Profiles by Cannabiz Social Podcast - Lisa Campbell
In this week’s episode of “Profiles by Cannabiz Social” we speak to Lisa Campbell, who is the Cannabis Portfolio Specialist for Lifford Wine & Spirits. Campbell has been working in the cannabis industry for the past three years, initially breaking in as a drug policy advocate. Her career in the area of drug policy began during her time with Canadian Students for Drug Policy, where she was responsible for outreach and she became interested in cannabis. She founded Women Grow Toronto, a craft cannabis market and networking group to support women entrepreneurs in the space, which is now in its third year.
Campbell is also the founder of a cannabis subsidiary called Lifford Cannabis Solutions. The goal of Lifford Cannabis Solutions is to be field representatives for Canadian cannabis companies, similar to how alcohol companies are represented by Lifford Wine & Spirits. “We want to start out in Alberta. It’ll be the first province we focus on to represent licensed producers, get their products into stores and work with retailers to highlight the most premium cannabis products.”
The topic of Alberta’s AGLC taking on role of wholesaler and how its model compares to Ontario came up during the podcast. “The biggest market for Lifford is Ontario, where we’ve had a monopoly on alcohol for a very long time. The liquor board of Ontario is the wholesaler, but also the retailer. We are pretty used to working with control boards within our business model. We see them as our partners in business,” she said.
“We want to start out in Alberta. It’ll be the first province we focus on to represent licensed producers, get their products into stores and work with retailers to highlight the most premium cannabis products.”
Campbell is excited to work in Alberta, where she spent some time earlier in her career. “After I graduated with my masters, I went to work in Fort McMurray, where cannabis has traditionally not been socially acceptable and drug testing was common. Over the years, the culture has shifted as we get closer to legalization. Having Aurora in Alberta has led to a big cultural shift. My experience between my time back then and now, where Alberta’s leading the charge in the cannabis file nationally is very contrasting,” she said.
Alberta is the most prepared province for legalization. All the recipes for good polices are in place – there are other provinces who could follow their model. Campbell said it’s amazing that Alberta is going for private retail. It’s really important those products are properly listed, as well as properly merchandised and staff are able to communicate the passion that producers have for their products directly to the consumers.
Campbell noted there are federal regulations as well as provincial rules around advertising. “Advertising restrictions will start strict. We can expect once vaporizers, edibles, beverages, extracts all come on board, those non-smoking ways of consuming will have less strict advertising regulations. Once government gets into retail, they’re going to want to market it exactly the way they market alcohol because it’s going to affect their bottom line. Their bottom line goal is the same as any company: to generate revenue.”
Gender parity in the cannabis space is something being talked about in industry. There are a lot of women working in cannabis, but in the leadership positions, there is a lack of women, she said, calling it a “bro-fest” at the executive level.
Campbell predicts that three years, Canada will have full cannabis product diversity and the market will mature very rapidly. We will see more consumers drifting away from their previous grey and black-market habits, opting to purchasing their cannabis in the legal market. The export and import market will be much larger in three-to-five years as well. In the same way we have wine from all over the world, we want to have that regional diversity for cannabis eventually.
“I predict we will have cannabis venues in the next three-to-five years, such as concert halls, cannabis cafes, and restaurants open. One thing remains to be seen is whether people will be able to smoke cannabis publicly, as there are currently strict laws similar to tobacco. From our experience in Ontario with lounges, it’s hard to have a profitable lounge unless that lounge is licensed to serve cannabis. It’s time to take it up a level and diversify our retail so there’s a social setting where people can consume cannabis. There’s a lot of pressure for licensed producers to have these social settings where people can consume in a responsible setting with staff on site.”