Over the past few months we have been putting together a brand new series designed to give you an insight into some of the activists working towards legalisation in the UK cannabis industry.
Our first episode features Sy Dignam from Hampshire Cannabis Community. For the past few years we have met Sy at several events and always see him flying the Hampshire Cannabis Community banner loud and proud!
We sat down with Sy this week to see what drives him, and what his aims and ideas are around the blossoming cannabis industry that we can expect with legalisation in the UK.
Quick Links: ISMOKE Interviews Series One
Tyler: Welcome to an episode of ISMOKE Interviews, with me, your host, Tyler Green. This series is designed to show you some people that are making moves in the UK cannabis scene, whether they are activists, club founders, or people doing important medical work, this series is designed so that we can interview them, give a bit of insight into what people are doing and how the UK industry is operating at the moment.
Today I have with me Sy (Dignam) from Hampshire Cannabis community. I first met Sy at a cannabis event well over a year ago now, and since then I think I have seen you every event.
Sy: Pretty much. We do bump into each other a lot!
Tyler: Today we’re gonna talk about Sy in this episode of ISMOKE Identities.
Tyler: Sy – we know you as a cannabis activist and campaigner. Was this always your goal or did you ever have any dreams outside the world of the cannabis before this took over?
Sy: No – I was a normal 9-5 family man before four years ago, before I got into this it, so it was never my dream of mine to do this
Tyler: So for the last four years you’ve been involved in the scene and in the industry
Tyler: How long did it take you after getting involved to setup Hampshire Cannabis Community?
Sy: Erm, probably about a month. I found about about all the movement that was going around, then I met up with Clark French and this is where the cannabis went from me just smoking cannabis to actually you know believing in it and seeing the medical side and it changed my world.
He was running Hampshire at time and he’s an MS Patient. I got to know him and he was telling me about his journey with the cannabis and his MS. So it was amazing what I found out and you know, smoking cannabis for 30 years I didn’t know any of this, I was just you know normal stoner. But you know once I found this out, Clark gave me Hampshire to run so it went from there.
I went full-on long researching, I wanted to know everything about it – what different strains did, what different medical conditions they were good for… Like before, I never even could tell the difference between strains but when I start going into it and taking note of what I was smoking, there is such a difference between each strain, it’s amazing.
Tyler: I like to compare it with like a fine wine, or a coffee – for example, it’s like there’s this whole culture around Cannabis and the different varieties and strains that a lot of people don’t have much insight into because unfortunately, they just get what they’re given, which is a bag of weed at the end of the day, from their dealer. They don’t get more information than that, but when you actually take the step of learning and saying “let’s have a look at what I can learn about cannabis,” it is such a wide and varied and interesting world..
Sy: Oh It is.
Tyler: Outside the world of cannabis what is your favourite thing to do?
Sy: Probably play my guitar. Yeah.. I’m not very good at but I know a few chords so I can sit there and have a little strum.
Tyler: What sort of music do you tend to listen to?
Sy: Erm, usually Pink Floyd… A Bit of country… I like everything from classical to country, heavy metal, Pink Floyd and Kate Bush are probably my favourite.
Tyler: What’s the most fun thing to play on the guitar?
Sy: Erm.. Wish You Were Here By Pink Floyd, only because I can play it. [laughing] Some of it… Some of it.
Tyler: This is the bit where if we had a production team I’d cut to Sy doing a Pink Floyd solo on his guitar but unfortunately we don’t guys, so you’ll just gonna have to imagine that scenario…
Tyler: So Sy, you are a child of the 70’s, is that correct?
Sy: I am. Born in 73′.
Tyler: And how have you seen cannabis perception change since you’ve been consuming?
Sy: Big time. I mean, when I first started, weed you couldn’t really get hold of. If you did it was import or Thai – you know –all crushed in, bit of string around it – it was mainly solid, and you never knew what you were getting with solid, you don’t know what is made from.
But erm, yeah, over the years, it’s got massive, the cannabis market and the scene, it is absolutely huge compared to what it was back in the 70s. You had to know someone who knew someone to go and get it. These days it’s everywhere. It’s so easy to get hold of.
Tyler: When was the first time you smoked? Do you remember it?
