Local cannabis entrepreneur fights weed stigma

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A Halifax business is attempting to disprove myths and solve unforeseen obstacles as it trailblazes through the uncharted territory of the cannabis accessory market.

Doobtool Inc. is a Halifax-based company that creates and sells a cannabis case and multi-tool, designed to make smoking and carrying marijuana easier for an active user.

“The idea started as a necessity,” said Brett Evans, founder of Doobtool. “I still am a cannabis consumer with an active lifestyle.

Evans, a long-time cannabis activist, said part of his mission with the Doobtool is to disprove the stereotype of cannabis consumers being lazy.

“This stigma is something that was there from the beginning, and it’s still there now after legalization,” Evans said. “People still look at the cannabis consumer as lazy and unmotivated.

“Our job is to say the cannabis consumer is the everyday person.”

One of Evans’s first customers, Michael Williston, said the Doobtool fits with his lifestyle as a photographer.

“I’m a daily smoker and I’m a photography guy and I find that it helps me and my creativity, I suffer from some mental illness issues and without medical cannabis, I don’t think I’d be able to do my job,” he said. “The fact that its stigmatized ... that we’re just a bunch of lazy people smoking weed, it’s not really fair.”

The idea for the Doobtool came to Evans while he was trying to enjoy a smoke while out in nature. Evans, who enjoys hiking and camping, decided he needed something to hold his cannabis and make it more accessible while on the go.

“I needed something that could hold it all, like a little kit,” he said.

Evans searched the internet to no avail, so he decided to make it himself. Grabbing a shoebox and some duct tape, he crafted the first ever Doobtool.

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“Once I held that first prototype in my hand, the passion was sparked right there,” Evans said.

He said he still has the prototype and looks at it for inspiration when issues arise, something he said there has been no shortage of.

“I find if I’m ever in a time where I need a bit of inspiration, I definitely pull that out and look at it so I can understand where we started and how far we’ve come,” Evans said.

Moving into the cannabis accessory market was meant to be easy for entrepreneurs as Nova Scotia’s sole cannabis provider, the NSLC, said it purposely stayed away from that market to encourage development.

“We carry very little in the way of accessories. That was a deliberate decision as we prepared for legalization so that private retailers would have the opportunity to support that market,” said Beverley Ware, NSLC communications advisor, in an email.

However, many of the issues Evans has run into are a result of cannabis being an illegal substance through much of the United States. The company isn’t allowed to use crowdfunding sites or social media to promote its product.

“Anything that runs off of U.S. federal rules and regulations, we’re considered drug paraphernalia. So we’re not allowed to promote an elicit product,” Evans said. “The 21st century start-up relies on social media marketing, paid social media marking, I mean it’s a huge tool for anybody and we have basically been locked out of that.”

Evans said he believes he could avoid these restrictions by promoting the Doobtool as a tobacco product, but added that’s not what he will be doing.

“We’re not in the tobacco industry and we don’t want to be, we’re in the cannabis industry, we want to be a new brand in that industry and we’re excited to move forward in Canada, in Atlantic Canada most importantly,” he said.

Evans said because he can’t market online as effectively, he relies heavily on support from the local community.

“What we really try to do and what we’re really trying to push right now is to have Canadians and Atlantic Canada understand how much we rely on their support,” he said. “If they want to see cool, innovative products — the support is what will create it.”

But that doesn’t mean the Doobtool is only being sold to Canadians. Evans said he has shipped his product to people in Croatia, Germany, New Zealand, the U.S., and recently South America.

“We’re a local product, we’re the only cannabis multi-tool in Canada and one of the only ones in the world,” Evans said.

Despite all the obstacles, Evans said he isn’t fazed.

“There is a lot of hurdles that are backpacking off the illegality of cannabis,” he said. “But we understand that as you’re trailblazing through a brand new industry, that these are the things that you’re going to have to do in order to succeed.

“I feel like every single hurdle that I go through is another hurdle that someone else doesn’t have to go through.”

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