Article by H.K. Abell, High! Canada
LIFT has come out as a presenter of some of the best expos and conferences in Canada at this point but did you know they are also involved in so many other aspects of the Canadaina cannabis community that its hard not to come across their name if like us, you work in the industry. From training modules for cannabis providers to access centres to Lift’s very active active advocacy role on behalf of med patients to the Lift rewards program aimed at giving back to the community that helped build them up.
Looking back at Lift one year ago, despite police crackdowns and raids on local dispensaries, and the threat of further action to come, thousands of people nonetheless flooded into the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for one purpose: to openly and legally celebrate the cannabis industry at the first ever Lift Cannabis Expo in Toronto. People from all over the world gathered to break the stigma of cannabis, and to share both their love and knowledge of the plant, whether as consumers, patients, growers, producers, or entrepreneurs. There were scientists who shared extraction techniques, distributors networking with business people, marijuana activists and their policy-making counterparts, and doctors wanting to learn more about how marijuana can help their patients.
Lift prides itself as being an organization dedicated to educating the public about all aspects of marijuana, and the Lift Expo is where that philosophy is put into action. Whether you’re a long-time consumer looking to explore new strains, or you’re just curious about how marijuana might be able to treat your arthritis, there will be something at the Expo for you. Want to learn about terpenes, or learn about other methods of consumption? Maybe you were thinking of starting your own garden, but you don’t know where to start. There will be something at the Expo for you. Interested in making edibles or topicals and want to learn about branding, marketing, and other ways to grow your business? The Lift Expo has nearly 200 companies exhibiting this year, as well as an extra Industry Day set aside specifically for those in the Canadian cannabis industry, for building relationships and networking. According to Lift founder Tyler Sookochoff, there just wasn’t enough time last year to make connections. “In some ways,” he says, “last year’s Lift Expo was too successful, and exhibitors we e at times overwhelmed by the foot traffic coming to their booth. We decided to add the Lift Industry Day because exhibitors demanded it. Both exhibitors and industry attendees wanted a day that would be a bit more conducive to meaningful conversation and provide them with more time to learn about all the new companies, products and services.”
This year, there are seminars from industry leaders on the topics of law and the cannabis business, marketing and branding, and investing in the cannabis industry. Learn how to work with investment banks and raise startup capital, discuss the future of marketing and the challenges and opportunities on the horizon, and explore all sorts of other ways to capitalize on legalization, which the federal government has committed to legislate by July 1, 2018. But the real highlight of Industry Day is the Lift Pitch, which will be moderated by none other than W. Brett Wilson of the CBC’s Dragon’s Den fame. Mr. Wilson will share his years of experience as an entrepreneur, how to succeed in business without sacrificing your principles, and his critical thinking approach to entrepreneurship. He will also judge top cannabis businesses as they pitch their startup ideas.
The exciting thing about this entire culture, as evidenced by the enthusiasm of everyone involved with it, is that it feels like everyone is on the ground floor – like everyone, whether it be growers, business developers, small or large entrepreneurs, right down to people working in retail weighing out those heady nuggs – is creating a business model unlike anything that’s come before. If you are interested and invested in cannabis culture and the cannabis industry, being a part of the expo is something historic. We are witnessing the end of the war on cannabis, and with that comes the ability for smart people to create their own opportunities, and the niches are nearly limitless. So many new brands are emerging, and the idea of putting the genie back in the bottle and trying to regulate marijuana as something just sold in liquor stores or pharmacies gets more and more ridiculous every day. We’re seeing cannabis being used for pediatric medicine, for sports medicine, for feminine hygiene products, as an alternative to pain and anti-nausea medication for cancer patients, and a plethora of other pain management applications. But we’re also seeing cannabis being used for skin care, for managing anxiety and PTSD, for stress relief, and for the pure joy of it. And as the market grows, we’re seeing cannabis coming in many different forms. Smoking and baking are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, as anyone who attends the expo will discover for themselves. There are cannabis soaps, cannabis bath bombs, cannabis lip balm, teas, lotions, energy drinks, iced tea, chocolates, gummy bears and a hundred other types of edibles. As cannabis moves out of the black market, it will give the economy a much needed boost as literally thousands of job opportunities will become available, not only for people looking to go into business for themselves, but also those just looking to work in the cannabis industry. If you’re one of those looking to ind a job working with marijuana, the Lift Cannabis Expo will be running Cannabis Career Workshops, so bring your resume.
This year’s Lift Cannabis Expo is going to be bigger and better than last year, with almost 100,000 square feet of exhibits (bring some comfy walking shoes – this is going to be huge) with nearly twice the exhibitors, meaning more information, innovation and instruction than ever before. Visitors can expect to connect with people from all facets of the cannabis industry, as Lift seeks to bring people together to build better business models. Whether you are looking to start your own dispensary, looking to invest, or just looking for some new brownie recipes, the Expo should prove to be a very exciting weekend for all who attend. Drop by the Vape Lounge and try the latest vaporizers, check out the exhibits, and make sure to visit as many workshops, panels, and Q&A sessions as you can.
Me, I’m going to be checking out the cooking demonstrations, maybe talk to some chemists about e x t r a c t i o n , a n d i n d t h e hydroponics booth, the different seed vendors, and talk to growers to get some tips on getting my inside garden going. Drop by the High Canada booth and share your experiences (and your brownie recipes).