Just how mainstream cannabis has become became crystal clear at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls on Friday, with thousands of people — from investors and lawyers to businesspeople and those hoping to grow their own bud at home — packing in for the second day of the three-day Grow Up cannabis conference.
The massive exhibits room featured row after row of established or startup companies eager to capitalize on the fact that cannabis — once the symbol of counterculture in Canada with a long-standing stigma — is now legal across this vast land.
Stevensville’s Natural Insect Control (NIS), which produces beneficial insects that attack and eat harmful bugs that damage and feed on cannabis plants, was at the conference to promote its line of products.
John Robertson, there with his sister Susan Cavey, representing the family-run business, said his firm’s philosophy is all about avoiding chemicals and sprays to get rid of pests such as aphids, spider mites and thrips by using beneficial insects such as lady beetles.
“You put the good guys in to eat the bad guys,” he said.
Robertson, who was proud of the fact his company won his category at the Grow Up awards, held the night before at the Greg Frewin Theatre, said his company supplies commercial cannabis-growing operations but is also servicing the home-growing market now that it’s legal to grow your own pot at home. NIS even has packages produced for the homegrown market.
“It’s a pretty exciting time,” he said. “People like growing their own stuff because they have control over it and there’s no doubt it’s clean.”
Countless vendors lined the rows promoting everything from high-tech ventilation systems designed to get rid of 99.9 per cent of mildew that can be a problem in moist cannabis-growing conditions, organic worm castings for soil, lighting systems for growing plants, security systems, irrigation systems and grow-house filtration systems designed to prevent powdery mildew.
Oakville-based Pineapple Express Delivery was also there, promoting its same-day delivery services for such things as shipping cannabis-growing operations’ leaves to labs to test for such things as soil conditions, water conditions and potassium levels.
Company general manager Sarah Seale said time is of the essence for growing operations that can’t wait for slower, less-reliable delivery methods. “You need to get the test results quickly,” she said. “It really affects the product.”