Canada’s signature cannabis event filled the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTTC) like a puff of smoke with thousands of 420 fans over four hazy days in mid-November.
As the legal cannabis industry moves into its fourth year, the annual Lift & Co. event shows it has gone anywhere but to pot. Even Covid-19 couldn’t keep industry leaders, innovators, regulars, disruptors, and consumers away between Nov. 18-21. “This attendance exceeded our expectations and corresponds with the booming cannabis market in Ontario and across Canada,” says Lift & Co.’s director of content, Barry Smith. He added Ontario’s cannabis market is worth $180 million as of July 2021. More than 10,000 attendees showed up to toke and talk shop at what felt more like a family reunion than a gigantic tradeshow.
What’s New in 2022 for the Growing Cannabis Industry
The health and wellness cannabinoid, CBD, will give THC a run for its money.
“Research and consumer interest in next-generation CBD products are expanding and new markets are taking notice,” says. “It looks like CBD is going to usher in cannabis 3.0.”
Besides an interest in next-generation CBD products, a few other themes popped up at the exhibition.
Amongst the 250 exhibitors showcasing everything from eco-friendly fertilizers to cannabis-infused beauty products, and in between talks on psychedelics, food and cannabis pairing, and a spotlight on U.S. cannabis legalization, Smith noticed a trend in how companies are approaching growth or stability. “While there continues to be significant consolidation on the one hand, particularly for the larger players, there are very evident strategies for plain and simple business stability and sustainability,” he says. Smith pointed out that consumers will see the movement to simplify amongst more independent and entrepreneurial-spirited businesses like craft cannabis producers.
Packaging Regulations are not Quite Green, but Getting There
Cannabis containers appear to be taking on more feminine hues. While the trade show was sprinkled with pink and purple jars and baggies, one color remains far from packaging: green.
Besides a long list of rules, the federal government requires retailers to push multiple layers of plastic out their door with most cannabis products. While the measure is in place to keep cannabis from getting into the wrong hands, many of those protective layers are plastic: cheap to purchase, light to ship, and bad for the planet.
“Packaging will always be determined by public health and safety regulations,” explains Smith, adding if the cannabis industry shows it can move more consumers out of the black market and into the legal market, then maybe a few more layers can come off.
“Cannabis industry marketing leaders believe they can support this conversion if regulations allow a broader scope of marketing techniques.”
If new data from the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) is any sign, then the industry is on track to chill out. According to the OCS, legal cannabis sales overtook the black market for the first time between July and September 2021. During that time, 54.2 percent of the cannabis purchased in the province came from a legal retailer.
As Canada’s meeting place for cannabis movers and shakers, Lift & Co.’s expo continues to grow like a weed and is the place to be, no matter where your interest in the plant lies. Based in Toronto, Lift & Co. is a collection of cannabis experts, motivators, and planners who aim to deliver world-class education for the cannabis industry.
The next not-to-be-missed trade show takes place May 12-15, 2022, at the MTCC.