At its core, the Lift Cannabis Expo is all about "stimulating conversation."

“The industry today is where it is because of the [decades] of advocacy and patient rights that have pushed this legislation forward,” said Lift CEO Matei Olaru, referring to the recently announced federal legislation to legalize recreational cannabis by July 1, 2018.

“I think the industry will only continue to develop in that manner, with people who are invested asking questions and pushing the agenda forward. If we can stimulate people to ask more questions, we’ve been successful [as expo organizers.]”

Of course, that’s not the only goal of Canada’s biggest cannabis trade show, slated for May 26-28 in Toronto.

The second annual expo organized by Lift – Canada’s largest cannabis media and technology company – will feature nearly 200 exhibitors from around the world offering education, innovation and opportunities to the thousands of consumers, patients, healthcare professionals, investors and cannabis professionals set to descend upon the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

“Lift exists to empower better choices around cannabis, so the expo is really kind of a manifestation of that,” said Olaru, adding that last year’s Toronto expo saw more than 10,000 people over two days.

“A lot happens in one year, everything from regulatory changes to clarity on what legalization will look like. Our approach for this year’s expo, then, is to once again provide that platform that can bring different points of view together in an intelligent conversation.”

The Canadian government’s legalization promise will undoubtedly have a major impact on this year’s edition of the expo, said Olaru. In fact, it’s largely what inspired the first-ever Lift expo Industry Day, billed as an “exclusively professional environment” that will bring together cannabis business owners, decision makers, employees and entrepreneurs for a day of “meaningful conversations, relationships and deals.”

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The day will include panel discussions with industry leaders - including Civilized founder Derek Riedle, who will be speaking at 2 p.m. - as well as a start-up pitch competition offering over $20,000 in prizes and services to the winning business. Judges for the competition will include Dragons’ Den’s W. Brett Wilson, Tweed founder Chuck Rifici, lawyer Hugo Alves and Aaron Salz, the first financial analyst in Canada to cover the industry.

“With that lens of upcoming legalization, we really wanted to empower better choices by sourcing those pioneers, those thought leaders in the industry, and providing a very intimate environment for those people to create and discuss what legalization will look like,” said Olaru.

Of course, for many Canadians, full legalization could very well mean a new professional direction – which is why the expo is offering what Olaru calls “the largest cannabis career fair of the summer.”

“If people are looking to get into the space in any capacity, whether it’s trimming at a licensed producer or marketing with any sort of company, you can come drop off your resume and potentially find an opportunity for yourself,” he said. “We’ll also have a live demonstration area, where people will be able to see live extraction, live cooking and growing demos – basically all the ways the plant is used and extracted and manipulated, which I think will be very informative for the audience.”

At its core, that’s what the Lift cannabis expo – which Olaru expects will attract roughly 15,000 people this year – is all about.

“It’s that meeting place for cannabis, that place where the entire industry – not just in Canada, but from across North America and Europe – comes together,” he said.

“It’s that place where people can discover everything from business opportunities to the coolest extraction technologies and products. No matter who you are, you can meet someone and learn something.”

Civilized is a sponsor of the Lift Cannabis Expo. Tickets for the expo cost $35 for two days and can be purchased here.

Banner image: facebook.com/liftcann