Billed as the largest cannabis conference in Canada since legalization, the O’Cannabiz Conference and Expo descended on Vancouver this week, as more than 100 industry leaders came together to address historic and emerging issues in the industry.
The questions and conversations were informative, and at times lively, as attendees discussed topics such as quality assurance, border laws, experiential marketing, excise taxes and impacts on hospitality and tourism, to name a few.
The conference’s keynote speaker was actor and former TV personality Montel Williams, who highlighted his patient story and how he came to become a cannabis activist nearly two decades ago due to his personal battle with multiple sclerosis. He stressed how important it is for the industry to continue to meet the needs of patients like him, even as the recreational market increases.
The event kicked off with a one-day forum ‘Cannabis Meets Healthcare’, specifically designed for the medical community looking to expand their knowledge and network. Experts with experience in healthcare, education, pain management, addiction medicine and pharmacology offered insights and advice when it comes to issues such as overcoming the stigma of medical cannabis, cannabis as a tool to treat the opioid crisis, and workplace policies. The conversations also delved into new opportunities in community-based therapeutics research and why Baby Boomers are the fastest growing demographic of medical cannabis users.
The following two days were jam packed with power panels on a variety of hot topics in the cannabis industry. Here are a few highlights from the event:
“Consumers want certainty and consistency when it comes to cannabis quality.” - That was the message from our founder Barinder Rasode who participated on a panel discussing mandatory testing limits, quality assurance and control. The group delved into how companies can build trust and respect through quality control, and that industry self-regulation is good for both consumers and companies.
“Legalization has lifted the stigma in our communities and has the potential to generate significant economic opportunities.” – the Indigenous Opportunity panel discussed entrepreneurship and how cannabis is bridging gaps and acting as a mechanism for reconciliation. The group explained how a lack of capital does not mean there’s a lack of value, and that companies looking to partner with Indigenous groups should understand that they bring generations of knowledge to the table.
There were also a number of panels highlighting the need to unlock the science of the plant and harness new information and data to help improve patient care and outcomes. The consensus is that we have so much more to discover about cannabis and we must to look to new technology and research to understand its full potential.
And, nothing gets the room more charged up than a debate about extraction techniques and formulation. Health concerns, social stigma and shifting consumer preference are driving a surge in demand for the production of differentiated cannabis consumables. Extraction technology, and how extracts are formulated, play a key role in the development of products that appeal to the next generation of cannabis consumer. So, what was the consensus from the panel? Every method has its own risks and benefits.
The O’Cannabiz Conference & Expo will return April 25 – 27 in Toronto. Stay tuned for a full conference schedule and panel program!