Bluntly Speaking, The Lift Cannabis Expo Was “Bought and Paid-for This Year” by Corporate High Rollers.

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Unfortunately this was and is the truth. The Lift Cannabis Expo is a consumer trade-show geared towards empowering the general public to make more informed decisions related to using cannabis. The Lift corporation started these trade-shows in 2014. This was its 3rd year to be held in downtown Toronto.

The vibe was much different last year and was all about embracing and integrating the cannabis culture into every day life.

Last year, we saw equal representation between the small “Mom and Pop” dispensary-style compassion clubs and the government sanctioned Licensed Producers. They both stood shoulder to shoulder and had equal stage presentation time, to share information with the public.

This year, the take home message was clear…this is a billion dollar medical industry…cannabis isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a medication and if you have deep pockets, you will “pay to play” if you hope to run with the big dogs…legally.

This comes as no shock to anyone who has been following the shenanigans within the Canadian Cannabis Industry over the last 2 years. Our government has set the wheels in motion to achieve the monopoly on the sale of cannabis as the country transitions into full legalization for their “go to date” of July 1st, 2018.

TAX, REGULATE and RESTRICT ACCESS is the current Liberal government’s mandate, with proposed revenue generating fees at each level of their involvement.

I saw only a handful of small businesses that had booth space…even the Vape Lounge (which last year was packed and was so “free” that you could use your own equipment) was corporately sponsored by several big vapourizer companies. The actual Vape Lounge space looked like an Apple Store. It had its own security, was carding people for age of majority (25) and was supervised, with company reps who would assist with “vapourizer handling”.

It didn’t provide a warm and fuzzy feeling…like an inviting coffee shop in Amsterdam would have. There was no encouragement to actually linger and take your time.

Instead, it felt snooty and sterile with an underlying tone of high pressure sales. I did not find the space to be inviting. @knarly327 and I took our turn being ushered passed the security guards and through a turn-style to enter the lounge. Once we experienced the cold grip of retail at every turn, we left. I didn’t even snap a photo because I felt like my gear would be confiscated.

“It was too bad,” we thought.

After this, we finally made it through booth after booth of “For Profit” cannabis resource centres. (This felt like you were passing through a gauntlet of carrots dangling from strings, as one company tried to out-do their competitors with the most attractive sign-up bonuses.)

These cannabis consulting companies put their customers in touch with medical doctors who will become their “cannabis doctors”and will sign and grant  medical cannabis licenses. Then, their doctors will issue a medical cannabis license and assign the customer to THEIR preferred Licensed Producer of choice, not the customer’s.  All of this, for a princely sum, of course. Plus, no mention of the kick-backs that they will receive from the LPs who they have back-room deals with and why no choice of LP is given to the customer… I might add.

We quickly realized that there wasn’t much difference between this type of  high pressured sales tactics and the tactics used to sell Time Shares.  It had a very similar feel and vibe.

Along the way, we did see some very cool new gadgetry designed for “a growing industry” and meant for small amounts of gardening.

This is an automatic seed starter. It was unclear if it was a proto-type. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a company name on it or anyone around who I could ask for more details. 🙁

This little cabinet is called a Grobo. It’s marketed as a fool-proof hydroponic grow box. This is what it looks like in its “closed, nothing to see here, I’m just furniture” position.

Electronically, it keeps the plant in both the correct amount of lightness and darkness for each stage of its life-cycle. Artistically, it also acts like a piece of furniture that you can use for soft ambiance lighting in your living room. (The light it throws off into your room can be selected by intensity and colour.)

Here it is lit, with the plant visible on the inside.

It’s a self-contained system for those who want to grow a single plant. It does all the watering, light adjusting and feeding for you, once all the reservoirs are filled up with the appropriate liquids.

When I asked the Grobo rep, he confirmed that you would have to be somewhat selective in what seed you chose to grow. Smaller strains are going to do better in the unit than a strain that normally gets to be over 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, for example. He also said that 2 ounces of flower produced from a plant grown in one of these Grobos is the average yield achieved.

This unit retails for approximately $1600 USD.

I was also quite taken with the smaller automatic bud trimmers.

This particular one retails for just over $2,000 USD and is a table-top version.

I also talked to some really cool people this year…and I couldn’t help myself, I shared the Steemit opportunity with a few of them.

Like, Michael Mason. He’s a Cannabis coach too.

He helps people to get dignified access to cannabis, teaches skills like how to select strains and how to dose properly. He also runs educational workshops and teaches people how to cook with cannabis. I had a great discussion with Michael and among a slew of other things,  I learned that he has been growing his hair for 13 years!

Michael works for a family run company called Phyto Medical. For more info, you can view the website at: www.phytomedical.ca

They charge a yearly membership fee and then, run all kinds of free seminars and programs for their members to access through their resource centre.

I also bumped into Dana Larsen and got to chat with him for a few minutes.

Dana is well known in the Canadian Cannabis Culture. He’s the Founding Director of the Vancouver Dispensary Society, he’s an author and he was at the Expo, promoting his “Overgrow Canada” campaign which he launched last year.

The goal of the campaign is to bring awareness to the fact that the cannabis industry in Canada should be free and fair. Last year Dana gave away 2 million free cannabis seeds to people across the country who promised to plant them in public spaces. This year he has given away 5 million seeds!

(Although we couldn’t vape in memory of Franco Loja, I had taken some Platinum Banana Kush tincture. By that point, I was having a little bit of difficulty holding my eyes open when the picture with Dana was being taken.)

One more really cool thing was that we were able to pick-up this trade magazine…

It was fantastic to see such an incredible cover shot of Franco doing what he loved to do.

I’m not sure how he felt about corporate involvement in the cannabis culture, but this magazine cover was a beautiful tribute to a fine human being.

I welcome your comments and I invite you to follow me on my journey.

~ Rebecca Ryan

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