Twisters, sealers, and giant buds: Pot expo shines light on future of cannabis
Dozens of the latest gadgets and technologies on display — but which ones will last?
Take two steps inside the cannabis expo and it's easy to get lost in the swath of green gadgets, gizmos, and elephant-sized machines.
The Lift and Co. Cannabis Expo has filled up the Vancouver Convention Centre in years past, but the 2019 event marks the first time it's been held in the post-legalization era.
From industrial-sized trimmers to miniature greenhouses, there is no shortage of business ventures looking to cash in on the so-called "green rush."
If you ask Nick Pateras, enthusiasm for the budding industry is at an all-time high. "Everyone is vying for their slice of the pie," said the Lift and Co. VP of Strategy.
But even he admits there's only so many slices to go around.
Go big or go home
Maximizing profits is the key to success for any business. And according to Keirton's Jocelyn Prefontaine, the Twister Trimmer, which it developed, is helping some of the biggest cannabis producers do just that.
The stainless steal Goliath looks like a giant kitchen spiralizer, taking in swaths of cannabis stems and trimming off the bulk of the buds.
"The average hand trimmer — and I'm saying average — can do about a pound-and-a-half to two-pounds in an eight hour period," Prefontaine told CBC News. "This will do 500 pounds in an hour."
She says the machine is expensive, with some models costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. But she claims return on the investment comes back soon. So far, 10 have been sold worldwide, and more purchase orders are coming in.
She says companies that have the capital to purchase standard-setting technologies like the trimmer will be the ones to succeed.
"Just like any industry, [the cannabis industry] is going to grow — and then it will contract," she said. "Some major players will be the big fish, like any major industry,"
Sometimes getting the inside track on your competitors means saddling up with a strategic partner.
That's exactly what Lyle Oberg and the Flowr Corporation did.
The Kelowna-based marijuana producer recently signed an agreement to supply medical cannabis to Shoppers Drug Mart, with products soon to be available online and eventually at the pharmacy, pending federal regulations.
"If you're going to be buying medicinal marijuana, Shoppers is certainly the place you want to go to, because you can trust them" said Oberg, Flowr's chief policy and medical officer.
Oberg admits there's been supply hiccups with the rollout of legal cannabis. But when the dust settles, he says there's going to be one major factor that separates the winners from the losers: quality.
"Whoever markets it the best, whoever can grow it — and whoever can grow quality — are the one's that are going to win."
Trust your instincts
Food equipment sales manager Wes Lund has spent much of his career showcasing gadgets that are useful in the kitchen — in particular, the famed Henkelman vacuum food sealer.
And as the cannabis wave picked up steam, the 29-year-old knew the patented sealer would also work to improve the shelf-life of marijuana buds.
"I wrote a report to the boss saying 'get me a booth' [at one of the cannabis expos]," he said. "He got me a booth, and it's been nothing but success since."
For two years, Lund has pushed the patented sealer into the cannabis realm. He says in order for people to succeed in the industry, they need to trust their instincts — and be ready to put in the work.
"Some of the biggest guys here use this product — I can't say who ... but some of the golden sponsors here use this product," he said.