Lift Expo a snapshot of the future of an industry
“And that, I think, was the handle – that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting – on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.” –Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Staring out a third-floor window from the Metro Toronto Convention Centre over the weekend, you could almost see the high-water mark – that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back on decades of prohibition.
A veritable example of a young and exciting industry in motion, the Lift Expo served as a snapshot of sorts for where this industry’s been, and where it’s going next. Though elements of irreverence and immaturity remained present on the fringes of the event, the primary themes of innovation, cooperation and sophistication ruled the two-day expo.
While watching cannabis evolve from a culture to an industry has at times been a frustrating experience, the growing pains afflicting this new space have unquestionably started to subside. Over the course of the expo, a palpable sense of respect and cooperation settled over a community recently characterized by resentment and confusion.
The positive vibes that defined the weekend’s event from the outset were temporarily overshadowed Friday by the crackdown on many of Toronto’s unlicensed pot shops. In all, 40 dispensaries were raided and 186 drug-related charges laid in the city, where storefronts had been proliferating unhindered since the October election.
Tyler Sookochoff, founder and CEO of Lift, says that in light of the fallout from “Project Claudia,” the expo was well timed. Rather than consider cancelling the event, he believes the crackdown that took place in the week leading up to the expo helped to underscore the importance of constructive dialogue with all sides of the current cannabis conversation.
“It was certainly interesting what unfolded here in the city the other day. I think it made our event all the more important and well timed,” he said. “I think having a conversation about what happened, about what the future holds for the different participants in the cannabis space, is absolutely needed. There’s a lot of entrenched positions and not a lot of communication.”
By early Saturday, that silence was replaced in short order by a proverbial smile. The entire crowd, it seemed, got along throughout the weekend, with everyone from activists to entrepreneurs stopping by to chat on camera with our team (we’ll be rolling those interviews out throughout the month!).
As title sponsor of the event, Tweed had a large lounge-like booth that welcomed thousands of people – some eager to learn about the company and meet our team face-to-face, some looking to find out about the MMPR, and others simply hoping to rest on the couches in the lounge or score a free cappuccino, which we served up by the hundreds. At one point, the lineup to get personalized Tweed jars stretched out to the escalator!
More than simply a singular industry success story, the Lift Expo marked the start of a beautiful relationship between cannabis and the legal marketplace. As a case study into what’s possible when all concerned parties cooperate, the event served as a prime example of just how exciting this new Canadian industry stands to be.
Here’s to Future Growth!
Photo credit: Tee Onek, FTF Photography
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