Article by Paul Forsyth, Niagara This Week
The burgeoning cannabis industry is expected to draw thousands of industry representatives to the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls this week, for the second major cannabis convention at the massive facility this year.
Called Grow Up, the third annual event running from Thursday to Saturday is expected to draw some 5,000 people, organizers say.
What’s being called Canada’s leading cannabis growing conference and trade show will focus on the education, collaboration and growth in the cannabis industry, connecting thousands of cannabis companies, said Grow Up president Randy Rowe of Welland.
“Grow Up is a great opportunity for anyone in the cannabis space to connect and learn from other cannabis growers and experts from around the world,” he said in a news release.
Rowe told Niagara This Week that the show will bring cannabis growers, researchers and suppliers together. While it’s officially known as a “business-to-business” event, the conference also has a full-day, hands-on workshop on growing cannabis at home on Friday that regular folks can attend.
“We also allow the public that may have in interest in starting a company or service in the cannabis industry to attend,” said Rowe, although he noted the conference won’t have any “product or swag” available for consumers.
Among the featured speakers will be tech entrepreneur and former head of Mike’s Hard Lemonade Anat Baron, former Canopy Growth Corporation CEO and chair Bruce Linton, Aurora Cannabis Inc. chief corporate officer Cam Battley, the so-called “Guru of Ganja” Ed Rosenthal, Tony Chapman of Tony Chapman Reactions, and Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati who is scheduled to make opening remarks.
Thursday’s events at the Scotiabank Centre include conference sessions from 9:30 a.m. to noon, with a keynote address by Dragon’s Den’s Manjit Minhas, with more conference sessions in the afternoon. Friday’s events run until 5 p.m., followed by a VIP networking party at Table Rock restaurant from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Saturday’s events run until 5 p.m.
Topics covered in sessions range from the future of cannabis beverages and investing in cannabis to cannabis edibles, regulations and the environment, and nano technology and plant growth.
Rowe said people are coming from as far away as Australia, China and Africa to the conference, spurred on by the huge growth potential of cannabis now that recreational cannabis is now legal in Canada.
The next big thing for cannabis will be edibles and infused drinks, said Rowe.
“The adult beverage market is one of the largest in the world and come this fall it will be legal to produce cannabis-infused beverages,” he said.
Diodati said now that cannabis is legal, it’s opened up entirely new opportunities in Niagara.
“There once was the gold rush, and now they’re calling it the green rush,” he said. “It’s legal and it’s opening up many business opportunities in health and well-being as well as infused into mainstream culture,” said Diodati.
The mayor said the counterculture reputation of cannabis in years past doesn’t reflect who will be attending the weekend convention.
“People might be surprised as to the number of suits and business people that will attend; bankers, accountants, legal, security experts, LED lighting people (and) soil people,” said Diodati.
Rowe also announced the first Grow Up awards gala to be held at the Greg Frewin Theatre on the night of Thursday, Sept. 12. Tickets for that event are $185. The event will be hosted by Cash Cab host and comedian Adam Growe, with a performance by magician Greg Frewin.