July 30th Conference
On July 30th, The Cannabis Society hosted an invite-only Cannabis Conference, with silver sponsors Jagger and Indiva, and community sponsors Lift&Co and Bennett Jones, who welcomed us into their wonderful space.
The Cannabis Society is on a mission to create the biggest Cannabis Deal Making Community in Canada. Together, industry experts, entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers aim to collaborate in unison to achieve just that.
Bill Hennessey of The Blockchain Society took the opportunity to welcome all guests and speakers to the conference. “We market people. In the cannabis industry, there is a lot of grey area as to what you can and can’t do as far as marketing. At The Cannabis Society, we’re really trying to change the perception of cannabis.”
Deloitte were the first to be introduced to the stage, giving a presentation on their 2.0 Cannabis Report. Representing Deloitte, was none other than Jennifer Lee, who is the National Retail Leader & Consumer Analytics Practice Leader, and leads the Cannabis sector. In the report’s key insights, it states that the world is watching as Canada steps into the spotlight and becomes the first developed country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis worldwide. As far as numbers are involved, the report states that Canada has a $7.2 Billion cannabis market size, with a volume of 63% of recreational cannabis that will convert to legal channels. Jennifer stated “when edibles enter the market, we’re expecting the market to really expand. As soon as it gets into the edible format, the stigma disappears.”
Unfortunately, despite an explosion of interest in recent years, edible products won’t hit the shelves for at least another year. Deloitte’s report highlights that 60% of likely cannabis consumers are expected to consume an edible product, and 18% of overall intake after legalization will be accounted for by edibles. As far as the drivers of consumption, Deloitte concludes that two-thirds of current consumers use cannabis to help them relax, sleep, or reduce stress and anxiety. Many people see it largely as a replacement for alcohol consumption, which is something that many people even in the corporate world will and could resort to. There is a big market for cannabis, which will only continue to expand post-legalization. Jennifer proclaimed that “those who understand retail and the cannabis industry will win in this space.”
Next to take the stage was Indiva’s very own co-founder and CEO, Niel Marotta, whom Bill regards as “a company to watch very closely”. Indiva’s motto is “our roots run deep”, and fittingly so. “A big part of our brand is authenticity. Our focus is on quality, and on products.” Niel stated, before showing attendees their all-star lineup of products. At Indiva, they are set to produce 3,000 kilos of high quality product, with state of the art devices to pair with. Included in their roster of products is pens, oils, pre-rolls, and some groundbreaking edibles. In partnership with Bhang, Indiva collaborated in creating the most awarded line of cannabis chocolate bars available in the world, developed by a master chocolatier who happens to have over 25 years of chocolate-making experience. A notable product is the Bhang Pure Cannabis oil cartridges, containing only the finest cannabis extracts, and are free of additives, glycols, and glycerins. To add to the fun, Bhang has also released a zero calorie gum, and a delicious mouth spray, for those looking to consume cannabis in alternative ways. Indiva has set the bar high on the horizon of cannabis legalization, with products that look to cater to all ages, and all ways of indulgence.
Guests were then treated to a Product Innovation Panel, with representatives from Green Tank Technologies, Lift & Co, Jagger, and Indiva, discussing the marketability and retail aspect of the cannabis industry. Representing Green Tank Technologies was Corey Koffler, the co-founder and COO of the leading manufacturer of vaporization hardware, designed specifically for the cannabis industry. Nick Pateras, the VP of Growth, oversees the Product Marketing, Events, & Retail Solution Teams at Lift&Co, Canada’s leading cannabis media and technology platfor. Their mission is to empower better cannabis decisions by bridging the informational gap between buyers and sellers. Jason Berard, the founder and president of Jagger, an international talent acquisition consultancy, facilitated the discussion, and challenged the minds of the fellow speakers on the panel. Rounding it out was NielMarotta of Indiva, one of the event’s proud silver sponsors.
When asked what consumers are most looking for as far as retail experience in the cannabis industry, a knowledgeable staff was the general consensus. Knowledgeable “budtenders” are key factors in driving sales, providing customers with knowledge and caution, as well as providing an efficient and easy shopping experience. Much like a smart serve, governments will provide training for the staff, ensuring that employees are as familiar and knowledgeable with the products as possible. Fortunately, the Canadian market is arguably number one currently, so it’s safe to say that the respective brand representatives on site are feeling optimistic post-legalization. Corey Koffler, however, stressed the importance of “innovation and staying ahead of the curb, and seperating yourself from competing brands.” When it comes to edibles, it has been known to be a “commitment” as far as effect and duration, but companies like these are looking to crack and revolutionize consumption, having it hit you faster, and leaving your system quicker, too. For Indiva, Nielmade it clear that “if there’s a way to consume cannabis that you can imagine, there’s a product out there for you.” With many competing brands releasing similar products, it’s vital to separate yourselves and be innovative, in a market that will likely see industry giants bumping heads.
