Connect with us

Cannabis Now

Cannabis Now

Hall of Flowers Toronto Fuses Innovation and Collaboration

PHOTOS Haley Nagasaki

Industry Events

Hall of Flowers Toronto Fuses Innovation and Collaboration

The third Hall of Flowers event highlighted cutting-edge cannabis products and a spirit of camaraderie among brands and retailers.

The shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto played host to its third rendition of Hall of Flowers—the California-based B2B cannabis trade show and networking event making waves in Canada’s largest city. Two sunshiny days reflected the excitement of exhibitors and attendees at the Enercare Centre, part of Toronto’s Exhibition Place, and set the stage for a melding of North American brands to mingle with cannabis retailers, distributors and regulators.

The event’s reputation drew familiar crowds and delighted newcomers. Hall of Flowers is known for its sampling and consumption, its direct access to buyers and, of course, its vibes. When taking the temperature of the room, this year the engaging expo floor was noted, while others recognized the distinct merging of parts of the Canada-US cannabis market.

While flower may not be able to cross the world’s largest land border, brands certainly can!

Spotlight: Papa’s Herb

Papa’s Herb returned to Toronto this year with their double booth, many SKUs and coveted swag in tow. Toronto-born Max Benitah, Papa’s COO and co-founder, recounted the formation of the brand he started with his cousin. The company was modeled after their grandfather in Miami who used to sling cannabis out of his ice cream store when he was unable to make ends meet. “He sold weed and hash out of the back of his store to his friends at affordable prices, and he was always trying to hook them up with the best quality products at the best prices,” Benitah said. “So, we made the whole brand paying homage to our grandfather.”

Papa’s Herb launched in 2018 into the California rec market and the Oregon medical market as soon as it became legal. After legalization of the adult-use cannabis market in Canada, Papa’s Herb had an opportunity to work with one of the bigger LPs. “They saw what we did, and they wanted to replicate it here,” Benitah said. “We were able to bring our core suite of products, which is our vapes and infused pre-rolls, to market.”

As of June 6, Papa’s Herb now has 62 SKUs in the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) and fills orders in all Canadian provinces. In addition to the six states in which they’re already active, Papa’s has recently signed on to launch into four more, including Illinois and the impressive New York market. Four months ago, Papa’s also made it overseas to Thailand with just over 100 SKUs. Due to the nature of their products and the quality of cannabis they seek, “We can basically replicate in every single market, whether its Canada, the US or Thailand.”

Social Responsibility

In Canada, regulators often cite public health as the informant for the majority of our cannabis regulations. This was reflected at Hall of Flowers in the OCS booth whose mission was to promote their “Cannabis Made Clear” evidence-informed educational resources and social responsibility materials for retailers in the province.

“We have 800 stores on the one-to-one platform, and when they sign up, they can get all the educational materials for free and shipped right to their store,” said Jenna Valleriani, senior manager of social responsibility at the OCS. “We’re hoping it’s a move towards standardizing education across Canada.”

Creemore, Ontario-based LP Purple Hills also started a program called The Purple Bin Initiative for the return of cannabis product packaging to retail locations. Established in 700 retailers nationwide, the LP then collects materials rather than letting them end up in landfills. This industry produces a lot of waste, and Purple Hills is a model of how producers, retailers and consumers can work together to find solutions and lessen the environmental impact of outputs, while also petitioning for regulatory changes towards more sustainable packaging.

The spirit of combined efforts was also seen on full display at the Scotian Cannabis Alliance’s booth: a representation of several Maritime producers literally sharing space and working together to help advance this industry forward in a mutually beneficial way. The alliance works to find out exactly what the industry needs “when it comes to advocating for our rights, and where we need to allocate our energy when it comes to lobbying and making the industry safer,” said Adriana Magana, Aqualitas’ media and sales relations manager.   

Magana noted the camaraderie present at show: “Although we are competitors, we’re all here together in this booth, being friends just like in the Maritimes,” she said. “In the Maritimes, everyone is hanging out with their friends—that’s what we’re doing right now, just trying to bring more light on safe consumption and our brands in general.”  

Aqualitas has two brands in the recreational market, Reef Organic—one of the few clean green certified products on the market—and Current, comprised of several micro producers. The Nova Scotia LP also exports into international medical markets in Germany and the UK.

Wellness Products Prevail

Adjacent to the high potency concentrates and infused pre-rolls are the low/no-THC wellness products.

This year the Toronto show saw an influx of wellness brands focusing on the minor cannabinoids showcased by brands such as Kinloch Wellness, UFEELU, and Niagara’s Purileaf—a beloved infused oils and tincture company many swear by for the sleep benefits attributed to CBD.

Kinloch Wellness provides hemp-derived CBD, CBG and CBN products: gummies crafted in British Columbia and soft gels made in Ontario. The products are divided into four distinct categories by cannabinoid type, potency and specific outcome. This includes Elevate, with its uplifting, broad-spectrum composition; Refresh with its focused effects and mango flavors; Serene for high potency CBD; and CBZ, which is the relaxing and sedating line.

Finally, who could forget Stewart Farms, known for their best-selling bath bombs. CEO Tanner Stewart displayed some new products under the Rebound banner, including their Arctic Heat Muscle Cream with 500mg of CBD and 500mg of THC, CBD Salt Soaks, and the fan-favorite Lavender + Arnica Skin Relief Balm. Both Kinloch Wellness and Stewart Farms pinpointed the men and women who work physical jobs as a market segment that greatly benefit from their products, citing the “pipefitters.”

Something For Everyone

Toronto’s Hall of Flowers brought something for everyone in the adult-use Canadian cannabis market.  My personal favorite was the delicious line of sophisticated 510 vapes by Papa’s Herb: The Jack Herer Sativa for high functioning, RNTZ Indica’s tendency toward extreme relaxation. I also loved the new Ambr brand with its “Sensational, Flavourful and Bold” Hybrid vape that I’ll vouch for as my writing companion for this article.

I’m a big fan of Rebound’s topical wellness products, which I’ve been using for years.  And then there’s that iconic Canadian flower: the Reef clean green certified pre-roll I relished after the show, and the new Kush God cultivar by Pure Sunfarms, which is a cross between Pineapple God and Pink Kush—Canada’s top-selling flower brand that capitalizes off the notes of nostalgia it hits with its smoke.   

But above all, it was the discussions about what’s working, what’s not, and why that reflect the true Canadian cannabis industry’s collective spirit and its drive for mutual success.

More in Industry Events

To Top