Thousands of bright minds in the cannabis industry were busy swapping ideas and pitching business models Friday.
The second day of the The Lift & Co. Corp. (TSXV: LIFT and OTCQB: LFCOF) cannabis expo brought throngs of presenters, exhibitors and important people in the weed industry to the Vancouver Convention Centre to network and explore the expo’s 280 booths.
From how to grow weed at home when you don’t have a green thumb to air-tight 100 per cent recyclable cannabis packaging, the expo floor packed a lot of cannabis innovation and surprising success stories into a single convention centre. For those who weren’t able to attend, here’s Mugglehead’s round up of the brightest and best expo had to offer.
Plant a seed and get a weed — Iobionics Automatic Home Grow System
The Bionics Automatic Grow System is an appliance that takes growing seriously so users don’t have to, director Marshal Taffe explained.
The appliance takes up as much space as a fridge but uses half the power and allows for simple home cultivation — no green thumb required.
All users need to do is plug into an outlet, select what plant they’re growing on the app and let the appliance do the rest. Well, almost all the rest.
The appliance will ensure the plant gets the right amount of water, light, humidity and temperature to grow perfectly, Taffe said.
It’s not limited to cannabis and people can grow just about anything they desire, including mushrooms, herbs, flowers, garlic and ginseng too, he added.
The app will tailor the growing conditions to the plant, and will make small adjustments depending if people are growing sativa, indica or hybrid plants, Taffe said. And more strain-specific growing techniques are being added all the time.
The idea came from living in a condo in Toronto, where balcony, rooftop or community gardening is impossible or unavailable, he said.
Now people can grow indoors year-round, Taffe said, adding the front glass can be fogged at the touch of a button to hide whatever is growing inside from nosy neighbours.
Units sell from US$2,300 to US$2,700 and are available to ship out from Toronto in the spring, Taffe said.
Capturing freshness by canning cannabis — Nitrotin
Producers package weed in plastic because it’s cheap — but it also dries out the cannabis, Nitrotin co-founder and CEO Eric Marciniak said.
He’s found a better way that the tuna industry has been wise to for years: canning.
Dried cannabis flower is placed in the can alongside a small drop of liquid nitrogen, which pushes oxygen out of the jar and allows the product to be sealed in an oxygen-free environment. No oxygen means no nasty growth, Marciniak said.
Because tin, unlike plastic, is non-permeable the weed also won’t dry out over time. The packaging is also 100 per cent recyclable, Marciniak said.
The packaging is certified child resistant and senior friendly, he said, and can be opened similar to an Advil bottle and a soda can.
The canning machine costs between $100,000 to $170,000 but can also be leased or rented, Marciniak added.
Using rock to grow weed — Grodan
The Grodan rockwool block has been around for 50 years, Grodan Canadian account manager Brett Cherniack said. The block, made in a similar way to cotton candy but using basalt rock instead of sugar, makes the ideal home for cannabis plants.
Designed originally for vegetable growing, the company has seen “triple digit percentage growth” in sales since the cannabis market opened up, Cherniack said.
Rockwool simplifies the growing process by offering each plant the same base and that simplification compounds for larger licensed producers, he added.
When LPs or home cultivators are done with the product they can tear it up and stick it in the compost, Cherniack said. It’s even safe to pop in your mouth — though he doesn’t recommend you do that.
No weed allowed at the weed conference and other signs prohibition didn’t end — Jodie Emery
Amid the flashing screens filled with looming weed plants and four-foot tall model cannabis nugs, longtime cannabis activist Jodie Emery shrugs her shoulders.
“I find it very disappointing that cannabis itself is not allowed here,” Emery said. “At past cannabis conferences … cannabis was present, celebrated and featured because that is what it was all about. I find it very sterile in ways because the plant itself is not allowed to be here, but that’s just another part of prohibition that still exists.”
When cannabis was legalized prohibition didn’t end, Emery said. That is apparent in the prohibitive regulations and strict policies that prevent the growth and success of a lot of the companies here, she added.
“I’d like to see improvements for everybody’s benefit — not just the select few who can afford to meet the requirements of the regulatory hurdles which most people can’t afford to pay for,” she said.
Still, it’s good to see the industry grow and know that cannabis culture, and all of its advocates and activists, helped make this all happen, she added with a smile.
The display company the cannabis industry adopted — Eddie’s Hang Up Display, Ltd.
Eddie’s Hang Up Display, Ltd. was started by Allen Gaerber’s mother in 1978. Today it’s run by Gaerber and his two brothers — and caters to a completely new audience.
The company builds displays for retail stores and boasts an impressive clientele, with names like Lululemon, Indochino, London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart and Holt Renfrew as customers Gaerber said.
Five years ago the company saw an unprecedented boost in sales which confused Gaerber at first.
Turns out grey market cannabis stores liked Eddie’s style — and that meant the company was in high demand. As retailers transitioned to the legal market they continued to use Eddie’s displays, which today can be found in Spiritleaf and Fire & Flower retail locations across the country.
The company’s most popular display is the aroma orb (pictured), which is easy to clean and allows customers to see and smell the cannabis.
Lift & Co. expo day three — what’s left?
Saturday is the final day of the Lift & Co. expo and is designed for consumers rather than businesses. Attendees can buy tickets for $10 online or at the Vancouver Convention Centre and explore the exhibition booths, as well as take in talks from Sundial Growers Inc. (NYSE: SNDL), Pure Sunfarms and more.
Don’t miss the joint rolling competition to wrap up expo.