I’m writing this week’s newsletter from the press box of Toronto’s MJ Biz Con international, where I’ve been all week.

Reputation expert Dave Scholz from market-research company Leger Marketing said the CannTrust scandal is affecting the entire Canadian industry.
MJ Biz Daily

  • In an industry so young that companies have little differentiation to the public, an scandal by one company makes everyone look bad.

The convention’s keynote speaker was former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell, whose tenure lasted a scant few months between elections in 1993.

  • Campbell presided over the Canadian “war on drugs” launched by her predecessor Brian Mulroney in the 1980s. Asked whether she regretted opposing cannabis, she responded that in the early 1990s cannabis was considered a gateway drug, and we hadn’t yet had the shift of understanding that made legalization possible.
  • One attendee, potstocks investor Betting Bruiser, booed Campbell as she took the stage and was removed from the audience and ejected from the Convention Centre.

Overheard at MJBIZCON (or things I was told by people who asked to remain anonymous)

  • Many commented how there are fewer people than in recent years, and the decline in attendance reflects the disappearance of last year’s unreasonable optimism in the sector. “Still deals to be made here, though,” I heard someone say while they bemoaned the attendance. Other predicted this will be the last time MJ BIZ holds a Canadian event.
  • The Canadian cannabis industry is years behind in gathering data on its consumers. One MED user told me she’d been buying from Tweed for years and while they sent her weekly promotional emails, they never bothered to personalize the emails to reflect the products she was reliably buying every month. That’s the industry writ large: some companies like Strainprint are collecting usage data, and some organizations are collecting retail data, but LPs know virtually nothing about what their consumers want in their cannabis products. Marketers don’t know what consumers want so they don’t know how to market to them. (Of course national law makes marketing very difficult.)

Health Canada isn’t going to allow itself to be burned again a la CannTrust—recall reports this summer that HC inspectors walked past unlicensed rooms clearly full of plants that shouldn’t have been there. Word on the floor of MJ Biz Con is HC inspectors will begin demanding facilities provide them physical maps on which licensed and unlicensed rooms are clearly marked so as to not repeat the CannTrust mistake.