To say we are living in turbulent times would be an understatement.
From the election of Donald Trump (a profoundly divisive event all on its own) to tensions around healthcare reform and foreign relations, it’s easy to feel pessimistic about our chances of reconciling as a society anytime soon.
Jon Liedtke thinks a bit of cannabis paired with some lively discussion might be a good place to start.
The owner of Higher Limits - Canada’s largest cannabis lounge located in Windsor, Ontario - is launching an ‘elevated’ debate series wherein community members will gather to dissect hot button issues in the region and well beyond.
While cannabis use obviously won’t be enforced for participants, Liedtke will be “encouraging anyone who wishes to consume beforehand.”
“There are so many issues going on right now, whether it’s here in Windsor or across the country or outside of it. I’m watching all these conversations unfold on Facebook, which isn’t exactly the best medium for having meaningful discussions,” Liedtke told Civilized.
“Elevating that discourse rather than just yelling at each other seemed like a great idea, and doing it at the cannabis lounge made a lot of sense.”
The reason it makes sense, according to Liedtke, is (at least partially) because many cannabis consumers find the plant to be “a stimulant in terms of intellectual capacity.” In other words, cannabis can help open your mind and take it in directions you never predicted – a valuable asset during heated discussions on controversial topics.
“There’s a reason we’re calling it an ‘elevated’ debate... we’re hoping cannabis can help promote some meaningful discourse,” said Liedtke, adding that cannabis personally helps him “problem solve, analyze issues from different [viewpoints], and get introspective when I need to.”
“We’re hoping that participating in cannabis consumption before and during the event will help people come to different perspectives on issues, maybe find a bit of enlightenment.”
Inviting both cannabis consumers and non-consumers to partake in the series will also help further Higher Limits’ unrelenting mission to de-stigmatize cannabis use, added Liedtke.
“Everything we do at Higher Limits is aimed at normalizing the use of cannabis and removing the stigma... no one looks at someone drinking a beer and automatically thinks they’re a negative influence on society, but we’re at a point where people do look at cannabis consumers as such and that’s a problem,” said Liedtke.
“By having cannabis consumers and non-consumers interacting in the same space at an event that isn’t cannabis-specific but rather community-focused, it allows for a common ground to be found... [and for people to see that] meaningful discourse and cannabis use aren’t binary concepts.”
Liedtke plans to host the first “Parliamentary debate-style” event come April, with hopes of going monthly.
“We’re looking at half-hour debates and hour-long debates, with topics ranging from things concerning Windsorites to Donald Trump issues since we’re a border city [with Detroit.] We’ll even talk cannabis legalization,” said Liedtke. “We want the audience to submit topics...because we really want this to be a community-focused event.
"We want people to walk away from the debates [whether or not cannabis was involved] thinking, 'wow, I just listened to a very well-researched, nuanced argument and I learned something.'"