Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to "legalize, regulate, and restrict" marijuana. What that looks like is anyone's guess at this point. But there's already a legal — and illegal — market flourishing, partially under the auspices of a government-sanctioned medical marijuana regime. In this essay, photographer Anthony Tuccitto documents the producers, merchants, and tokers of this ever-expanding industry.
We begin at Bedrocan, in Toronto, Ontario. It's one of 26 companies licensed by the government to grow cannabis to people with a medical prescription.
Security is tight at all Health Canada licensed producers. They have high quality security systems throughout.
Anyone who enters the facilities in which the plants are grown must sign in and out, wear a hazmat suit, and cover their hair and mouth
Workers don lab coats at Bedrocan.
Young marijuana plants on a growth spurt.
The plants at various stages of growth.
Bedrocan says its strains of cannabis have been used by more than 20,000 patients in seven countries, including Canada.
They get unruly as they get older.
Bedrocan's facility is capable of producing 4,000 kilograms a year of medical cannabis once fully licensed.
Workers manually de-stem the plants.
In Canada, thousands of people still have a license to grow small amounts of marijuana for personal medical use under a previous regulatory regime. VICE News visited one such family grow op, in what they described as the weed belt of Ontario. The brothers, who both have medical prescriptions, have asked that their identities remain concealed.
This beauty did not request anonymity.
The family operation is dramatically different than that of the licensed producer. They are the masters of their domain.
They say there are about 50 plants, made up of three different strains.
These plants will be harvested in a matter of weeks.
The brothers have licenses to grow for themselves and a small roster of local patients. They supply to a few dispensaries in Toronto in secret.
One of the brothers holds up a homemade piece of shatter. "They all love it, they just eat it up," he said.
There are an estimated 300 medical marijuana dispensaries across Canada, operating in what some consider to be a grey market. Technically, they are illegal, but many police forces are turning a blind eye unless they receive complaints.
416 Medicinal opened last month, among a wave of new shops in Toronto that are anticipating legalization.
Strains on display.
A customer surveys the options.
Many medical marijuana users prefer to eat their cannabis instead of smoking or vaping.
An assortment of concentrated cannabis extracts.
Ringing up a sale.
Cannabis culture is well-entrenched in Canada. At Vapor Central, a lounge in Toronto, smokers gather weekly for a live recording of a podcast dedicated to current weed news.
Vapor Central lays out the ground rules at the door.
Damian Abraham, frontman for punk band Fucked Up and a medical marijuana user, exhales during the The Mernahuana Zone podcast. He's next to Lisa Campbell and Matt Mernagh.
A bong at the bar.