Sy: Yeah I do, very vaguely. I was 15 years old, I was round a friend’s house. I was hanging around with people lot older than me. And there was four of us – he’s just bought an eighth of rocky and we were all sat in a circle and you know, had a couple of drags, passing it round.
By the third time it came around to me, I was asleep on the floor. I woke up and was sick everywhere, it really didn’t agree with me. Massive whitey!
ISMOKE Your Way
Tyler: Now this a section which I’m sure my viewers will enjoy. This is called ISMOKE your way. This is my chance to smoke with something that you enjoy as well as for you to share it with our viewers. Have you bought anything for us to enjoy today?
Sy: I have – because I’m a seventies child I’m old fashioned, I still like a joint, I can’t get away from the joint. When I’m not smoking the joint, I go for the pipe. I do usually have a tiny bit of tobacco in it which I won’t be doing today because I am trying to get away from it.
Tyler: Awesome – ISMOKE Pure!
Sy: Yeah, it’s got to be done.
Tyler: So, Sy, tell us about the weed that we have here today.
Sy: All right, I’ve brought with me these two here. Both grown organically, so no nutrients at all. This one’s early skunk – very small buds, that’s the only thing with the organic grows – not a lot of yield on it, but it’s clean. And some White Widow, which is really nice.
Tyler: Looks great – I’m going to have a sniff of this – let’s start with the Early Skunk. Mmmm… Getting like sweet, sweet notes. It’s interesting because with skunk, what I expect is that skunk number 1 pungency when you break it open – I’m wondering when we break these open how it’s gonna smell.
Sy: They do smell a lot different when they’re ground.
Tyler: Mate – that pungency. It’s there now, it’s it. If you didn’t like weed then you’d get offended with that smell.
Tyler: I like small glass pipes, because you seem to get quite a good flavour because it’s [the smoke] not got like a lot to travel. You just have to be careful it doesn’t get too hot.
Tyler: What was the seed company?
Tyler I’ll look it up, and I’ll probably put it about here [Early Pearl X Skunk No.1] on the screen, so you guys know what it is… That’s nice, actually – one hit in, and I’m already getting that nice first hit of the day feeling. [Laughs]
Nice, so, ISMOKE Your Way – We’ve tried out Sy’s glass pipe. I’ve now got a joint which we are going to smoke while we continue our questions – and would you like to do the honours?
Sy: Really the law is you rolled it, you light it…
Tyler: That is true, but you are my guest, so, [looks at camera] breaking the law.
Tyler: So Sy, I’ve seen you walking your dogs in fields of green. I also know that you live right next to a beach, you must be spoilt for choice of smoking spots in your area -where’s your favourite?
Sy: Probably where I walk with the dogs. It’s a big field and then you’ve got tall cliffs. It’s lovely, when it’s quiet. I’m about six miles from the beach, so I don’t go down there very often – usually when holding an event. I like the field, I like the countryside.
Tyler: Have you ever gone across to the Isle of Wight
Sy: Erm.. I have, not for a few years. Yeah, there’s not a lot over there.
Tyler: I hear that there’s a bit of a canna community over there – I don’t know much about it…
Sy: There is an Isle of Wight Cannabis Club – I think they’re part of the UKCSC. I don’t know how active they are, but I have spoken to the people that run it a few times.
Tyler: I wonder what the prices would be like on the Isle of Wight compared to the UK mainland?
Sy: You’d think they’d be probably higher, wouldn’t you, because it is an island.
Tyler: Yeah but it depends if people are growing on the island.
Sy: Yeah, they do – I know someone who does, so yeah they do.
Tyler: Part of what you do with Hampshire cannabis community involves the street walks. Can you take us through that, and what you are trying to achieve by doing these street walks?
Sy: We’ve got a little street team. We just go out in the town centre, put the banner up, wave the flag, hand some leaflets out. We don’t go out there to push our views onto anyone but we get a lot of people coming to us that are actually interested and want to find out more about the medical side of it – we’re there to give information to get this bad stigma off cannabis and to try and change a few people’s views on it.=
Tyler: Let’s dispel some propaganda: What is the most wrong thing someone has ever tried to tell you about the cannabis?
