LIFT&Co. landed at its usual spot for 2022 in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, surrounded by the opulence of skyscrapers, high-end restaurants, and major banking institutions. A few years ago, this location felt at odds with an industry still shedding the stigma of prohibition. But now that legal cannabis has proven itself with an estimated $43.5-billion boost for Canada’s GDP while indirectly sustaining 151,000 jobs nationally, the event is exactly where it belongs.
With a growing number of cultivators, expansion of retail outlets, and a strong trade show market in the U.S., it’s clear that tides have shifted a bit in the North American industry. That still didn’t stop a healthy list of exhibitors and speakers at this event, presenting an optimistic outlook for the future up north.
One of the topical discussions that held the spotlight during the speaker sessions was the need to increase THC limits in Canadian edibles, which are currently capped at 10mg per package. This has long been a heated discussion between the Canadian government and edible manufacturers, who argue that legal consumers should be allowed to purchase a higher potency product.
Other engaging topics included how to master supply and demand in a changing market, and how cannabis is a “game-changer” for pain management and performance in athletes. But if there was one common theme that emerged from this four-day assembly of Canadian industry leaders, it was finding ways to navigate the constant evolution of what is still a very young sector.
“Rapid change is the current state of the cannabis industry, both in Canada and across North America,” said Barry Smith, content director for Lift&Co. “The health and vitality of this sector is evidenced at [the event] by the volume of representatives from emerging new start-ups, as well as the growing faculty of pioneer cannabis leaders who are founding second-generation businesses.”
One area that continues to be a topic of interest is the ongoing development of psychedelics and the potential for some degree of industry overlap, with many legal and cultural similarities at play. This was evident at Lift&Co. with an onstage talk given by prominent members of the psychedelics community, including Philippe Lucas, president of SABI Mind, Dr. Ivan Cassellman, chief psychedelics officer at HAVN Life, and Irie Selkirk, the co-founder of GoodCap Pharmaceuticals, to name a few.
“On May 13, Claire Stawnyczy, president & CEO, Lophos Pharma led a discussion on peyote’s place in the continuum of psychedelics, and we made sure to include Psychedelics Therapeutics on our May 15, Consumer Day as well,” said Lisa Petty, senior marketing manager of Lift&Co. “We continue to see interest in this topic grow, and will continue to program informative and thought-provoking psychedelics content.”
Of course, a big draw for this expo and many other events like it is the show floor, where consumers and industry members meander through isles of booths to get a sense of the latest offerings in cannabis manufacturing, production, and merchandise.
Exhibitor booths included everything from testing labs and pest control companies to white label manufacturers and large-scale cultivation machines. This year’s event appeared less consumer-focused than previous iterations, perhaps a signal that the novelty of legalization is waning as normalization takes hold across Canada.
Regardless, there was a healthy dose of variety on the show floor and one that reflected the important discussions being held in the hallways and on stage.
“For each event, we gather exhibitors who are pushing the envelope in cannabis products, services, and innovations. To complement these trendsetting booths, we continually debut new fun and features in the Expo,” said Petty. “When it comes to content, our programming in the Lift Cannabis Business Conference, and on our presentation stages during the Expo, focuses on up-to-the-minute topics and speakers at the leading edge of the industry.”
Perhaps the most optimistic element of this year’s event was the clear sign that attendees are returning after the tumultuous stretch of uncertainty through the pandemic. This upbeat attitude was only made more potent by the week-long hot and sunny weather that is far from an everyday occurrence in Toronto.