Tokers' Haven Failed, Opens Museum, Cafe

Chris Dalman's dream of running a "sanctuary for true believers of
cannabis" in Osborne Village last April turned to ashes when his
Cannabis Devout Mission Cafe opened and closed in the same month.

Eighteen months later, the pot advocate is back in the high life again
- -- sort of -- after opening the Canadian Cannabis/Hemp Museum and 420
Lounge Cafe in downtown Winnipeg.

But unlike the Osborne venture, the only pot that'll be passed around
inside the newly renovated walls at 304 Notre Dame Ave. will be filled
with hemp tea or coffee.

To celebrate his new digs, Dalman is throwing a party tonight at 6
p.m. for the reefer-madness movie Potluck, which is opening across the
street at Towne 8 Cinema, at 301 Notre Dame Ave. The movie showings
tonight are at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

"We're the official movie party headquarters," Dalman said yesterday.
"People are going to come down, see the movie and come to the party."

Dalman, 33, still worships cannabis sativa as the "No. 1 most
significant, valuable plant on the planet," but he says his earlier
attempt to spread the ganja gospel taught him some hard lessons --
namely that the grass isn't greener on the other side of the law. (His
Osborne landlord, not the cops, shut him down.) "We learned the
radical approach definitely doesn't work anywhere, especially in
conservative Winnipeg," he says inside the funky little 420 Cafe,
which serves hemp-based drinks and snacks.

"Rather than forcing Winnipeg, or any laws, to change, we're going to
wait for that change to happen by itself."

Papered with clippings

(The name 420, a 1970s toker code, is said to refer to the police code
for marijuana use, the time of reggae legend Bob Marley's death or
simply the best time of day for lighting up.)

The walls of the cafe and adjoining museum are papered with news
clippings, dating back to the late '60s, that track the evolution of
Canada's cannabis laws.

Those laws, Dalman says, are the only thing holding him back from
providing the service people really want -- a place to gather and
smoke. "We're not going to lie to people," he says. "We do appreciate
cannabis and we do smoke it privately. But we're here to focus on the
hemp foods and coffees and to reach the public who need to be educated
that it (cannabis) is not something to be feared."

The museum, run by Dalman's mother, is "basically a Canadian monument
to advance cannabis awareness and pay homage to its history," he says.

It offers a global glimpse into both the hallucinogenic and
utilitarian properties of the cannabis plant with hemp artifacts and
pot propaganda from around the world.

The former section includes Chinese hemp sandals, 1940s hemp-shore
thread from Ireland, one of Canada's largest hemp-ship ropes and
letters from Manitoba farmers singing the fibre's praises to Ottawa
back in 1882. The latter includes the first Canadian edition of High
Times magazine, out-of-print posters and an entire showcase devoted to
Amsterdam's heady history as the world's pot-smoking mecca.

Dalman's mom, who declined to be named, knits the hemp tuques and
slippers sold in the gift shop, along with other hemp clothing, snacks
and beauty aids and her son's homemade hemp-stalk pipes. (Apparently
mom's OK with hawking hemp, but is hesitant to endorse the head-shop
wares.)

The Canadian Cannabis/Hemp Museum -- the first in the country, Dalman
says -- is open daily at 11 a.m.

Hemp-pancake breakfasts are held Sundays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. to raise
money for local charities. For more information, call 942-HEMP.


Pubdate: Fri, 31 Oct 2003
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2003 Winnipeg Free Press
Contact: letters@freepress.mb.ca
Website: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/