[WATCH] From The Fringe | The Cannabis Evangelist

Have you had your 'breakfast of champions', asks cannabis evangelist Daniel Gauci? 

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Who is the gentleman smoker?

A gentleman smoker is more of a social media persona, really portraying and challenging the stereotypes of what a cannabis smoker is today. Not so much of the hoodie lazy layer bound in the room, but more of a professional family man, a valid member of society. And that’s what it aims to prove.

Can you really have a ‘Breakfast of Champions’ and then go to work straight after?

Personally, yes. A breakfast of champions for me, as we know, is maybe having a small smoke in the morning with a coffee and some breakfast. However, you have to understand my role during the day is more creativity, and building and maintaining relationships. These things are a lot easier to do like that, I mean, if I was having to operate 

heavy machinery or maybe take big responsible decisions during the day, I would probably leave the breakfast of champions for a day off. 

Is cannabis an aid for your productivity and relaxation?

In fact, yes. I mean, it’s got a bit more homed as the years have gone on, but yes, I think everybody’s mainly aware of the difference between sativa and indica. One is more cerebral; it gets the creative juices flowing so to speak. Whereas an indica is more of a body high and is more in relation to do with pain and relaxation. Yes, I manage them both through the day. Obviously, a sativa in the morning gets me very motivated, gets me through my routine planning of the day and really makes me productive. 

What is your favourite strain?

Always, for the past few years, Jack Herer. For reasons that I suppose are quite personalised, its therapies are spicy and very earthy. It has a very good balance, being cerebral and calming at the same time. I just find it really good and I like the person that it’s named after. He is one of the best activists in my opinion of the last few decades.

Is it an indica or a sativa?

It’s an indica but it has that slight sativa punch that doesn’t necessarily give you the couch lock most indicas give you.

Do you think Malta is ready for full on liberalisation?

I’d say yes, personally. Let’s be honest, Maltese people are always ready for anything that’s thrown at them. They really handle everything well. I’ve always had a saying amongst my friends that the Maltese can make you or break you and that’s the same for industry, creativity, everything. If that passion is there, then yes, I believe it can. You have everything here. You have the passion, the education reform to actually set that up, and hopefully now we have the younger generation, coming through the professions that will actually implement that infrastructure.

What is the best thing cannabis has done for you?

There’s a lot of good things cannabis has done for me to be honest. I think the most profound, would be the treatments of my children. It’s quite well known that my daughter had cancer. She had a Wim’s tumor on her left kidney. We treated her with chemotherapy, surgery and full spectrum cannabis oils. I believe it was the trifactor that saved her. There wasn’t one key factor there, though the cannabis oils were definitely key. We’ve also found that CBD within certain autistic traits can help with focus and things like this. So especially for my son as well, I’d like to be able to treat him with the CBD oils. Apart from that, I’d say it gives me an enormous sense of relaxation and creativity and empathy. I think that creativity and empathy go hand in hand anyway, so it helps me on a number of levels.

What is the biggest downside to cannabis?

I think it’s about perspective as well. I think you can look at anything that most people would think as positive and find negatives. Although that’s skirting around the issue a little bit, there are certain negatives that surround cannabis. This can be abuse of the drug. Certain strains nowadays, that have been genetically modified, that we wouldn’t normally consider cannabis, and that you or I could grow on our balconies, are very strong and they can cause psychosis within certain people. So there is that moderation and common-sense level to be had here, as with most substances like alcohol and anything we engage in and enjoy.

What was your best experience while high?

There’s been many many good experiences but one of the ones I’ll never forget must have been when I was 22 years old. I was still living in the UK at the time and we were at a festival. There were a lot of friends and colleagues there, all at the same time. There were a few bands that I was into back in the day. There were Ocean Colour Scene, a proper indie 90’s kind of thing. We all have them certain memories where we kind of have the rose-tinted glasses from our childhood and that was one for me. For sure it was one of the things that stuck in my mind and I was very high that day as well.

…and your worst?

There’s a theme park called Alton towers in the UK which has some pretty extreme rides on. I mean I’m not an action man by any means of the sense and once you’re in, you’re in. You’re locked in there’s no coming back, and I was high. I was quite young, I was 19/20 and we were on a college trip, I believe. I started getting paranoid, my heart rate went up and the anxiety was there, so as we know marijuana can help with anxiety but certain times in certain situations, it can exacerbate it too. This is why it’s important to know what the strain is know what the dosage is, which we touched upon before. But yeah that was totally the wrong time, the wrong strain, the wrong dosage and I just wanted to get out. It was one of these ones where you’re hanging as well, I was strapped in and the heart was going. Of course, when you’re 19, you’re trying to show off a lot as well. Yes that was a pretty humbling bad experience for me that day. 

Is the world cured of ‘Refer Madness’? 

I don’t think we are a 100% cured of reefer madness. I think we can just look at the media in Malta alone, and the comments on social media. I think reefer madness is still pretty much ingrained in certain mindsets. Not certain generations but we have to understand that when we have propaganda thrown at us at young ages, without knowing that’s propaganda at the time, that syncs in. We have problems in society throughout this when dealing with racism, sexism, and we’re going to have this with marijuana and cannabis too. If we look at the campaign starting from the 30s, all the way through to the 50s, it was pretty bad. We even had the US President saying that smoking the equivalent of one joint, was taking the same amount of radiation of being on Bikini Beach through the atomic blast tester. We know this is absolutely ridiculous and that was the President of the United States at the time so, I think we have a lot to do. I think it changed with the internet, with culture and with science. There’s a lot more research being done now by a lot more scientists and we’re seeing the facts overcome any kind of propaganda. 

Will legislation kill the black market?

I think in relation to the black market, you’re never going to get rid of it a 100%. There’s always going to be a black economy, whether that will be in cannabis, bread or coffee. At certain points in certain times, these kinds of things will happen. If we talk about how legalisation can combat that, I think it’s fairly obvious if we look at Uruguay, Portugal models, where crime rates have gone down, dependency on harder drugs has gone down. Let’s not forget that cannabis is being used to treat more addictive substances such as heroin, methadone and alcohol. So, with legalisation, a framework, a taxation, a support system…yes, I think the black market will suffer and I think that society will benefit from the number of ways previously mentioned. Having a positive effect, rather than a negative effect and having the financing to do it too.

Does the same thing apply for harder drugs like heroin?

One is a substance, the other one is derived. One is naturally from a plant, the other one is derived from a plant. It takes a lot of process to get morphine and heroin from a poppy plant. There’s a lot of ways going through and that’s actually changed whether it goes into your body, as well as the way it’s metabolised. In the elicit market, especially with class As and even in pharmaceutical establishments, there are different gradings with the strengths, addictions and side effects…and cannabis is not in the same category as cocaine and heroin. I wouldn’t have the knowledge to say that but with cannabis for sure, the benefits far outweigh any kind of criminalisation.