While the temperature dipped well below freezing in Toronto, our editor chased the west coast sunshine to Vancouver this past weekend for a packed 3-day Lift + Co expo. She laughed: "I got lucky with the weather but overall it was a great opportunity to take in the who’s who of the Canadian cannabis scene and report back to our JADEO members who couldn’t make the show."
Here’s her recap:
Boasting over 20-panel discussions and some 200+ vendor booths spread across the Vancouver convention center, 3 days was just enough time to take it all in. As the first large Canadian convention since cannabis legalization, it afforded guests the opportunity to get an intimate sense of legal companies in the space from across the country and other parts of the world.
The show was a dizzying playground of cannabis companies to take in, with a new panel discussion every hour to compete with one's time discovering the show floor. Upon entrance guests were immediately confronted by high profile brands using an array of tactics to attract them for a longer look; from free scoops of ice cream to comfortable chairs to lounge in, to free pineapple decal grinders, there were many new faces and brands poised to make a lasting impression.
These were a few of the highlights:
Alberta’s Fire + Flower stopped visitors at the door with an invitation to suss out their wall of “LP agnostic” flower strains. Each hexagonal card was named after a strain they offered in their Alberta dispensaries with the name of the parent LP, price, terpene profile, and THC / CBD content.
Canntrust’s booth impressed guests with 3D strain prints on iPads and VR goggles that offered up a virtual grow-op tour. By putting on the goggles, guests entered a virtual tour of their Niagara based greenhouse - which coincidentally made headlines on Bloomberg news this week. Complaints stirred by local residents are raising an issue with the LP’s expansion plans due to its wafting terpene profile filling the air in the adjacent town of Pelham. Read the full story on Bloomberg News.
Aurora Hosted a stage where the public was entertained with programming that ranged from X to a joint rolling competition. Just after Lift + Co Aurora made the news for its pending acquisition deal of Whistler Medical for $175 million US. The 2nd largest global cannabis brand parents 16 companies worldwide.
Another well known LP, Cronos, surprised the crowds with a new brand concept for the rec market called Spinach. That’s right: plastered with the slogan “farm to bowl,” the installation could not go unnoticed, with its seeming adult playground of gak green bean bag chairs and 4.20 dollar bills blasting in an air machine. Brand launches like Spinach’s display the largely uncertain territory about consumer adoption and staying power in the new legal space.
Hexo places great emphasis on their “smoke free revolution,” which introduces the concept of microdosing oil, through products such as their sublingual spray. Presentations around the popularity we see in the US legal states around vaping begged questions of forthcoming vaping regulations and the safety of consuming cannabis in this new popular way.
San Rafael boasted a smaller, more intimate set up with nostalgic branding and a retro living room style setup which wooed guests to take a pause and get to know them.
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GTA based Pineapple Express gave away free pineapple grinders and pipes in exchange for email addresses, bringing awareness to their delivery service for medical marijuana patients.
Edibles were not yet introduced at this event but companies cleverly positioned products to align them with items that conjure up the sense of what’s to come. BC-based LP Indiva gave away non-THC chocolates, while another auxiliary company showcased DIY gummy mixes. On the Aurora Demo Stage, Chef Cody Lindsay of The Wellness Soldier demonstrated basics of making your own edibles and how to get comfortable with calculating THC conversions.
One of the show’s innovative tech highlights was a small, compact machine that can determine the THC + CBD levels in a bud of flower from BioFloral. Visitors watched in amazement as their Bluetooth operated machine performed strain testing in the vein of the easy-bake oven. The team, who had flown 18 hours from Israel to be at the expo, explained that the size of the show gave guests an intimate acquaintance to their business than the MJ Biz Con in Vegas last fall, where over 1100 vendors filled a massive conference center. By contrast, Lift + Co was a nice steady flow of guests but not an overcrowded bazaar. A few beautiful January days for the west coast may be to blame for a quieter than expected consumer turnout after a packed house on Friday’s industry-only day, but after selling 5 of their machines at a $5,000 price point on Saturday alone, the team had no complaints about the turn-out.
There were a plethora of auxiliary companies who service cannabis industry brands. Whether it be for lights, fertilizers or rolling paper manufacturing, we are starting to see a time where innovation is solving many of the pain points of the legacy industry which is the new buzzword for businesses who were around long before the advent of legalization.
Distributors who supply dispensaries with vape products like PAX or Kandy pens made their mark with booths that drew you in and allowed you to ask any questions that may arise about smoke free options. Learning the difference between the array of devices available on the market allowed consumers to have fun shopping at the show, even though flower or oils were not available for purchase.
At the Lift x Leaf Forward Pitch Competition, four cannabis startups were given the opportunity to present a five-minute pitch to a panel of expert judges. Blade Filters Inc. from Markham, Ont. took home the top prize for their sleek elevator pitch selling their carbon filters with replaceable cartridges.
The After parties
If you wondered if the Lift + Co after parties were ‘lit,’ the answer is yes!
B.C. Based Choom, known for its iconic hang loose fist raise, hosted an after party with secret guest Jurassic 5. A sea of west coasters with wide brimmed hats filled the scene, as fans sang out classic tracks with rosey choom-lit glow.
Tokyo Smoke also hosted an unadvertised after party in Vancouver’s Chinatown, with a secret password to get on the invite list.
There were also several events planned concurrently in Vancouver during the Lift Expo, such as Van der Pop’s Women & Weed panel-style brunch summit at the Museum of Vancouver. The served up thought-provoking cannabis conversations with the foremost women in the industry along with a build-your-own mimosa bar, nail art bar, and immersive art installations.
Lifford Cannabis Solutions hosted a secret session on Sunday to close down the Lift & Co. Expo called “Lift Après.” The exclusive event featured Token Bitters infused tea cocktails and mocktails by Lifford BC, featuring premium accessories paired with sun-grown unique cultivars from Weedmd.
What’s the Buzz on Twitter post-Lift Expo?
Mark your Calendar
Had major Lift + Co fomo? The next expo takes place in Toronto in from June 6-9. See you there!