‘It’s a great melting pot’: Hundreds flock to annual cannabis conference

'It's a great melting pot': Hundreds flock to annual cannabis conference

Hundreds of cannabis enthusiasts and professionals are flocking to a highly-anticipated cannabis conference and expo in Victoria, where Tommy Chong is a main speaker.

Grow Up is making its return to the Victoria Conference Centre, which invites those within the industry to learn more about trends, network with other producers, and have a chance to get their products on the shelves of retailers.

“It’s a great melting pot for companies to come and connect with each other. Trade notes, make new friends, and forge new relationships that can be very profitable in the future,” said Paul Dhillon, who attended the event.

The event has been happening for over five years, but this year is a first for organizers. The government has given Grow Up the green light to allow licensed producers to provide samples to licensed retailers, the first of its kind in B.C.

“They want to know what the product is, how it tastes, how it smells, how it smokes so that they can choose the best menu for their cannabis stores and in turn, consumers have a better product,” said Randy Rowe, president of Grow Up.

Rowe said the culture surrounding cannabis has changed positively, but on the business side, it has been difficult to handle competition. He says conferences like this help professionals stay afloat.

“We have to compete with the legacy market that doesn’t get regulated, that doesn’t have to pay tax. So I think it’s our part as an organizer to try and help all the growers together to make it a viable business.”

The event hosts speed networking sessions, seed exchanges and home-growing workshops and explores how technology and cannabis can work together.

“If you were to have a conference like this ten years ago, we’d all be in jail,” said Rowe.

Actor and comedian Tommy Chong — most notable for his role in the “Cheech and Chong” films — is also listed as one of the main speakers at the conference. He’s also known within the cannabis industry as a trailblazer.

“I don’t know how I feel, I just know that I feel happy. Not always hungry, but definitely positive,” said Chong.

The conference will go on through Oct. 3.

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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