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The Artist’s Way: How I ended up in the Canadian cannabis business

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So, it should come as no surprise that a number of musicians have gravitated toward the industry and are actively aligning themselves with cannabis brands they feel best represent who they are as artists. There is a caveat though: from a regulatory standpoint, this is a lot trickier to do in Canada than in the United States.

That’s one of the great ironies of Canadian cannabis law: marijuana is legal to use, carry and grow (up to four plants per household, that is), but there are major restrictions on how it can be marketed and promoted. South of the border, the opposite seems to be true. Although cannabis remains illegal at the federal level in the U.S., there are few, if any, barriers to hiring musicians to promote particular brands.

Outside of my music career, I have a number of business interests. While staying vigilant and conscious, I’m always looking for projects that bring creative ideas to life.

Raine Maida is co-founder and director of LOOP/POOL. / Photo by Supplied

This is what makes Ian Kwechansky, CEO and co-founder of LOOP/POOL, and the organization itself different. My involvement with LOOP/POOL, a Canadian artist-focused, social-forward cannabis brand, has very little to do with lending my name to a brand. The chance to leverage cannabis rules — which allow artists to be owners, but not ambassadors — with a company whose mission statement is to give back to the developing artist community is what got me onboard.

During my 25 years in the music business, having witnessed most every aspect of the industry firsthand and intimately, I feel I understand the challenges facing developing artists. Our Lady Peace put almost 645,000 kilometres on a mini school bus, criss-crossing the U.S. and Canada, eating ramen and playing every small venue imaginable, before band members were even able to pay the rent.

The challenges for new artists are 10-fold today, what with streaming diminishing the support systems of labels and publishers and the fact that many artists are independent and have fewer resources from which to pull.

I had access to resources — including budget for albums, tour support and video and social media campaigns — but these either no longer exist or are much more difficult to tap. In the new economy, much of the heavy lifting is done by artists themselves.

LOOP/POOL has the ability to fill some of that gap. And that is exciting to me.

Giving back to the next generation of artists has always been a mantra for me, and the company allows this support to be continuous with its five per cent give-back program. Canada has many cannabis companies and brands vying for consumer attention, but the LOOP/POOL collaboration, one that directly supports emerging artists, makes it unique.

Raine Maida, lead singer of the four-time Juno Award-winning band, Our Lady Peace, is co-founder and director of  LOOP/POOL.

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