Sy: That it causes psychosis, that’s the worst one. That it kills brain cells – it’s the mental aspect of it. “It’ll fry your brain”
Tyler: It’s a hangover of the same propaganda that they were using in America in the 30’s and 40’s isn’t it.
Sy: Yeah – Nothing’s changed, and you’d think that after that many years 60, 70 years that people would have seen the truth in it – it’ll get there, it’s got to.
Tyler: We have to keep dispelling this propaganda.
Sy: Now we have an argument for anything anyone can bring up.
Tyler: And we’ve got the medicals studies to back it up as well.
Sy: That’s right, yeah. It’s so hypocritical. We all know that GW pharmaceutical sell Sativex which is 100% cannabis-based medicine, and then they’re like “no, that doesn’t happen really”
Tyler: Inflated Prices
Sy: There’s no medical values.. But there is, because you’re selling it! I don’t get it.
Tyler: So this bit’s just for a bit of fun – to find more about you, and to do something quite British. It’s called the cottonmouth quencher.
Tyler: So I’ve got us a cup of tea here. After the joint and the pipe, I think it’s a good idea to quench our thirst.
Sy: Yeah it’s definitely a needed thing when you’re smoking..
Tyler: Lovely… Still got half the joint here!
Sy: I’ll be crawling out of this interview I think!
Ty: We haven’t even hit the bong yet
Sy: I know [both laughing]
Tyler: So, do you like cups of tea?
Sy: I love tea. Also coffee, but I’m a snob with coffee. I only like posh coffee, I don’t like any instant. But my normal drink is tea.
Tyler: [Heavy Sigh] Now that we’re in the zone and we’ve relaxed a little – We’ve got two more strains to review, this was just the first strain.
We get to get number two in the bong. Do you want to try the Dogwalker OG?
Sy: Yeah, go on then.
Tyler: It’s gonna be featuring in a review soon – it’s like a very gassy stardawg.
Sy: It’s dense as well
Tyler: Really dense. I overuse the term pungency on the channel but the weed that I smoke is so f*****g pungent that there’s just no other word for it!
Sy: That’s like “I only smoke good weed”
Tyler: Are you a bong man Sy?
Sy: Occasionally. Not very often
Tyler: When was the last bong that you did?
Sy: About three days ago.
Tyler: Oh nice, so quite recently then.
Sy: Yeah – I knew I was coming here, so warming myself up, getting myself ready.
Tyler: So I’ll kick things off with the Dogwalker OG, and you can have a bong after if you want?
Sy: Yeah, go for it.
Tyler: Nice – See you on the other side guys, cheers.
Tyler: It’s such a nice strain – it hasn’t got the acridity of like when you smoke shit weed in a bong, it tastes horrible – you start tasting it when you’re inhaling. You don’t get that with this, it’s quite smooth on the inhale. But what you do get: it’s got so many trichomes that sort of makes you feel like you’ve done a big dab.
Sy: Do you get that stinging feeling in your nose?
Tyler: Sort of – a little bit, but it not like… it’s just making me squint a little.
So Sy has the Dogwalker OG and is about to consume it through the Chongz Widow Maker.
Tyler: That was an interesting technique man, that was like a rasta technique.
Sy: I have to. I haven’t got the lungs to do it in one, so I have to sort of breathe it in, let a bit out of my nose and get my breath back.
Tyler: That’s awesome. I’ve never tried that. How did you find it?
Sy: That’s lovely – I’m not coughing, which says a lot. I normally cough after a bong, but it was smooth, and I can feel it sort of…
Tyler: Washing over?
Tyler: Something I wanted to ask you – are jaffa cakes a cake, or a biscuit?
Erm.. does anyone know the answer that? I’d say biscuit.
Tyler: I think that they’re cakes…
Sy: Are they? Well you say Jaffa Cakes
Tyler: Yeah, I think that they proved it – I just wanted to ask you, because I thought it was a funny thing to ask, so thanks for answering.
The cottonmouth is quenched – or perhaps it will come back? We’ve got the tea at least to deal with it.
Tyler: Your facebook profile photo features a lot bud.
Sy: It does
Tyler: Tell us about that – what’s the story behind that?
