Opinion Editorial by Eric Vengroff, Financial Analyst, Cannabis Daily

It wasn’t hard to find the Lift & Co. Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre – just follow your nose.

Thanks to the Ford government’s inclusion of cannabis into existing Smoke-Free Ontario regulations, clouds of cannabis smoke and the familiar aroma of same wafted down Front street leading to the north entrance of the MTCC.

Many of the patrons walking to the expo were carrying some dank cargo in the pockets and purses.   There were clearly some canna-enthusiasts in crowds waiting to register and the line-ups were deep.

The buzz and the nature of the show-goers hearkened back to the ‘good-old-days’ of the Treating Yourself Expo ten years ago. 

For those who’ve followed cannabis developments in Canada and are old enough to remember attending, the TY Expo took place at a time well after access to cannabis for medical use was permitted in 2001, but well before recreational legalization last October.    It held court at the MTCC years before the Lift & Co. Expo, and in very different way.   Tales from the Vape Lounge and the Cannabis Cup are epic, but that’s for another time.

The Expo represented the last leg of what was an entire week of seminars, events and activities dubbed Canadian Cannabis Week by the organizers.  In contrast to the O’Cannabiz Conference & Expo, which took place at the International Centre six weeks earlier it was evident that it was this show that the major cannabis growers and product designers preferred to deploy their marketing dollars.

Although the number of exhibitors didn’t change materially (270 vs. the 272 listed last year) and the number of O’Cannabiz Exhibitors grew by over 10% to over 200, it was the composition, size and scale of the major exhibitors that truly distinguished this show from O’Cannabiz.

Although not easy to discern from the photos, exhibitors on average had bigger booths and in some cases much more elaborate displays at the Lift & Co. show, in the opinion of the writer.

O’Cannabiz and Lift Expo -photo credit (top) Jonathan Keim (bottom) Andrew Shaw

Having worked on the marketing campaign for O’Cannabiz, I was curious as to why some Lift exhibitors who were clearly present at the latter show were not at the former.   Although not exhaustive, my survey of exhibitors all pointed to the same issues – money and human bandwidth.

Talk about the money – Canadian cannabis companies have been cutting well back on their marketing budgets for a number of reasons, be it terror over potential negative implications of a Health Canada violation, or lack of urgency to market product if the meagre quantities available for sale are already selling out across Canada.

Talk about human capital – many of the organizations in or servicing the cannabis industry are startups or thinly-staffed greenfield line extensions of other businesses.  Capital, both the physical and human, is at a premium in many of these organizations and can’t be spread around in too many directions.

If you, as a line manager, has ever had to attend a trade show as an exhibitor or sponsor you already know this intuitively; it costs a lot more than the floor space rental to exhibit.  Booth acquisition or rental, transportation, hotels, meals and entertainment, collateral materials and so on cost time, human resources and money -often lots more than expected.

Given the close timing between these two shows, it appears that most LP’s and other large exhibitors chose Lift.

Perhaps it’s the venue, perhaps the nature of the attendees or the nature of the organizers.  The time of year doesn’t appear to necessarily be a factor as both events were well attended relative to their sizes.

In speaking to a sample of attendees and observers, both Lift and O’Cannabiz generally fail to engage consumers.

Part of the problem may be legal restrictions regarding what can and will be said to a stranger in an unregulated environment.  Part may be due to the fact that consumers would have little use for a commercial trimmer or a fan with the diameter of a tractor wheel.  Consumers appear to be responding by not attending in large numbers.   Considering the buzz of activity on the Friday, the decrease in foot traffic was particularly noticeable at Lift.  The weekend also was the first temperate and sunny sequence of days in what has been a very wet spring in the Toronto area.

The trade show season typically slows down for the summer and picks up again in the fall.  In September, MJBizCon Int’l rolls in Toronto, a week before the Grow Up Conference in Niagara Falls.    The organizers of these shows don’t consult with one another regarding upcoming dates and it likely wouldn’t matter if they did.  As potential conference attendee, the challenge may be in understanding the relative merits of one show versus the next.  Any exhibitor with the prospect of doing both of those shows better get their credit cards and running shoes warmed up.

In all cases, today’s cannabis entrepreneur would be well advised to exhibit regularly. Here’s some links to each show we follow, and how you can sign up as an exhibitor or attendee.

We recommend you participate with them all if you want to be successful in the climate of C-45 advertising restrictions. 


Lift & Co. – https://liftexpo.ca/

O’Cannabiz – https://ocannabiz.com/

The Growth Op – https://www.thegrowthop.com/

MJBiz Con – https://mjbizconference.com/

Cannabis Drinks Expo – https://cannabisdrinksexpo.com/

ACExpo – https://www.acexpo.ca/

CannaCon – https://cannacon.org/

TY Expo – http://treatingyourself.com/expo/

Spannabis – http://spannabis.com

Cannabis Cup – https://www.cannabiscup.com/

HempFest Cannabis Expo – http://www.hempfestcanada.com/

Cannabis Conference – https://www.cannabisconference.com/

CannaGrow Expo – https://cannagrowexpo.com/

NECANN – https://www.necann.com/

Ann Arbor Hash Bash – http://hashbash.com/

NCIA Cannabis Business Summit & Expo – https://www.cannabisbusinesssummit.com/

Did we miss a convention, expo or tradeshow?

Let us know at editor@cannabisdaily.today 




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