The first ever Cannabis Life Conference opened on May 13, 2017 in Toronto, ON. The inaugural event took place at a venue called the Evergreen Brick Works, located about 35 minutes outside of the downtown core via public transit.

My companion on this excursion was the wonderful Amy Anonymous. We didn’t know exactly where we were going and the grey clouds in the sky threatened rain. So we used an Uber on the Saturday afternoon to check out the conference and expo.

Cannabis Life Conference Toronto

As the Uber drove aimlessly around the parking lot, I looked for signage — non-existent. I eventually asked our driver to just drop us off at the area that seemed most populated by people. We got out of the car and looked confusedly around for where to go. Finally we saw a friendly face, Cy from High! Canada Magazine, and he directed us through the market to the conference space.

Once we entered the pavilion we saw large (misspelled) banners advertising the event. Nearby sat the box office where we could pick up our passes. Once I picked up mine, reserved for me by the folks at The Karma Cup, we entered the exhibition area.

Cannabis Life Conference 2017 entryway

The only signage was directly at registration. And it wasn’t even proofread. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Sunday.)

Panels and Presenters

The list of speakers was intriguing as it included some speakers I have never heard of before including keynote speaker Ricky Williams, a retired NFL running back and Heisman Trophy winner who spoke on “Exercise and Recovery” with cannabis.

There were also familiar names such as cannabis activist and three-time mayor of Grand Forks, BC, Brian Taylor, scheduled to present on the role of municipalities in legalization.

Various panels were put together about cannabis and sex, cannabis and its application as a cancer treatment, “Lifestyle and Creativity”, and “Exercise and Recovery”.

There was also a panel entitled “Am I Illegal?” during which panelists reportedly struggled to answer some of the audience questions — not a good sign for “industry leading panelists”.

Vendors and Exhibitors

Initially I was impressed by the set-up. Though not a very large area there was a good mix of vendors both from the current legal market and dispensaries.

Cannabis Life Conference 2017 MMJ Canada (Lowelight Media)

MMJ Canada — an informative medical marijuana booth, but where’s the medical marijuana. (Photo courtesy of Lowelight Media.)

I waved to a few vendors as I walked by the booths. Though the Brick Works area was quite busy and the parking lot quite full, the expo itself seemed to be poorly attended for the middle of the afternoon.

Amy and I made our way to The Karma Cup booth to thank them for the passes and see how they were enjoying the event. Joy is not what we found.

Where’s the Weed?

At the The Karma Cup booth we found out we had just missed event organizers threatening to evict the team if they did not refrain from selling cannabis products, forcing them to remove products from their tables.

I had spoken to other vendors beforehand and had been pleasantly surprised to hear that vendors had been told to use their own discretion in regards to cannabis sales. Apparently that only applied to some vendors; as I walked around the venue again, some vendors were openly selling while others were not. One thing was very absent however, the danky, welcoming smell of cannabis.

Cannabis Life Conference 2017 Mary Jane's Touch booth

Mary Jane’s Touch and The Baker’s Shop booth — at least topicals and edibles were allowed by security. (Photo courtesy of Lowelight Media.)

While I saw a few e-nails and dab rigs at various booths, they seemed set up for the private use of vendors, not attendees.

Sure You Can Smoke … Tobacco

It didn’t take very long to visit the 15-20 booths and then it was time to medicate. Except I couldn’t.

I do not dab and my portable vaporizer is unfortunately broken. So I headed to the smoking area, only to be told that although tobacco was allowed I would have to leave the property to consume a cannabis cigarette.

I was furious. That meant I would have to walk across the busy parking lot and then down to stand on a very busy street to medicate.

I could have argued. I could have stood my ground. I could have let them call police to have me escorted off the property or arrested. I could even have caused a scene at the conference itself.

Instead, I’m kind of ashamed to say, I simply left.

Corporations or Community

After attending a similar expo just a few weekends before, I found myself frustrated and angry by what seems to have become quite prevalent in the cannabis space as of late. Namely, a lack of consultation and consideration for the cannabis consumers themselves.

Speaking to another conference attendee, his review was somewhat the same as mine though a bit more colourful. “I feel like some actual cannabis would have been a great addition to this conference,” Jay Danger thought. He continued, “It felt like the neglected child of the Lift Expo and was attended as such.” Danger made it very clear he found the whole event unwelcoming to patients and would be unlikely to attend in the future.

Because of that unwelcoming welcome, I did not attend the second day. Reports from some vendors stated that the addition of Randy and Mr Lahey from the Trailer Park Boys seemed to breathe some life into the event. But by that time the vendors harassed about cannabis sales on the previous day had already broken down their booths and gone home.

Cannabis Life Conference 2017 fawaffle food truck

The highlight of the event: the #fawaffle — a falafel waffle cone full of savoury goodness. (Original photos courtesy of Sarah Sunday.)

Cannabis Life Conference Vancouver

The Cannabis Life Conference will be debuting their Vancouver expo July 7-8th at The Westin Bayshore. I am eager to see how they deal with the issue of open sales and consumption at this particular venue.

However, if you’d like to save yourself ten dollars, may I suggest you just buy a gram and stay home?