Niagara region, known for peaches, grapes and greenhouses, is open to using that agricultural expertise to cash in on the coming legalization of marijuana.
In a sure sign of how marijuana is moving mainstream, the region will host a major conference on the soon-to-be legal crop, with experts on cultivation, law and health talking about how to make better, more energy efficient pot and discussing many of the issues arising out of that pending legalization.
'It's going to be a new industry and we need to be ready for it.' - Jim Diodati, Niagara Falls Mayor
The event will take place Oct. 6-7 at the Niagara Falls Scotiabank Convention Centre and will hear from over 100 speakers from a variety of specialties, including doctors and lawyers.
"We're trying to attract the industry professionals from across North America that are involved in the growing aspect of it," said Grow Up Conference and Expo president, Randy Rowe.
The city is happy to welcome the industry experts and delegates and associate its name with the product, says Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati, who will be giving the opening address at the conference next Friday.
Diodati says it's time to face the facts that marijuana will soon be legal.
"It's going to be a new industry and we need to be ready for it," said Diodato.
"I think we have to face the reality that it's coming and if you knew that Henry Ford was about to mass produce the automobile, you'd want to be in the gas station business," said Diodati.
Rowe says the topic has become more mainstream, people have accepted the benefits of medical marijuana.
"We are seeing a lot more conferences, it's starting to get out in the open more. I think people now know that the effects of cannabis has an advantage for medicinal purposes, so that's all because of education," said Rowe.
Rowe says they're hoping to educate people on how to develop it, and how to ensure that what's being put out there is consistent and a suitable product.
"How do we get it to the public and do it in a safe way," said Rowe.
Niagara a perfect location
When it comes to the location of such a conference, Rowe believes it makes sense to be held in Niagara.
The conference president says the Niagara region is attracting a lot of licensed producers, especially since the area is known for growing.
"Take a drive down the highway, you'll see all the greenhouses," said Rowe. "Also the climate down here is perfect in Ontario. We're the most southern part of Canada basically so we have a great climate down here."
'It's just another step where we show Niagara is leading the way in this field.' - Randy Rowe, Grow up Conference and Expo president
Rowe says it has a lot to do with agriculture in the region. He says people that have been in the industry can easily flip over to cannabis.
There's a lot of education in Niagara about cannabis now says Rowe. Earlier this month Niagara College announced that it would be the first to offer a certificate in the production of commercial cannabis.
"It's just another step where we show Niagara is leading the way in this field," said Rowe.
They'll be a couple of legal panels to discussing the law of cannabis and the effects of cannabis in the community.
Rowe say's there's a lot of unanswered questions as far as the legal issue goes.
"We're not sure exactly how it's all going out, how's going to affect consumers, how are we going to be able to police it," said Rowe. "There's a lot of unanswered questions so this is just a great opportunity for people to discuss it."