Sy: That was a trip to Morocco. Myself and two friends. We got speaking to somebody on facebook and he said come over, so we went over there – we flew into the wrong part of Morocco so we had to jump on a train and travel ten hours across Morocco. It made the trip, actually, it was amazing.
We’ve got up there and we ended up with somebody with so many acres of weed. We stood on the top of this mountain and every mountain you can see was just full of weed. It was scary but such an experience and that weed in the photo was just on top of the roof drying out, just piles and piles of it – so we had to get a photo!
Tyler: Is that the most weed that you have ever been around?
Sy: Yeah it is. Definitely. I mean driving down the road and there was just weed growing on the side of the road – nothing was hidden. It was just.. yeah, I’ve never seen plants like it
Tyler: So this was sort of a weed pilgrimage?
Sy: Yeah it was – we didn’t plan anything. We just got a flight and went and done it. But it was amazing you know for a stoner holiday, for a cannabis experience it was the best. It’s made me want to just go out now and try other parts of the world.
Tyler: There must have been some sketchy parts too, or was it all roses?
Sy: No it wasn’t – I mean they’ve all got dark, short hair over there and I’ve got like long blonde hair – and I was getting some real funny looks. We were in this little village in Ketama – that’s like the middle of the Rift mountains. And we were sat in this car and everyone was just looking like me – I was like “get us out of here!
Tyler: Is that when you are travelling down to the place?
Sy: Yeah yeah yeah. Because the bloke picked us up, but he went to the shop and left us in the car.
Tyler: I was watching on Facebook live I think it was John, he had a big joint – and I remember thinking gosh, I wouldn’t want to be caught out there!
Sy: No… It looked a bit dodgy on the video, but we were sort of out of the way.
Tyler: Oh ok, so there weren’t going to be police bowling past like..
Sy: No – we didn’t walk in the town centre with a big spliff [saying] “we’re here – Hampshire canna!”
Tyler: In a legal and regulated market, what would be your choice of profession and why?
Sy: I have thought about this. If It was actually what would I do? I mean at the moment I’m an activist and that is my life but it was legal I really don’t know whether I’d want to work in a dispensary or.. I don’t know the answer to that. I know I would love to grow it and if I could grow it, then I could play with strains, make my own seeds and see where it went from there, whether I could go down the medical route .. It would open so many options for me, if it was legal.
Tyler: So basically you’d want to be in the cannabis industry, but you can’t pick exactly where.
Sy: Yeah – I mean, there would be so many jobs available, int there? You wouldn’t know until it’s actually happened.
Tyler: It’s going to be so good when the law changes and people have the option to actually fully explore their entrepreneurial ideas, we’re losing out because all of the good ideas are happening in the US already!
Sy: They are
Tyler: And they’ll just bring big canna business to the UK
Sy: I think that’s why people are getting ready now, aren’t they.. You know – there are a lot of companies out there that are getting these sort of small companies going, even it is just stalls at events. They’re still getting ready for that.
Tyler: What would you say your top three cannabis strains are and why?
Sy: Well I like anything Indica, so, ones I’ve smoked recently: Lavender – is very nice. White Widow, lovely especially organically grown – it is a really nice smoke. But I’d say my favourite, especially this year, is CBD Critical. It’s not very high in THC and it’s such a mellow buzz, but you can tell the difference with the CBD in it. So I like.. I’m going down that route of having a bit of CBD in my weed, I do like it.
Tyler: It was great trying that. That was a really nice strain – I understand why that would be in your top, because it was a different experience.
Sy: It’s the sort of strain that I would like to always have some of. I wouldn’t smoke it probably all the time, but it’s nice to always go back to it.
Tyler: What age do you think it’s acceptable to start smoking weed?
Sy: Erm.. I’d say 18. The old man sort of part of me would say 21.. but no, 18. You’re an adult at 18 in the eyes of society, so yeah, it’s your choice.
Tyler: You have been an activist for a number of years now, what advice would you have to give to people that maybe interested in joining the cannabis community, getting more involved, or want to be able to help the cannabis legalisation movement?
Sy: There’s quite a few different ways you can get involved. Following clubs on Facebook to see what they’re up to. Get some leaflets – on the street, hand them out to people, you’re an activist. Talk to everyone you see – talk to them about cannabis. Get people’s reactions.
