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LIFT cannabis expo returns to Vancouver after three-year absence

Trade show includes a business conference and expo at Vancouver Convention Centre
LIFT cannabis expos were held in Toronto in November 2021 and May 2022

Vancouverites will get to experience their first LIFT cannabis business conference and expo since January 2020, just before COVID-19 restrictions chilled the trade show circuit. 

The LIFT business conference on Jan. 12 costs $600 each, while the expo on January 13 and 14 is free to budtenders, and $20 for the general public, according to Lindsay Roberts, portfolio lead for Lift Events & Experiences.

She told BIV that she expects about 125 exhibitors and 7,000 people to attend the Vancouver event. 

That is smaller than the estimated 200 exhibitors and 18,000 people who were at the last show, which was called Lift&Co. 

This year's show will largely follow a similar format to the ones held in Vancouver pre-pandemic, Roberts said.

The event has a new ownership group – the global giant MCI Group – thanks to the former operators, the public Lift&Co. Corp. (TSX-V:LIFT), making a voluntary assignment into bankruptcy, under Canada's Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act in September 2020.

Lift&Co. had named itself that way, and not simply LIFT, to prevent confusion with the Lyft Inc. (Nasdaq:LYFT) car-share venture, operators told BIV at the time. The now defunct company was also in 2020 shifting its business toward selling demographic data for cannabis sales

MCI Group only bought the event-hosting part of Lift&Co., Roberts said. 

The venture then held its first LIFT show in Toronto in November 2021, when about 200 exhibitors and 15,000 people attended, Roberts said. It then held a second show in Toronto, in May 2022, when about 170 exhibitors and 12,000 people attended, she added. 

The business conference in Vancouver is set to have panels and presentations on things such as setting the course for Canadian cannabis economic development, and identifying laws and regulations to change, re-write or throw out. Sometimes debate in these sessions have stirred controversy, such as in 2019, when discussion centred on how to best integrate marijuana-sector pioneers into what was then a fast-growing legal industry.

Roberts said that the next LIFT show is set for Toronto in June, followed by one in San Francisco in August. Unlike in Vancouver, exhibitors at the San Francisco show will be able to have cannabis products on their tables. 

Canadian and B.C. laws forbid exhibitors from giving samples to attendees to boost loyalty and positive brand perceptions. Some exhibitors in the past, however, have given away T-shirts emblazoned with their brands. 

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