside the show she never stopped as it continued outside.

In order to make this feel a bit of a family affair we had Naomi’s daughter Chelsea join us at the booth. Chelsea was a battling a bit of a flu bug that was going around  but still managed to get some time in. Unfortunately for our friend Jim Brydges he couldn’t beat that same flu and missed out on helping out.

He wrote to say that he was disappointed but was too ill to attend.

My friend Marie Tripp was another person battling along through thick and thin. While she wasn’t battling a cold we worked around her medical appointments so that she could spend some time at the booth educating people. When each of her days was over she always texted mes- saged me afterwards to say “Thanks again for another great day educating”.

Then finally there was Scott McDowell and Jennie Coxwell, two people that have been helping out with

P.A.C.E. for quite a while. Both of them  have  helped  out at the TY Expo and many other shows over the years. Often we will get asked about mental health conditions and with Jennie there she steps right up to the plate and allows her university education and hands on experience to take over and explain the many benefits of cannabis.

Throughout the week and a half that we were there many people would share their stories. It’s as if they were all bottled up and wanted to speak to someone or as some call it, come out of their cannabis closet. As people advo- cating cannabis we were more than willing to spend time with these people and talk to them about their situation.

Some were people who have been trying for years to get their medical license while others were people who just plain knew the truth and felt that the war on cannabis is wrong. Many felt that the all out war on drugs was a failure and that it was time to change our drug policies.

On one of my days there I was there I was able to speak to a lady who told us about her live back at her home  land of Jamaica. She told Marie and me that the medicine that you see here in Canada is not always readily avail- able, never mind affordable for the people back home. As she went along she told us that as a young child seventy years ago that her mother would give her and her siblings a “green” tea to help keep them healthy and to deal with illnesses. A little while later a group of three ladies in their sixties stopped by and told us the same general story thus backing up what the previous lady had told us.

A few hours after these people had shared their stories of back home a guy from Trinidad stopped in to tell us the exact same thing. This leads me to say it’s obvious that here in North America we have been misled for a long long time.

The stories don’t end there. We had an eighty five year  old man from India stop by to tell us about his days as a child and how mom or dad would have a medicinal opium ball present in the house. He went on to let us know that his parents educated them on the problems with using too much and that this medicine was only to  be taken when given to him by his parents.

Besides hearing stories from back home we also had many people interested in the medical articles that are in Treating Yourself. Our display consisting of issues 32 and 33 which were quite popular as one of them covered autism and cannabis and the other touched on how cannabis may keep coronary heart stents stay open longer.

During one of the exchanges with a middle aged couple, that had said no thank you to a free magazine, we pointed out that many issues have recipes in them for baked goods. His wife spoke up and said that her husband can’t eat baked goods because he just had heart stents implanted. With issue 33 on the table all of us quickly pointed to the heart stent article in it which got them to stop. After a long conversation they made sure that they had a copy of it to read at home.

This couple wasn’t the only ones to say no but go home with a magazine. There were several but once they listened to what we had to say, they agreed to take a magazine home for a loved one. With Issue 32 touching on Autism this prompted many people to grab a hold of it because they knew of someone who could use it. I had one lady stop in and tell us that her sisters eight your old son was just diagnosed with autism and she was concerned due to the drugs she feared her nephew would be put on. While she doubted her sister would listen she figured it was worth a try because you never know, once a person gets some information they may latch onto it and go from there.

Patients weren’t the only ones stopping in to see us as the booth was visited by people such as the owner of Perkins Mailing Services who distribute the mag- azine, Jim from Canada Showcase stopped in to see how things were going as did Paul from Showcase Marketing. I hadn’t seen Paul in sometime so it was nice to talk with him again and for him to inquire about us coming back to one of his events. There were also vendors that we had seen at other events that stopped in to say hi and to reminisce about the past, the days of when we would have large fully bloomed plants as part of our display.

The people who worked the booth during this show had nothing but good things to say about it. This includes the security staffs that were friendly and polite, when we had a question the front office was there for us and the vendors in our area all worked together when it came to watching each other’s booths. Our hard work lead to twenty one boxes of magazine being handed out as well as an uncount- able number of P.A.C.E. and TY Expo brochures. A big thank you goes out to Marco and Treating Yourself magazine for allowing P.A.C.E. the oppor- tunity to educate the educated as well as the unedu- cated. There is no doubt in our minds that many many people are educated on cannabis and more are getting educated everyday because of patients like ourselves that are people advocating cannabis edu- cation.

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