It’s the hottest ticket in Kelowna on 4/20.
The three-day BC Cannabis Summit is the first legal weed conference held in the Okanagan, and it starts today with events at the Eldorado Resort.
“It’s coming together wonderfully,” said Andrew Gordon, who is one of the main organizers. “It’s been this wildly popular thing that’s all of a sudden captivated the hearts and minds of so many in this province.”
The event is at capacity with more than 300 people in attendance and many more streaming panels and keynotes online. Behind the scenes, people are scrambling to try to get last-minute tickets.
The theme is ‘Roll it up. Hash it out.’ The summit will bring together key regulatory and governmental players, as well as industry, economic, business, and policy thought leaders.
Keynote speakers include Tourism Kelowna’s CEO, a former Westbank First Nation chief, and Kelowna mayor Colin Basran.
Main organizers, which are the BC Craft Farmers Co-op (BCCFC) and the Association for Canadian Cannabis Retailers (ACCRES), aim to identify key policy changes to advocate. Discussions and surveys from the summit are intended to help to identify gaps, opportunities, and challenges in the industry.
Cannabis is an economic driver, job creator, and a significant contributor to the tax base — and an especially important piece after the pandemic brought the world to a standstill, said Gordon, the vice-president of the BCCFC.
“Cannabis is going to be that vanguard, that leading component of the new economic regime,” he said.
Aside from all the seriousness, the summit is also focused on networking and sharing industry experience.
People are going to be able to migrate through the resort and enjoy a cannabis tradeshow and other experiences, including villas that feature cannabis community content creators hosting things like cooking demos and live podcasting.
The livestream will showcase expert panels and some of the programming that’s happening.
“Attending virtually, you’re definitely going to get access to a tremendous amount of the content that’s going to be coming out of this,” he said. “You get to be a fly on the wall for a lot of great conversations that are covering medical, retail, marketing, and also getting a sense of what the future of cannabis farming and processing looks like, helping to end the stigma in the digital age.”
The Brightbuds stage will feature a series of TED-type talks.
The summit will also be the venue for two different awards.
On Wednesday there’s the Budtender Awards.
“It will be featuring and highlighting the best in local BC craft producers,” said Gordon. “We’ll be able to enjoy the best that cannabis has to offer in terms of products and people.”
Then Thursday night, retailer ARCannabis is hosting its awards show, which has been pitting brand against brand in a bracket-style popularity contest that has been taking place for weeks through social media.
“This is not a pay to play conference, and I really think that’s a differentiating feature of this summit,” says Gordon.
“This isn’t about just regurgitating marketing messaging or that kind of vapid exchange we often see on stage at so many of the larger conferences where it’s really just platitudes. This is going to be a real exchange of ideas with the intent to move the industry forward in a positive purposeful direction.”
To register for the livestream, visit bccraftfarmerscoop.com/vip-livestream-registration.
David Wylie is publishing editor of the oz., an Okanagan cannabis magazine and website.