Oct. 17 marked a milestone for cannabis activists and advocates after almost a century of prohibition, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
Marking the first cannabis consumer trade show in Canada since legalization, industry business leaders, experts, investors, entrepreneurs and pioneers gathered at the Lift & Co. Cannabis Business Conference 2019 in downtown Vancouver on Jan. 10. The annual event draws hundreds of people for a day of presentations and panel discussions around leadership, branding and marketing, investing and finance, regulatory hurdles, and what’s next for Canada as a player in the global industry.
As CannTrust CEO Peter Aceto told the audience, “We’re just in the first inning.”
Here are five pointers from the business conference:
With progress comes disruption: Just as Ontario’s 2018 election completely upended the province’s cannabis retail plan, a change in guard could mean a different regulatory environment — especially for cannabis edibles and drinks.
Marketing creativity will evolve: Even with a host of restrictions, there’s still room for creativity. HEXO‘s “Never Jaded” campaign, for example, included 50 days of activities including pop-up shops, concerts, movie screenings, celebrity dinners and art exhibits.
- Investing will grow in 2019:Penny Green, president and CEO of The Yield Growth Corp., is already seeing an appetite from Americans to buy Canadian cannabis stocks as recreational legalization creeps across individual states.”It’s still not mainstream in the U.S., and their market is huge. In 2019 I’m expecting to see more investors coming to the table as they open up and become more aware to the potential of cananbis.”
The next big ideas are here: A major blind spot in the cannabis industry is the lack of diversity — and Shanita Penny wants businesses to know it affects their bottom line. “Consumers pay attention to who you’re working with. While you’re committed to making money, you also should be committed to doing good.”
- The industry needs to define its values:Hilary Black, who founded the B.C. Compassion Club Society in 1997, encouraged companies to not alienate the skills and knowledge of cannabis pioneers. Black, now director of patient education and advocacy for Canopy Growth, said licensed producers should instead shift the corporate culture to accommodate their expertise.”Know your cannabis history, who the people are who took on risks, broke laws and sacrificed a lot,” she said.
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