By: Ariel Ryann

The way we buy and sell dope today has been revolutionized, even if you still have to “text a guy” and meet up with him in an alley downtown.

If you get a hold of the right number like I did, that guy will be Chris. Or Cameron, or Sadie*, or one of the many other “cannabaristas” across Toronto; their texts will be daily notifications on the latest strains and sales available, and

the alley will be the prelude to a “Marijuana Job Fair.” It’s a reefer retail revolution, courtesy of your new 420-friendly neighbourhood dispensary downtown.

The aforementioned Chris, who has requested that his surname remain unpublished, is the founder of the Marijuana Information Bureau (MIB) dispensary, which is now in the process of being liquidized to make room for his new large-scale venture, Og Gog Magog Cannabaristas Inc. For years, Chris and his partner, known only as Cameron, have been maintaining a network of cannabaristas—a term Chris has coined for those recruited by MIB/Og Gog to be frontline marijuana brokers for customers around the GTA.

MIB has dared to push the limits of publicity for their network before by hosting public MIB-sponsored social outings (such as movie nights, bowling, and go-karting tournaments) and “marijuana treasure hunts” on Halloween and now Easter, as it was hosted last week during the edgling Og Gog’s so-called Marijuana Job Fair.

Sadie, a UTSG student, found out about the job fair through Cameron via the daily text blast Og Gog sends to all its subscribers. Previously

being a dealer in her hometown, she gladly but cautiously surrendered $100 for one of the coveted tickets to the event. But instead of a convention lled with booths and corporate swag bags, Sadie found herself and over an estimated 200 people, nearly all of which appeared to be stoned, in an alley by 15 Mercer Street next to The Second City comedy club downtown.

Following a slapdash Easter egg hunt and a Second City comedy show (starring a trio of comedians that openly declared they were already high off edibles supplied to them before they performed), Chris, also baked, took to the stage and pitched the Og Gog digs as a startup investment; the dispensary was looking for new cannabaristas to help push their product as they moved to liquidize MIB and open Og Gog’s agship downtown this spring.

“He straight up told us, ‘You’re all here because you’re looking for a job,’ and he said that everyone there ‘has the job if they want it,’” Sadie shared. “Cameron contacted me a week later [after the job fair] and asked if I had any questions about what they were doing. He said there would be a training session soon, and if I came I would get a jacket and business cards and a badge.”

“I just want people to approach people and not feel like, ‘Oh, I sell pot, I’m a drug dealer,’” Chris is quoted as saying at the job fair. “It needs to be respectable and presentable so that people can dress up in a nice suit [and] tie, go to nice events, and give a business card with something on it that is legitimate.”

Og Gog has the intention of being as legit of an establishment as possible under the current laws, and it shows in the way they’ve taken to managing their growing network of cannabaristas,

though their method of approach and interaction stands to be improved.

Texting seems to be the primary if not only viable method of communication between agents, clients, and the corporation itself, and Chris’s informality does not complement his propositions well despite strong indications that Og Gog already has a comprehensive business model with a promising rate of return. Chris says his strategy implements tactics learned from his previous occupation in the energy industry, on which he amassed a small fortune, and his hobby immediately prior, hustling pool.

By preemptively establishing an infrastructure for Og Gog, Chris hopes his enterprise will have a foothold in the marijuana market before the government can shape it post-legalization.

“Chris essentially said he wants to monopolize on this six month period [after legalization] when people don’t really know what to do,” Sadie shared. “They want to be ready once it’s legalized; they don’t want to start the process after that.”

Chris proudly defends his network despite its blatant illegality, saying, “If you want to try and get rid of the black market then you are going to have to integrate the black market and allow them to become legalized, ’cause they’re not going anywhere.”

The prospective Og Gog CEO owes much of his con dence to his faith in the strength of numbers. He assured the potential recruits at the job fair that the estimated 3,000 cannabaristas within the MIB/Og Gog network will also give his position further leverage in the event of legal con icts between retail policies.

Chris has always strongly and openly advocated for the growth of the marijuana industry as a source for more private-sector jobs in lieu of federal or provincial proprietors, favoring the pro ts Og Gog could generate for its potential employees, like Sadie, who makes roughly a three per cent pro t margin on her sales, if not more.

“That’s why I support Chris; he gives great deals and wants to make it even better, and it’s always a good quality product,” Sadie professed as she introduced me to her stash of Maple Leaf and Mad Man strains during our interview. She’s been encouraged by Og Gog to meet with one of their latest additions to the agency: “cannabis connoisseurs,” brokers that visit other cannabaristas or customers with a selection of strains and/or edibles that they personally describe and recommend for purchase. The Og Gog network is currently offering this sample box set to its text message subscribers for $300 each.

Sadie plans on attending the training day for cannabaristas on April 17 and eventually join as a broker. She’s hinted that along with the box sets and text blasts, Og Gog will have even more exclusive deals and offers for its customers.

“They de nitely have a lot of stuff ready to go so that when 420 comes, they’re ready.”

A storefront for the dispensary has already been acquired in downtown Toronto with plans to open on April 20, though its address has not yet been disclosed.

*This person’s name has been changed for the purpose of publication. 

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