Tyler: Get out of your comfort zone?
Sy: Yeah, definitely
Tyler: And talk to people – more than half of the country want to legalise cannabis. They don’t give us the choice because they know that we would vote to legalise it.
Sy: Yeah. A lot of people are just too scared to stand up and say yeah I do, I want it legal as well.
Tyler: But behind closed doors, we know that a lot people from all walks of life use cannabis
Sy: Oh they do.
Tyler: And we need to get it legalised so that people don’t feel that they need to do it in secret.
Sy: Yeah. There’s quite a few jobs out there with random drug tests. Cannabis should not be on that list!
Tyler: So Sy, last up, we have a quickfire round, this is just a bit of fun.
Tyler: Don’t worry about any of your answers, we are just gonna go with the first thing and see what comes out of it, yeah?
Tyler: Weed, hash or extract?
Tyler: Living room, pub, bar or club?
Sy: Living Room
Tyler: Would you rather be too hot or too cold?
Sy: Too cold.
Tyler: Would you rather get stranded on a desert island or abducted by aliens?
Sy: Stranded on a desert island.
Tyler: Would you prefer it to be Christmas every day or never?
Sy: Never. That makes me sound like a humbug, but Christmas costs me a fortune, man!
Tyler: What era of time would you most want to travel back to?
Sy: The 80’s, I like the 80’s.
Tyler: What’s the best month of the year?
Sy: August – my birthday.
Tyler: We’ve got the White Widow to try, just before we tie up the episode. This bud is beefy.. That’s organic as well, so it’s the genetics, isn’t it?
Sy: It hasn’t been cured.
Tyler: It hasn’t been cured yet?
Sy: No. It’s dried properly but..
Tyler: Needs a bit longer on the curing.
Tyler: It smells good… [grinding] Oh, that smells bloody lovely mate!
Sy: Oh, that is nice
Tyler: Yeah I’m really impressed with the smell of that. That is better than the White Widow I reviewed.
Tyler: Yeah. Definitely. Definitely.
Sy: So that’s what organic does
[Sy hits bong]
Tyler: Nice. How was it?
Sy: Nice. Yeah it was smooth – no tickle on the back of my throat at all.
Tyler: Okay, so I’m going to consume some of the White Widow Organic – looking forward to this. And I will see you on the other side guys, cheers!
[Tyler Hits Bong]
Tyler: Wow. That was a big one.
Sy: Yeah that was. I didn’t wanna say anything but.. [laughs]
Tyler: Oh my gosh. That was erm, that was very flavourful. Yeah that was nice. That was really nice.
So that has been an episode of ISMOKE interviews featuring Sy Dignam from Hampshire Cannabis Community.
Sy: Thanks for having me.
Tyler: It has been an absolute pleasure mate, really enjoyed this and it has been good to get an insight into what you like, what you’re doing, what your ideas are. And yeah, it’s been really fun man, consuming these strains.
Sy: Yeah, it’s been great.
Tyler: Thanks for coming, Sy. This is your time to share any information you want with our audience if you’ve got a message or you wanna say anything at all; look at the camera and feel free…
Sy: I’d just like to plug our memberships – if you go on to our website which is www.hampshirecanna.co.uk and go to our shop you can get a membership. Now with a membership you can get access to our forum which is on the website on the members area. And we also have a closed group on facebook which you can join. There’s also discounts for various local shops. That’s for a life membership, so really it’s just a bit of support for us to help us keep getting funds for buying leaflets and stuff like that.
So yeah, go to the website and join us – Hampshire Canna.
Tyler: Join the movement – you don’t have to be from Hampshire.
Sy: No you don’t. No, just join us. We’ll send you little card out with a leaflet. And you get to, you know, interact with other members. It’s quite a safe little room because we know everyone.
Tyler: If you enjoyed this video, head over to our Patreon page and check out how you can support the channel yourself – that’s www.patreon.com/ismoke.
We will be back very soon we another episode of ISMOKE interviews. That’s it from us guys – as always, thanks for watching and keep toking.
What did you think of this episode? Tweet us and join the conversation @ISMOKEMAG using the hashtag #ISMOKEInterviews