Q and A: Cannabis industry leaders to descend on Edmonton for conference
On Wednesday, cannabis industry leaders will be descending on the Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel for the second WE Cann Conference to share insights into the cannabis industry right now and future growth opportunities.
The one-day conference co-hosted by The Cannalysts and Grant Thornton LLP features keynotes, panel discussions and networking opportunities with leaders from a variety of industries including agricultural, scientific, retail, and manufacturing.
Ian McDonald, a local industry expert from Grant Thornton LLP, discussed the upcoming conference and the future of the cannabis industry as the province continues to lead in growth and opportunity. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: What are some of the talks expected to take place at the conference?
We’ve got three panels that will have industry experts on them. There are going to be a science panel talking about what’s going to be coming up in terms of cannabis hemp products, a retail panel and that’s close to all of us because of the issues associated with retail, and we also have an operational excellence panel talking about the challenges preparing for the new product platforms.
Q: What does hosting this conference in Edmonton mean for the province?
It will validate what Alberta is doing because I think we will have industry leaders here who will be really impressed with the quality of Alberta-based businesses. The export potential is huge. I’ve heard of export arrangements with a number of European countries by Alberta-based business in the cannabis industry.
Q: How would you describe Alberta’s cannabis industry?
It’s really exciting. In Alberta, we’ve hit hard times with our oil and gas industry being battered. This is a brand new opportunity and a brand new industry where Canada has the opportunity to be a world leader and Alberta is probably the province right out there in front because of our entrepreneurial spirit and we are people who like to get involved in business and create opportunity.
Q: Where do you see the most growth in the industry?
I see the most opportunity coming up when we have the second wave of legalization in the fall. We have clients who are preparing for it and studying for it. Right now, I think it might be in the ancillary industries. When you think of cannabis, you almost automatically think of the growing part of it, but I think a lot of the opportunity involves being part of the supply chain that’s supplying into the industry, whether it’s product or services.
Q: How can Alberta continue to lead?
I think Albertans’ willingness to invest will keep us out front. We’re willing to try things, and I think we can stay out in front if we continue to invest, be innovative and open.