Lift Expo Vancouver was an interesting look into Canada’s brand-new legal cannabis industry. While medical cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2000, adult recreational use was legalized October 17th, 2018. To find out what the first three months of legalization in Canada looked like, we headed up to British Columbia to talk with some of the companies working in the space. Here are some takeaways about what’s going on up North.
Canada’s Laws Vary by Province
Every cannabis brand shared their own version of the waiting game when asked how their experience was entering the new industry. While some had to wait for compliant packaging or for the laws to be fully announced, others were holding their breath and crossing their fingers to win the lottery for licenses in specific municipalities.
Canadian Companies are Looking for New Ways to Brand Themselves
Because of Health Canada’s strict packaging and labeling restrictions for recreational cannabis, companies are given very little leeway to brand their products and stand out from others on the shelves. One very interesting issue facing Katie Almas from High Park & Canaca, is that consumers are seeking strains, not growers, similar to the wine industry, where users will ask for a generic ‘chardonnay’ instead of appreciating the subtle flavors and experiences specific growers can curate. Here’s an example of Cove brand’s old packaging, that had a clear brand and vibe, versus new compliant packaging, which leaves very little space for creativity:
Edibles and Concentrates Aren’t Legal Yet
In the U.S. cannabis industry, edibles and vaporizers are among the hottest products not only with experienced users, but also with those who have either never tried the product before. The accessibility, easy dosing, and flavor of edibles is a huge draw among older generations and professionals. Health Canada has not yet legalized these two consumption methods, although companies at Lift were preparing their un-infused formulas so they would be ready when edibles and concentrates are legal this upcoming October. However, food grade oils and liquids are currently approved by Health Canada.
The Future is Bright
Canada’s cannabis space is very much in its wild form – time will tell how it falls together and balances out over the coming months and years. Researchers are creating new marijuana technologies and surveying the landscape of consumers preferences while consumers are anxiously awaiting the opening of new retail dispensaries and product launches. Lift Expo was a fantastic first peak into Canada’s brand new cannabis industry and we are excited to see how it grows!