Meet Australian cannabis activist, entrepreneur and hell raiser Will Stolk
In Australia, the cannabis industry is just beginning to take off. Although Australia still has restrictive cannabis laws, the situation is constantly changing. With the legalization of medicinal cannabis in Australia in 2016 and the recent decriminalization of cannabis in the Australian Capital Territory 20 January 2020 Australia’s laws are slowly evolving, but it has been a slow and grueling process.
Ambitious cannabis activists and entrepreneurs, however, are pushing legalization closer. One of the best known is a man named Will Stolk, who has a big personality and quite a varied resume.
Will Stolk being part of Who Are We Hurting? Collective that has campaigned for the legalization of cannabis for the past five years. As a former professional skier, Will Stolk knows what it takes to be determined and thrive against the competition.
The personal involvement of the Who Are We Hurting collective and Will has made him a major player in the cannabis industry in Australia and abroad. Currently on bail and awaiting their latest major publicity stunt, which saw Will and the rest of the Who Are We Hurting collective use powerful laser projectors to project cannabis leaves, art and Who Are We Hurting
Sydney’s famous Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. He and colleague Alec Zammit were arrested on April 20, 2022 and arrested after just completing the stunt in the Sydney waterfront. The two are being charged and will appear in court on December 20, 2022 in Sydney, Australia.
Considering all of Will Stolks’ contributions to the Australian cannabis industry, we decided it was about time
to meet for an exclusive first-hand interview.
Q: Why is cannabis important to you?
I’ve loved cannabis since I first tried it when I was 15 at a ski training camp in Canada. It was truly love at first train and would become one of my greatest joys in life. It transforms everything I already love – like sex, skiing, surfing, travel, food – and makes it so much better. Not only that, I’ve met the most wonderful and important people in my life through cannabis.
Now I have lifelong friends who share the same passions and commitment to cannabis as I do. Overall I don’t think I would have this incredible life and supportive people around me if the plant had never existed. It also has many medicinal uses which have helped many people I know personally here in Australia and abroad. It is a remarkable plant and has been used by people around the world for many thousands of years.
Q: What projects are currently underway in the cannabis industry?
In recent years we have started a few different cannabis related projects in the US as recreational states and countries which are of much greater interest to me at this time. One of our first projects was a fully fledged recreational cannabis dispensary called “Tioga Green” that we invested in, located high in the Sierra Mountains near the famous Yosemite National Park. We originally invested in this in 2019 in partnership with one of my longtime friends Cory Zila, who is also a former pro skier. Cory and I have traveled the world together doing competitions and shooting for magazines and films. Our lifelong friendship is heavily based on the fact that we are both stoners and have spent much of our adult lives hunting weed in various countries around the world, being legal now and owning a dispensary together would be something the Teenager William would have been very proud. Our second project was a hemp company for our furry friends called Inspired Paws.
I’m most excited about a new health and wellness brand called Byron Bay CBD. Our goal is to be the first major Australian CBD company to enter the US and European markets. The brand will focus on CBD-based products like tinctures, balms, and cosmetics. We want the new CBD brand to have a luxurious, natural and tranquil vibe. Inspiration for this comes from the incredibly chilled place I’ve lived since I was 16 in north NSW, a bohemian beach town called Byron Bay that’s world famous for its alternative lifestyle and beautiful outdoors with celebrities like Chris Hemsworth and Matt Damon it at home, just to name a few. .
Q: What about the Australian cannabis industry?
We will soon be going live with CBD in Australia as we have big plans for medicinal cannabis, but we have plans in markets closer to legalizing recreational cannabis, like Germany first. We’ve learned so much in the US and plan to bring our knowledge to the Australian cannabis industry as and when we move closer to legalizing recreational cannabis.
So far we have no plans to grow, manufacture and manufacture extracts from hemp and THC-rich cannabis. The only problem is that cannabis laws in Australia are totally backwards and I don’t see that changing anytime soon to be honest. The emerging markets of Germany and the rest of Europe, as well as Mexico, Thailand and other Asian countries are high on our hit list. Australia have a lot of potential but at this point we will play the long game.
Q: What are your thoughts on cannabis laws in Australia?
You are, of course, totally ridiculous. Everyone knows the laws are outdated and right now I believe the vast majority of people in Australia support full legalization of recreational cannabis.
This wasn’t always the case, which is why the Who Are We Hurting collective have been huge cannabis advocates for many years. Getting involved in cannabis advocacy is so important because we need to get out there and change people’s minds about cannabis use.
Legal cannabis will never get through in Australia if we don’t speak up – so that’s what my friends and I have been doing for the last 6 or so years to spread the word through various crazy and insane stunts designed to raise awareness for all right to excite reasons for it.
Recent case and point data unveiled by Australia’s Green Party show billions of dollars in potential tax revenue are lost annually from cannabis, money that could be spent on roads, hospitals and schools.
According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, Colorado generated more than $260 million in tax revenue in 2016 after selling more than $1.7 billion worth of marijuana. We would like to see a similar model implemented in Australia.
Q: What would you say to other aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs/activists out there?
It’s like looking down a huge cliff or a huge wave – you just have to try. The path is difficult but you have to push yourself and make it. Anyway, the thing is in Australia, anyone who wants to get into the cannabis industry has to be an activist first. Since the laws are so old-fashioned, I think the first thing we have to do is change them.
That’s why we need people of our current and future generations who are passionate about cannabis. You need to spread the word and work toward building an extraordinary Australian cannabis industry. There are already medicinal cannabis dispensaries popping up all over major Australian cities and that’s a great thing, they’re the building blocks of a huge future for cannabis Down Under. We are one of many down here driving the legalization agenda, members of the Greens Party, the Legalize Cannabis Party and the folks at Drive Change Australia are doing a lot of work to make it easier and fairer for Australia’s medicinal cannabis patients. And I take my hat off to them without their continued support and hard work behind the scenes, nothing would or will change.
Q: Will, what’s next on the agenda?
We are launching new brands and launching our first Australian CBD brand, Byron Bay CBD, to the US market in early January. We want to become “The Guiding Light Towards Health & Wellness”. Otherwise experience new things, learn more about cannabis and above all continue to be an activist. Legalizing cannabis in Australia for recreational use is one of my big life goals and is always at the forefront of my thoughts and while this is for financial gain the main reason is that I just want to be able to light a joint by the sea and don’t have to worry about being arrested for it like you can in California, Oregon, Colorado and many other legal states across the US, so we can’t give up the fight until recreational cannabis is legalized Down Under.
This won’t be the last you’ll hear from Will Stolk as he’s always up to something, whether it’s with his cannabis brands, media or advocacy. If you want to keep up with Will Stolk and see what he’s up to then check out some of his ongoing projects: @willysworld69 @willysworldpodcast @ballinonabudgetmedia & @plucreative& check out their amazing CBD products launching in North America in January come to market @byronbaycbd or on their website www.byronbaycbd.
CANNABIS LEGALIZATION IN AUSTRALIA, READ MORE…
COULD AUSTRALIA LEGALIZE DESPITE STATES’ OBJECTIONS?