From the Editor: Looking to 2022 and beyond
By Catarina Muia
By Catarina Muia
As we are in the final months of 2021, it’s interesting to see how the cannabis industry is looking to evolve in 2022 and beyond.
In this issue, we have a heavy focus on both the successes and the challenges that were faced not only in 2021, but in the years since cannabis has been legalized. But one thing has been made clear, we still have a long way to go until it’s close to perfect.
A big part of this has to do with the realization from licensed producers (LPs) that consumer data is extremely important in ensuring the products they release are aligning with their consumers’ specific interests.
In her Year in Review feature article ‘A wild ride’ (found on page 24), Treena Hein spoke to Will Stewart, senior VP at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, who explained, “We’re now starting to get some stratification, particularly in retail store fronts, with real differentiation and targeting of various markets. It’s good for consumers to see themselves reflected in the market and it’s a positive for the industry. I think that we’ll see individual customers being loyal to a few brands, just like they are with other types of products.”
Gauging consumer interests and loyalty is just one side of the coin though, with some making note about the lack of eliminating the stigmatization around cannabis, as well as lack of education for potential and current consumers. In the same article, George Smitherman, president and CFO of the Cannabis Council of Canada (C3), said that in his view, the government needs to step up when it comes to showing pride and support for the industry. “The stigmatization is really hanging in there. During the last few months, some of our members in Québec have had a major financial institution tell them they can’t be customers.”
Because of this, the illicit market is still able to thrive, which means educating consumers on obtaining safe and reliable products, is crucial. In his Vantage Point article, ‘Why We’re not Done Yet’ (found on page 28), Smitherman highlights the ‘Not Done Yet Report Card’, put together by C3. The report card focuses on what areas of the Canadian cannabis industry that still needs attention and development, including ‘Consumer Education and Awareness’, which received an ‘F’ grade on the report card. “We are a community of more than six million people,” Smitherman said in the article. “It’s time to end the stigma and discrimination holding back legal cannabis, including medical cannabis and medical cannabis-related products.”
Part of eliminating the stigma is recognizing how workers within the legal cannabis industry are committed to providing safe and reliable products to Canadian cannabis consumers. This includes Grow Opportunity’s 2021 Canada’s Top Grower recipient, Albert Eppinga, founder and CEO of BC Cannabis Inc. With a history in the illicit market, Eppinga has come a long way in the legal cannabis industry, “I’m able to tell my parents more about what I do and they can be proud of me, so it was quite an uplifting and empowering process, to have legalization come into play and allow me to express what I’m good at.” Through his win, Eppinga looks to employ, educate, and empower Indigenous people in the cannabis industry. Read the full article on page 18.
Is there a topic you would like to learn more about, or would like to teach your community about? Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear your feedback and get to know the members of our community. I’m looking forward to meeting and learning from each of you!
With that, I leave you to read, learn, and enjoy this issue of Grow Opportunity magazine.