Nick Pateras of Lift&Co took to the stage for a presentation of his own, getting right into the matter, stating “Cannabis legalization is spreading fast” around the world, and is projected to continue spreading even further in the next two years. “We’ve got a massive short term opportunity as Canadian companies, but over time will turn into long-term pressure.” However, cultivation by equatorial countries will drive downward pressure on prices globally. Brands will slowly begin to step into the foreground, with emergence of big brands as the faces of the industry. Nick mentioned that brands will be used as a safety net for innovation, with it benefiting the consumer and allowing the industry to thrive. “We are about to embark on the greatest social experiment this country has ever seen, and it’s going to be an adventure.”
The next presentation highlighted the art of investing in cannabis, and how to profit from the industry, led by Raintree’s Matt Simpson, who oversees all aspects of their business in Ontario. Raintree works with financial professionals who are looking to provide their clients with investment alternatives, including private equity and real estate. Matt has advised private business on financing for over 15 years, and is hoping to help grow the cannabis industry. For anyone in need of a private wealth advisor, connecting with Matt Simpson would certainly be a step in the right direction.
The stage was now set for WeedMD’s medical director, Dr. Jonas Vanderzwan, who has helped treat over a thousand patients, and has educated health providers globally. Having been a physician with over 15 years of primary care experience, he is now recognized in Southwestern Ontario as a cannabis educator and specialist, actively providing medical staff with guidance on cannabis prescribing protocols, cannabis pharmacology, physiological effects, and assessment tools.
Jonas presented us with statistics in the current medical cannabis market. Among his findings, were that 43% of adults believe cannabis should be sold in pharmacies, with an average cost of $573 per patient monthly. “The stigma is beginning to lift,” he said, with people becoming more aware about cannabis and its effects. Insiders see a shift in attitudes as it hits the mainstream market. “Ultimately, I think the biggest market will be in young professionals.” As far as the biggest driver of use, chronic pain is the most common indication worldwide. “Cannabis is a medicine. It’s a good option, it’s a safe option” he said. Currently, he is assisting with the establishment of an interest group at the Ontario Medical Association, with the purpose of continued advocacy and promotion of cannabis.
The Fireside Chat was next on the agenda, with Rubson Ho, the Chief Crowd Pleaser of CrowdMatrix, who was joined by Bob Gilson, the founder and CEO of Cadence Agricultural Systems Inc. Crowdmatrix is a regulated, online investment portal that makes it easy for individuals to access alternative investments which were traditionally only available to professional investors. Cadence Agriculture Systems Inc, or CASi, produces modular grow systems, and is launching its micro-climate grow chambers this year. The company is able to consistently and economically produce high-quality cannabis for medical, oil, high-end recreational, and research markets. Their full spectrum lights, HVAC, and data collection system is all designed for micro-environment adaptability, control, and rapid deployment. Essentially, they are providing high growth opportunities with low cost, helping growers grow more consistently, as well as much cheaper. “Every great band has roadies--we’re the roadies, and our growers are the performers.”
Last but not least, here to “drive home the extraction process”, was Mario Naric, the co-founder of Motif Cannabis LTD. Mario is a process engineer who has become deeply interested in the art of cannabis extraction, obtaining extensive extraction experience through U.S. collaborations, as well as holding several consulting roles and co-founding an extraction LP start-up. Furthermore, he has also worked as a business development lead for a leading vape hardware manufacturer.
When it comes to extraction, the opportunities are enticing. There is a $2 billion projection in the concentrates and derivatives market by 2020, with a projected 12 million Canadian cannabis consumers. There is set to be over 110 licensed producer cultivators, and over 140,000 acres of hemp cultivation, so needless to say, the opportunities are grand. Naturally, people will want to consume more compact products, straying away from the use of grinders, bongs, and other methods. Motif’s mission is to provide industry leading brands with the highest quality concentrates and toll processing options. They have a technically sound team of engineers and scientists, with extraction experience and a passion for quality and consistency.
With an all star cast of leading cannabis experts on site, the post-legalization success seems to be in the very best of hands, looking to maintain the prestige of being one of the leading nations in the cannabis industry.