Since its release a week ago, Pokémon Go has managed to dominate social media.

The game has raised Nintendo stock by $7.5 billion, connected people of every imaginable background and circumstance, and become a global phenomenon virtually over night (regardless of the fact it only officially launched in the US, New Zealand and Australia).

While the Alternate Reality Game (ARG) is defined first and foremost as a “game,” it has become a social juggernaut that crosses all walks of life.

Racial, societal and gender boundaries are being broken down, bringing people together like never before.

A quick look at the Pokémon Go subreddit and you’ll find a plethora of stories about people being surprised by the other trainers that they’ve bumped into — everything from children to the elderly, stock brokers to fast food artists and anything in between.

It’s the wide spread diversity and open social experience of the community that reminded me of another gateway to new friendships: cannabis.

My personal experience with Pokémon Go greatly echoes my experience with cannabis. You wander into a social setting, there’s a group gathered, talking and getting to know each other, having a good time, and as soon as you’re identified as sharing the common interest, you’re invited to participate.

A classic tale all of us probably can relate to, regardless if it was our first experience or one-hundredth.

The cannabis community is, for the most part, open, social, friendly and willing to share.

These are all themes that I’ve seen reflected in the experience of the Pokémon Go game.

People gathered at local ‘hot spots’ chatting it up, laughing, talking, sharing their trainer tips and welcoming new players who come in search of a new Pokémon or a Pokéstop for gathering gear — in spite of the ‘competitive’ nature of the game (with its three waring factions: Team Valor, Team Instinct, and Team Mystic).

Obviously, both social circles have more than just their positive natures which overlap, each with it’s own social stigma. Pokémon namely being seen as a children’s game, and perhaps getting some strange looks from outsiders unfamiliar with why people of all ages are suddenly spinning in circles while staring intently at their phone screens.

I think it’s important to remember both Pokémon Go and cannabis can be positive culture building tools. They are, at their core, interests that are shared across very deep and diversified pools.

So, as you head out into the world to participate in the wide world of Pokémon my recommendation is this: make sure to keep a friendly, positive attitude, along with a joint or two and you will find that you are very likely to encounter new friends that indulge in both of your passions along the way.

Additionally, if you are like myself and sufferer from anxiety issues or simply find the idea of a video game (traditionally a very isolationist and ‘safe’ activity) to be a little daunting, consider matching the experience with a high cannabidiol (CBD) strain to help steady your nerves, like the Shark Shock strain I use from Liberty Farms at Grass Roots Community Dispensary in Squamish.

It’s also worth noting that a series of Vape Lounges in Canada have been secured as Pokéstops and Gyms so, if you’re looking for a chill atmosphere, a bit of smoke, and some new friends/Pokémon to hang out with you should check those out; like our friends at Hotbox Café in Toronto.