Toronto nightlife will be a whole lot greener tonight. The cannabis capital of central Canada will host Nuit Verte - a night-time cannabis farmer's market that will feature cannabis vendors as well as live music courtesy of the Juno-nominated band Diemonds. The event is part of the Green Market movement, which hosts pop-up events in Toronto and abroad that include cannabis farmers markets, potlucks and tastings.
Earlier this week, we had a chance to chat with Lisa Campbell, the Green Market co-founder who is organizing Nuit Verte. Here's what she could reveal about this covert event.
What is Nuit Verte?
Nuit Verte is a cannabis night market. And it’s a Green Market Toronto event. So we’ve been running cannabis farmer’s markets over the summer. We try to rotate our events because of the Project Claudia crackdown [on Toronto's marijuana dispensaries]. The edibles and other products that we carry in the market - which are all derived from cannabis - are illegal to sell in the current market. So the event is about taking products which the government considers black market and creating a green market: a safe space where brands can sell their products and consumers can purchase them.
Who can attend and who's selling cannabis products there?
All of our events are 19 plus, so we’re complying with the provincial laws in terms of what age people should consume substances similar to alcohol. Most of the vendors are mom-and-pop brands, which are providing craft products.
What sorts of products are they selling?
You have everything from salves to tinctures to topicals to edibles. We have brownies. We also have cannabis mixes that are like baking mixes so you can get brownie mix. We also have mac and cheese as well. So whether you’re looking for a foodie creation or just like some comfort food, there’s something for everyone.
How's it different from buying through the black market?
There’s the ability to talk about the products with the producer, so you can find out if it’s vegan or gluten-free or organic or what kind of extract or strain they’re using. Unlike the black market - where you’re just buying from some guy in a sketchy place - this is a safe space where you can ask those questions and have a relationship with the producers. It's about taking cannabis away from that bygone era of meeting drug dealers in back alleys and creating a high end consumer experience. We want to normalize cannabis.
Creating a new cannabis culture
What sorts of shoppers are you targeting with these farmers markets?
Our target market is the mainstream. We appreciate cannabis culture and we honor its traditions. But we’re looking to create a new cannabis culture where everyone feels welcome and everyone can participate. Our event reflects that because the majority of our vendors are women. We have a lot of people who are newcomers to Canada. And we draw a diverse crowd.
Tell us about a surprising customer at one of these events.
I saw an older Jewish couple that were dressed conservatively. They were orthodox. And they were so happy to be there because there were vegan edibles. And vegan edibles are kosher. So that couple probably walked away with $400 in edibles because they had never had access before. And a lot of older women are a really solid demographic as well because they’re looking for products to treat all kinds of things as we age, including fibromyalgia and chronic pain. So to have access to these products, especially topicals and suppositories, is huge. And they’re not looking to get high. So that’s a whole new demographic of consumers.
Can you tell us a bit more about the vendors?
A lot of our vendors are creating products that work for them [as patients]. So they know that they work. It’s patient driven. It’s like a patient-to-patient network. They’re creating affordable craft products that aren’t currently available from Canada's licensed producers.
Why a night market?
We’re just trying to create alternative cannabis events and create a new cannabis culture. Night markets are just as much of a tradition in Toronto as farmer’s markets. We’re trying to create a blend of hospitality, entertainment and cannabis all together.