Jay Wilgar is an experienced runner and one of Canada’s most influential cannabis executives. Here, he describes what CBD means to him
My foray into the incredibly interesting world of legalized marijuana had its beginnings at an evening workout in Burlington, Ontario, in December 2012. Fresh off a career of several successful—and some not so successful—entrepreneurial start-ups, including the surprisingly controversial large-scale wind power development, my friend Travis Kanellos asked if I had heard about the government’s plans to legalize cannabis production. I gave him a quizzical look.
By February, I had enough evidence to know that if they were giving out licenses to grow pot, I was going to get one! Within a month, we had a site in Brantford, Ontario, owned by a somewhat apprehensive landlord, and we proceeded to dive head-first into the painstaking world of Health Canada licensing. Much to the dismay of my family and friends (my mother referred to it as “Jay’s Flower Shop”), we would spend the next four years raising money, narrowly avoiding bankruptcy, then finally becoming one of the early licensees to grow and sell medical and recreational cannabis to Canadians.
I’ve had a front-row seat in the world’s first-ever experiment with the full legalization of cannabis. As CEO of Newstrike Brands, I’ve helped build one of Canada’s large grow-ops in arguably the most exciting business story in North America since the dot.com market run of the early 2000s.
Over this time, Newstrike went public, endured a hostile takeover, partnered with the Tragically Hip (our ticker symbol on the TSX was “HIP”), raised $180-million and ultimately was sold to Hexo in May of this year. It was an exciting time.
Running and triathlon has been part of my life for 20 years. Many of my creative business ideas were developed while out on a long run—and much of the stress of life and business that have been thrown at me have been quashed by the vigour of a brisk run. For many runners and athletes, a buzz has formed when talking about a new and now legal “magic drug,” CBD. We recently read stories of famous professional athletes openly talking about their own CBD use and the many benefits it has in both training, sleep and recovery. From golfers to grandmothers, CBD seems to be more and more on the minds of people not only here in Canada, but in many other countries that have legalized the use of CBD now found in oils, candies, bath bombs, lotions, creams and sublingual spray.
CBD, or as it’s properly known, cannabidiol, is one of dozens of compounds called “cannabinoids” that are naturally found in the oil of cannabis plants. Its cousin, the far better known THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound that provides the psychoactive effect—it’s what gets you stoned. Anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD can be effective for pain management (with powerful anti-inflammatory properties), anxiety, sleep and even seizures. But having been labelled as a Class 1 one drug for so long, there remains a limited amount of research into the true short- and long-term benefits that CBD and other cannabis compounds can provide.
There are many CBD products available legally in Canada. It’s important for anyone looking to incorporate this into your day-to-day life or training to ask a lot of questions and speak to medical professionals who are educated on cannabis products. Many of the CBD products on the market contain high levels of THC, which I can assure you will make for a very interesting (albeit slow) run.