By Jorge Cervantes

Flying into Vancouver, BC, for the first time in five years last July brought back many memories. Who can forget those cute little beagles at the airport whose tails start wagging whenever they detect a hint of marijuana in the air? In downtown Vancouver, I was happy to see that the “pot block” was still thriving on Lower Hastings. Some of the faces had changed, but there were enough friends around to make me feel at home. Blunt Brothers was still bustling. Across the street, Kind Seed Co. was turning an old bank into a stoner’s paradise. Some of the hydroponics stores had closed, but those that remained were flourishing. In town to shoot the DVD version of my book Indoor Marijuana Horticulture, I was happy to know that the sensi-scented winds of freedom still blew through Vancouver.

Shortly after I left, the winds would change direction, as three major busts happened in the following weeks. Nearly 20 Hells Angels were arrested on smuggling charges; the first pot-smuggling tunnel between Canada and the US was discovered; and Marc Emery, owner of Cannabis Culture magazine and Marc Emery Direct Seeds, along with his top staff, Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek and “Marijuana Man” Greg Williams, were arrested at the behest of the DEA on charges of seed selling, smuggling and money laundering.

Despite these hassles, Canada remains a far safer place than the US for growers and tokers alike. Blissfully unaware of the looming shift in fortune for the country’s pot smokers, I met up with the HIGH TIMES crew. After sampling some of the local produce, we embarked on our tour of Vancouver’s grow-ops.