Calgary ganjapreneur preaches virtues of cannabis in new gig
Comic and dance instructor parlays passion for cannabis into paying job
Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell once famously observed that getting great at anything requires 10,000 hours of practice.
What Gladwell probably didn't foresee was that he would inspire the sort of rigorous preparation that Calgary standup comic and breakdancing instructor Tyler Vemb undertook in order to land his latest gig.
Vemb is now getting paid to sample an assortment of cannabis products for a Toronto company called AHLOT (A Higher Level of Thought) as a member of its cannabis curation committee.
That's the name of the eight-person national team chosen from around 25,000 Canadians who applied to earn $50 an hour, or up to $1,000 a month, over the course of a year in which they give their opinions about AHLOT's cannabis-infused products.
For Vemb, cannabis isn't a consulting gig. It's a calling.
"I'm very passionate about cannabis as well," he said Friday in an interview with the Calgary Eyeopener.
"You know with anything that you're passionate about — I don't know if it's that [idea of practising for] 10,000 hours to become an expert at something — but the passion gives you a different kind of power stepping into anything that you want to do in life."
"[For me], that means cannabis."
Vemb, who divides his time between Calgary and Vancouver, spotted an ad last October asking for applicants for a product sampling committee to explore offerings emerging from the newly legalized cannabis industry.
"I applied and at the time I didn't know how many people were applying," Vemb said.
There was an application and a Google Hangouts kind of interview, at which point Vemb was asked to submit a one-minute video pitching why he should be chosen to be part of the cannabis committee.
That's when Vemb tapped into his creative life for a little inspiration.
"For the one-minute video, I actually made sort of a remix to O Canada and said O Cannabis instead," he explained.
Vemb, it turns out, is someone who can wax rhapsodic about the positive outcomes involved in consuming cannabis. His unique blend of cannabis evangelism, and Canuck humour, caught the attention of AHLOT.
"When I found out I got the job, I was really … like 'am I dreaming?'" he said.
"The medical side of cannabis is something that I've been very passionate about. I've seen a lot of really cool things happen in my own personal life, and people that I'm close to and that I love, with using cannabis and vaporizing as a medicine — almost as a vitamin, if you will."
The dream became real on Monday — April Fools' Day — when Vemb and seven other successful applicants, including Edmonton's Amanda Bladon, started work.
First week arrives
And just as baseball pundits don't jump to conclusions after a week's worth of ball games, Vemb isn't drawing any insights from a week's worth of cannabis consulting.
"We're still sort of in the first weeks … so I can't comment fully on how it's going to go yet," he said.
There are forms to fill out, as each committee member assesses the impact of each strain of cannabis product — which Vemb understands comes with some of the unique side-effects that cannabis consumption can promote.
"Let's get things done right. Different strains might make you feel like — OK, it's nap time," he said.
Just don't call his new cannabis consumption gig a day job.
"Not every day, no," he said. "There's a certain amount of samples per month and that number [is] still to be determined."
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.