Recently, my coworker Nikki Jackson and I decided to crash Lift Vancouver and see what a legal cannabis trade show really has to offer, and it was quite a trip to say the least! With guest speakers, brand booths, tons of free swag, familiar faces, giveaways, and more, it almost makes you forget that the most important part is missing. You would think that at an adults only event, entirely focused on the budding cannabis industry, might want to show off their flowers. Unfortunately, arbitrarily draconian restrictions simply won’t allow for it and to my understanding, Health Canada won’t allow vendors to even display cannabis products, leaving them no choice but to show you doctored pictures of what was surely their best at the time. So leave your kids at home and get baked before you read along as I recall my first cannabis event without cannabis.
The Lift & Co. Cannabis Business Conference is a three day event, with the first day being an exclusive (and expensive) networking day where “industry players” schmooze over cocktails as well as catered buffet breakfast and lunch. Those who shell out the insane $597.45 per ticket for the first day also get exclusive access to an “event app with networking platform”, an evening networking reception, and access to the following two days of the conference. We didn’t go on the first day, but we were there for the “Industry” and “Consumer” days, which was plenty of time to get an idea of why Lift continues to draw thousands of people and millions of dollars every year.
The morning that I arrived at Canada Place for the conference the weather was absolutely terrible with freezing rain and driving gale force winds. I had a bit of time before Nikki was supposed to arrive so I decided to look around for a place to have a few dabs out of the elements. I asked one of the event staff if such a place existed and they looked rather confused by the question and pointed to the big metal and glass lean-to outside where people smoke cigarettes. I knew that the year before they had accommodated people in an underground parking area and when I mentioned this they were oblivious to this fact and repeated that everyone would have to smoke or vape outside. I spent the next ten minutes awkwardly trying to operate my torch in the wind to get a dab and scarfed down a couple Green Haired Freak gummies to help alleviate my fibromyalgia flare up that had accompanied the weather system.
When Nikki arrived we went inside and got into a bustling line up for our passes. Once we had our personalized lanyards and went through the coat check it was time to go into the main room. When you first walk in there are a few generic Lift staff to greet you and three huge racks of empty swag bags for the taking so I foolishly grabbed one bag and we started on our tour around the massive labyrinth of booths, stages, food vendors and bars. It seems completely hypocritical and backwards but you can drink at Lift even though they aren’t allowed to have cannabis on site for you to check out. Luckily for us we had each brought a 750mg Euphoria dark chocolate bar which was enough to get us through the long day of walking ahead. There were hundreds of booths for businesses ranging from investing, staff management, POS systems, growing equipment, paraphernalia, pharmacies, actual LP’s, and many more. Almost all of the booths were giving away free stuff ranging from pens to toques and other clothing and my first swag bag quickly filled up.