The marijuana industry is growing like a weed.
Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in October 2018, Canada’s newest sector has taken off and can barely keep up with the demand.
However, it’s not all coming up daisies for producers, extractors and industry professionals.
On Tuesday, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce hosted a weed-free luncheon for its Business of Cannabis 2.0 round table which illustrated how even industry experts are still seeking answers for their questions nine months after legalization.
Four industry experts discussed how the industry has grown exponentially over the past two years and shed some light on where the future of the sector could possibly reach.
“I think, by and large, legalization has been something that has been successful,” said Dan Winer, Starbuds’ director of marketing.
In its infancy, the marijuana industry has already created thousands of jobs across Canada while creating revenue streams and taxable sources and diverting funds away from the black market, Winer explained.
He also underscored the importance of physical brick and mortar stores.
“It’s a sensory product. You want to touch it, you want to smell it, you want to look at it, you want to feel it, you want to be involved with it in any way shape or form before you walk out with the product,” he said.
So if there are no stores, like in Kelowna, that is an issue, he said.
Advertising and marketing also remain a hot topic.
Lyle Oberg, director of Flowr Corporation which is developing a pot production facility in the Central Okanagan, said the restrictions on packaging makes it difficult for consumers to access the best cannabis for their intended purposes.
“You go into a store — once you get one in Kelowna — come to Kamloops and look at the store,” he said.
“It’s really hard to tell one product from another. The consumer is really not getting the proper information to make informed choices.”
Fifteen applications for pot shops have been moved through Kelowna city council for rezoning and more than seven have been approved.
But now the applications are somewhere in the pipeline awaiting provincial authorization.
“The B.C. government has been negligent in not providing more access for cannabis,” Oberg said.
“I think it’s inexcusable that there are no cannabis stores in Kelowna.”
“It is time the black market actually stops. It’s time the black market comes to the legal side of it and it’s time that you actually know what’s in the cannabis you’re smoking.”
Despite the challenges experienced navigating the new industry, panellist Chantel Popoff, the COO of Valens GroWorks, said it’s a great time for fresh graduates to jump in.
“I think the growth opportunities are endless for any new grads looking at cannabis,” she said.
“It is moving fast and you need to jump and hit the ground running and make sure your feet don’t stop, or you can’t keep up.
“It’s a fantastic way to learn on the job and the industry is looking for young talent.”