We recently attended Toronto’s monthly Leaf Toronto meetup, which was fascinating and energizing on many fronts. After a panel discussion and audience Q&A, I walked away with some valuable new ideas and perspective.
Here are my top 3 observations and takeaways from the event:
1. Legalization is just the beginning. In Canada, recreational cannabis will become legal on July 1, 2018. While this is a huge step in the evolution of the marketplace, this is only one step in a much longer journey. Think about how different the experience of buying alcohol was immediately after prohibition was lifted (think drab retail outlets with staff in white coats and your booze handed to you in a plain paper bag), compared to the multi sensory retail experience of buying alcohol today. Initial marketing and supply chain restrictions will loosen and expand over time, just as alcohol regulations have evolved. This means that businesses that aren’t legally viable (e.g. edible sales, smaller “craft” cannabis growers, etc.) on July 1, 2018 will hopefully get an opportunity as the laws become more inclusive.
2. Cannabiz isn’t just about growing pot. What struck me about the meetup was how many different domains of expertise are needed to advance the industry. Lawyers such as Lewin & Sagara are developing specialized expertise in helping clients to navigate cannabis law. Consulting firms such as Cannabis Compliance can help with anything from grow facility design to business plans to equipment sourcing. Cafe and vapour lounge owners such as Toronto’s Abi Roach are navigating the rocky waters of where and how cannabis can be legally consumed. In short, cannabiz is just like any other marketplace in that it needs infrastructure and specialists to establish and expand the industry.
3. Entrepreneurs need help now. At the end of the session, the Leaf Meetup organizers gave 15 seconds for anyone in attendance to announce to the room what they’re working on and what kind of help they’re looking for. Product owners looking for industrial designers, cannabis extract specialists looking for partners, even founders looking for co-founders spoke to the group about their need for help.
In sum, the nascent cannabis industry in Canada and the US needs a wide range of skillsets and experience. The constantly evolving landscape and legal framework means more help is needed than ever to keep up with the coming demand for legal cannabis. All are welcome to join this exciting space and the time to get involved is now!