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Expo Pot-ential

The annual Cannabis and Hemp Expo rolled into Calgary’s BMO Centre over the March 8 weekend, and this year’s show basked in the bonus of legalization, lifting the stigma from cannabis enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.


There were no actual cannabis products available for purchase, but there were plenty of growers, distributors, and dispensaries present, as well as new gadgets designed to improve the cannabis connoisseur’s lifestyle.  


The weekend was also packed with panel discussions, ranging from the upcoming legalization of edibles, how to correctly use CBD and THC in cooking, and an overview of the current cannabis market in Canada.


Nick Pateras, the vice president of growth and international strategy at Lift & Co, a Canadian cannabis media and technology platform, took the stage just before 1 p.m. on Saturday, and shared his thoughts on the passing of the legalization bill, which he said was the number one story in the Canadian cannabis market in 2018.


Bringing attention to activists and advocates who dedicated decades, and sometimes their lives to fight for the legalization of cannabis, Pateras extended his gratitude, and his hopes that soon enough legalization will be worldwide. 


“We are the flag bearers, and others will follow by [Canada’s] example.”


Pateras then dove into the importance of a successful retail network in the cannabis market.  While many other provinces are slow to issue licenses for dispensaries, and therefore rely on online sales, Alberta has cornered the retail market. The province boasts 75 dispensaries, with 25 in Calgary alone. Pateras went on to say that Quebec only has 12, while Ontario still has none.


By having a solid retail environment, customers have the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with knowledgeable staff. Information about both product and legalities is consistent and available to everyone, regardless of whether they have been purchasing illegally in the past; or, who are new to cannabis, or haven’t purchased in a long time.


Moving through the expo, it was easy to see that vendors were excited about being able to provide a positive learning experience to both their fellow industry employees, and the members of the public in attendance. 


Curtis Cherniwchan, owner of Creative Wood Co. in Edmonton said, “I think that for anybody who really wants to learn, this is the place to come.”  


Cherniwchan, who also designs and carves several of the products available for purchase at Creative Wood Co., said that there was an abundance of information for people who aren’t just “average smoker[s],” and that it was really geared toward individuals who are seeking to understand how to best grow their own cannabis, or to gain knowledge about how cannabis can help them with their daily lives.


This was the second year that Calgary’s Golden Acre Home and Garden was present at the Expo, with a set up located on prime

real estate – right at the main entrance of the exhibit hall, and boasting a full display of fertilizers, nutrients, and indoor growing options.


Speaking post-show, Colin Hayles, buyer and head of the indoor growing department at Golden Acre, said an event like the Cannabis and Hemp Expo showcases the potential for a thriving cannabis culture in Calgary, with opportunities for individual enthusiasts and businesses alike. 


“It was a true joy to see that community come together, and everybody helping everybody.”

Hayles said the interest in indoor growing is represented by people from diverse

backgrounds, each with a different knowledge base.  Some people are green to indoor growing, while others have been doing it for over a decade.


And, there are several different focuses when it comes to indoor growing. People visiting the Golden Acre booth discussed growing cannabis for medicinal purposes, recreational use, and even turning cannabis into soap.


Successful growers want to share the triumphs, and the failures, so that other growers don’t make the same mistakes, and Hayles loves to see these interactions. There’s a significant amount of that exchange in the retail environment as well, more than any other department at Golden Acre.


For those enthusiasts who would rather leave the growing to others, there were plenty of new innovations in paraphernalia to browse and get lit about.  


If you’re an environmentally conscious smoker, you like a clean smoking experience, or you’re all thumbs when it comes to rolling, the 7 Pipe Twisty Glass Blunt is the way to go.  Just pack the weed into the glass tube, twist the screw in, pop the cap off, and you’re ready to light it and enjoy what Twisty boasts as a “thirty per cent cooler hit.” Unlike regular blunts, which are rolled in tobacco leaves, or paper-rolled joints, the only thing burning in a Twisty Blunt is the marijuana.


A few aisles over we found Wolf Grinders, an Edmonton company designing products for cannabis using adventurers.  Here, we were introduced to the Scorpion, part-pipe, part-Transformer.  This little guy is no bigger than a jar of lip balm, and is made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum. The swivel cover and folding stem are secured with magnets, making it easy to open and close, and tuck away discreetly.


While silicone pipes and bongs were a plenty, and a great alternative for those who tend to drop things, all that glitters is glass, and it’s still the go-to for most cannabis enthusiasts.


With a plethora of pipes and a bounty of bongs, there was no lack of sparkle and shine in the BMO centre over the weekend; and live glass-blowing demonstrations drew a steady audience every hour.  


Glass artists from retailers such as The Brain Candy, Jazzcat Glass, and DabChamps, rotated in and out of the space provided, using small torch set-ups to heat the glass and shape it into dabbers and bowls. Those not actively creating mingled through the crowd and explained the process to onlookers, and were eager to share their craft.

Oh, Cannabis!: Nick Pateras, Vice President of growth and international strategy at Lift & Co. spoke about the early stages of the Canadian cannabis market, and the importance of a successful retail network, during the second day of the Cannabis and Hemp Expo in Calgary, in March 2019.

(Photo by Keane Straub)

"We are the flag bearers, and others will follow

by [Canada's] example."

- Nick Pateras

Golden Acre Home and Garden returned to

Golden Acre is the place to be!: Golden Acre Home and Garden had prime real estate at the front entrance of the expo.  They offered a full display of fertilizers, nutrients (above), and indoor growing options (below).

An indoor growing setup at the Golden Ac

Expo offerings: Glass artists show off their skills during a live glass-blowing demonstration (top left and right); the 7 PipeTwisty Glass Blunt (centre); and Wolf Grinders' Scorpion Pipe were just some of the draws at the 2019 Cannabis and Hemp Expo

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