Cannabis Advocate Jason Gann Wants You To Feel The Freedom Of Wilfred

Jason Gann will be a speaker at the 2022 Australian Cannabis Summit.

It's been 20 years since Australian actor Jason Gann debuted his signature character Wilfred – a foul-mouthed, bong-smoking, anthropomorphic dog – in a short film that spawned both an SBS TV series and a US spin-off.

Now, in 2022, Gann is the successful co-founder and CEO of a cannabis, hemp and CBD company that's also somewhat aptly named Wilfred.

Jason will be a speaker at this month's fourth annual Australian Cannabis Summit, a free online event aimed at breaking the stigma of medical cannabis use – an issue Gann is passionate about.

"We've been talking about the medicinal value of cannabis, then you come up against self-medicating," he says, from his home in Spain.

"There's palliative care and cancer and there's a lot of, you know, intense illnesses like epilepsy. There's a lot of legitimate reasons to need cannabis.

"But there's also smaller reasons for cannabis, like depression. Well, not small matters really, but depression, PTSD, insomnia. And those things are where we really need to get the exact temperature right.

"You might be like, say, someone's miserable from their job from Monday to Friday, that would be probably considered by the medical fraternity as being recreational [use].

"For many years, I didn't see [my cannabis use as medicinal] as I believed it was recreational. But now, looking back, having been a regular stoner for more than a quarter century. It was definitely medicinal."

Gann's company website states that, through his enterprise, he is "establishing the perfect combination of his dual passions – hilarious content creation and cannabis".

How big a role did cannabis play in inspiring the creation of Wilfred? "Cannabis was definitely involved," Gann laughs.

"I was. . . visiting Adam [Zwar, co-creator and original series co-star]. . . and he's gone out on a date with a girl and I've fallen asleep on his couch smoking bongs and he's come home to tell me the story of how he's been blocked by her dog, the dog was just like psyching him out, and so I thought this was hilarious.

"So I started kind of interrogating him hypothetically in character as the dog, sort of like De Niro."

While having no current plans to return to the screen, Gann's character lives on as the mascot for his brand. "One of the lines for Wilfred cannabis is 'feel the freedom of Wilfred'. There's an image of him riding a horse bareback. It doesn't get any freer than a dog riding a horse," he laughs.

Is it a pipe dream (sorry) to one day see Wilfred products on Australian shelves? "That's a big challenge," he says.

"Some people write to me and say, 'bring it to Australia'. It's frustrating, because the loyal fan base is Australian. I want to get back to Australia and get more involved in trying to educate and help with the destigmatisation of cannabis.

"In Hollywood there is this stereotype of forgetfulness, always on the munchies. . . Cheech and Chong, so many cliches.

"But, if you were watching a movie, if a couple went to a bar they wouldn't start getting drunk and getting into fights and throwing up, they'd just have a couple of drinks.

"So one of the things that we tried in 'Wilfred' was normalising cannabis use and not just these kinds of stigmas that people associate with cannabis users as being dropouts.

"[Another] thing to help with so many tobacco-caused deaths is promoting smokeable hemp. It doesn't get you high, it does have the calming, soothing benefits that come with CBD."

Want to know more? Learn for free from Australia's leading cannabis doctors and cannabis industry as part of the free online Australian Cannabis Summit, which runs 28-29 October.

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