Solomon Israel

Although relatively new to Winnipeg, Winnipeg Free Press cannabis specialist Solomon Israel has deep family roots in our community. While he was born and raised in Boston, both of his parents - Linda Matchan and the late Dr. David Israel, were originally from our community.





“We used to come to Winnipeg maybe once a year when I was a kid to see my grandparents (Manly and Debbie Israel, and Red and Lillian Matchan),” he recalls. “The visits here gave me some perspective as to how my parents grew up.”
He comments how, in Winnipeg, a lot of people seem to recognize him as compared to the anonymity of living in Toronto.

Just as Winnipeg is in his genes, so is journalism in his blood. His mother, Linda, is a long time reporter for the Boston Globe – as well as a contributor to other prestigious American newspapers – and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. And his mother’s older sister, Carol Novis, who lives in Israel, used to write for the Jerusalem Post.
In fact, Israel’s introduction to journalism came in Israel, where he interned at the Jerusalem Post for a period of time after graduating from the University of Toronto. “Because the paper was understaffed at the time, I had an opportunity to experience real journalism in a variety of settings,” he says.

On returning to Boston, he notes that he free-lanced for the Boston Globe for a year. “I decided that I wanted to learn more of the technical skills involved in journalism,” he says. “So I applied to the Masters in Journalism program at Carleton University.
“I preferred Canada culturally to the United States,” he adds, in explaining his choice to study at Canadian universities.
Upon graduating in 2011, the budding journalist went right to work at the CBC.
During six years at the CBC, he notes, he worked mostly in business news. He was a producer of the “Lang and O’Leary Report”, and was part of the CBC News Network. Eventually, he was assigned to write business news for

About two years ago, he decided that he wanted to focus more on reporting. “I became really interested in the issues related to cannabis from a business standpoint ahead of the government’s legislation legalizing cannabis,” he says.
It turns out that the Winnipeg Free Press was thinking along the same lines. The Free Press posted an ad for a dedicated cannabis reporter to produce stories related to legalization.
“It was a great opportunity for me,” Israel says. “The Free Press was one of the first newspapers in Canada to focus on cannabis issues.”

Although Israel also writes articles on local issues for the paper, his principal beat is The Leaf – Cannabis News ( (Some of the stories also appear in the print edition of the Free Press as well.)
“I try to write for people who don’t necessarily know anything about cannabis,” Israel explains. “I have enjoyed getting to know the subject really well so that I can write about it with confidence and intelligently.”
A recent issue on line, for example, has Israel exploring what the federal political party leaders are saying (or not saying, he points out) about shaping cannabis policy after the election. In that same issue, he writes about the ill effects of liquid vaporizers and the effects on pets to cannabis exposure, as well as reprinting relevant national and international stories.

He also writes a regular advice column called “Dear Herb”. “I get a lot of questions about what the laws are,” he reports. “For example, the law states that you can only use cannabis on private property.
“I also get a lot of letters from people using cannabis for medical purposes.”
He adds that he really enjoys working for the Free Press. “The Free Press is still very well respected in Winnipeg,” he says. “That opens a lot of doors for reporters. People are willing to talk to Free Press reporters. I consider it a privilege to be able to work for the Free Press.”

Israel says that he gives our provincial government credit for doing a reasonable job in making legal cannabis accessible in Winnipeg. “Legal cannabis is harder to find outside of Winnipeg – but it is improving,” he notes.

For the foreseeable future, Solomon Israel has settled into his new community – and enjoys walking and biking in his Wolseley neighbourhood.