Canada is creating a multi-billion dollar legal cannabis industry, thanks in large part to community organizers and activists like Lisa Campbell. The industry, which was once considered a wild west, is now being cozied up to by big banks and stock investors. While some old school cannabis patients are angry about the changes, noting that the social justice element are being lost. Companies are cheering for the growth and potential that can be brought to the table for patients. Campbell, sees both perspectives and recently put aside her own work in the industry to join the team at Lifford Wine & Spirits to head up their Cannabis portfolio.
Known for her role in Toronto, Campbell has helped several independent cannabis companies come to the forefront. She’s hoping that she can use that same magic of connection and community at Lifford’s in her role of Cannabis Portfolio Specialist where her mandate will be to work with licensed producers and craft makers to ensure their products get into the LCBO and SAQ. It’s an exciting time for both Campbell and the industry, and we had the chance to talk to Campbell about why cannabis conversations matter and what changes she foresees happening in the world of cannabis. Keep reading for our Q&A:
Edit Seven: What information are you hoping to provide to help push forward craft cannabis?
Lisa Campbell: My goal is to work with existing craft cannabis producers and pair them with the top licensed producers in Canada, so they can make and create products to bring to market over the next year and a half. Right now, we’re seeing cannabis beverages become a growing trend and that’s something we’re looking into. Another thing that has gained acceptance with cannabis consumption spaces in Ontario are vape pens. As the government begins to set up their own retail shops for cannabis, agents can play a role in sourcing diverse products for consumers. While we aren’t sure yet if there will be a consignment program in Ontario, the possibilities are endless.
E7: Cannabis has become one of the fastest-growing categories globally, why do you think that is?
LC: We are experiencing a global revolution of cannabis and it is growing every day. Many consumers are choosing to give up alcohol in favour of mocktails or canna-cocktails. As cannabis becomes legal, new consumers are curious but don’t necessarily want to smoke. Edibles and drinks, when finally regulated, can and will be a great alternative to smoking.
As Canada prepares for legalization this summer, Lifford Wine & Spirits is positioning ourselves to be the world leader in global import and export of craft cannabis. The products we create in Canada will be the global brands of the future, especially when celebrities like Snoop Dogg and the Tragically Hip come into the mix partnering with licensed producers.
E7: Banks in Canada seem to be friendlier to cannabis companies, with many cannabis companies already on the Stock Exchange. What type of growth can we expect come July 1st?
LC: Stocks will continue to rise as we near legalization, there could be dips along the way but that’s also chances to buy low and watch your stocks grow. Already Aurora is a powerhouse and is beginning to compete with Canopy Growth Corp. For those looking to get in on legalization there are many companies pre IPO or on the verge of being licensed or acquired, so there’s lots of opportunities to buy low and sell high before legalization hits. Many are choosing to hold strong as Canada gears up to begin to export edibles and other derivative products by July 2019.
E7: Why do you think it’s important to teach, consult and invest in the world of cannabis and disruptive the narrative of what we know?
LC: There are so many opportunities in the cannabis world as we are rebuilding the supply chain from the ground up. Agents are the new brokers in cannabis, sourcing consistent supply which meets QA at a price which satisfies consumer demand is a fine art. Just as wine and spirits agencies host tastings, the cannabis agencies of the future will have product showrooms, tasting rooms and licensed events if we can get the cannabis policy in Ontario right.
E7: For those who are nervous about the changes coming forth (with legalization and taxation) – what advice do you have?
LC: There’s no reason to tax medicine, but if we want to legalize cannabis for recreational adult use we need to accept that there will be taxes just like any other commercial product. Taxation is incentive for government to deliver on legalization municipally, provincially and federally. The scariest thing about legalization for many craft producers is the increased sentencing in the Cannabis Act. It is essential that craft producers are included in legalization, as it is in the LCBO’s mandate to support local craft producers.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Ama Scriver)