Kirk: Hey, Trevor, how are you?
Trevor: Kirk, I learned what the word plosive means.
Kirk: Plosive, plosive.
Kirk: Plosive, plosive. OK.
Trevor: We're doing "plosives" right now. So that "PLA" sound.
Kirk: It's a very woody word, plosive.
Trevor: So, I was at the Manitoba podcast fest and we were learning a little bit more about the craft. It was interesting and I learned there's words like plosive. And I also learned our technician, Rene, is a godsend because there's so many things I don't know. I'm really glad we've got someone on the team who does.
Kirk: Reefer Medness, the podcast. I'm Kirk Nyquist, the nurse.
Trevor: I'm Trevor Shewfelt pharmacist.
Kirk: And you just went to the Manitoba podcast festival. I'm sorry, I didn't make it. I was I was celebrating YardFringe and Canada Culture Days.
Trevor: There's lots going on. You know it was fun. I brought my daughter, my niece. We met a bunch of podcasters in Manitoba who are doing lots of interesting things. But I am digressing already. Kirk, who are we talking to today?
Kirk: Today I got a hold of Lift.co. They are sort of the premier Internet reference people.
Trevor: On cannabis.
Kirk: On cannabis. Yes. I kind of stumbled into this. It's nice to have all these interviews we've got in the can. We could produce probably an episode every day if we all didn't have full time jobs.
Trevor: Yeah, damn jobs. Yeah. They get in the way of paying for everything. But this is an interview I stumbled into the Canadian Cannabis Awards were sent out on social media. So, I sent a casual email saying, hey, how do we get our podcast into these Canadian Cannabis Awards.
Trevor: And we are up for an award?
Kirk: No, no, no. They don't even have a category for us.
Trevor: Next year.
Kirk: So as we always seem to end, any conversation when we've been denied is "Hey, about an interview?" And they got back and said, sure.
Trevor: Anyway, we're endeavoring to get this producer up and ready to go before the Canadian Cannabis Awards, because as you'll hear during the interview, you, the regular person out there, can actually vote for your strain of choice.
Kirk: Yes. And this is going to be a quick interview. So, Lift & Co. They're a wonderful company. They're good resource. The industry uses Lift & Co as a resource website is lift.co And I recommend all our listeners go to it. And yeah, let's listen to the interview unedited, I guess.
Trevor: And here we go
Jon: So my name is Jon Kaman, the Chief Revenue Officer here at Lift & Co. I am about six months into the role and getting to get in the deep dive, the full education on cannabis industry.
Pete: And I am Pete Moran the lead instructional designer here. So I helped in the ???? Program in Ontario.
Kirk: Wonderful. Thank you very much for joining us on Reefer Medness - The Podcast. Could you please give us an overview of Lift & Co and what services you provide the cannabis industry in the cannabis user in Canada?
Jon: Sure. Yeah, pleasure. So Lift & co is really defined by a mission to bring brand to consumers in the recreational market today in Canada and ultimately outside of Canada. So all of the services that we provide are really focused on trying to help the licensed producers on the rec side of the market introduce their brand, build awareness and understanding of those brand amongst Canadian consumers. There's definitely an education element of it and help them obviously drive sales. So, you know, kicking off from the different services that we offer. The focus of the business today, which is really sort of emerged over the course of 2019 is on data. Consumer insights. Really trying to help licensed producers understand the Canadian cannabis consumer, who they are, how to define them, what their awareness levels are of the recreational brands in market, what their likes and aptitudes are, and really just trying to hone in on exactly how to reach the Canadian consumer. Our events business is well known in Canada. It's been around. I think we're going into our fourth year of our Toronto and Vancouver Lift Expo and Business Conferences, which attract, you know, sort of whose who within the industry. From a training perspective. We are the sole source provider of training for frontline staff in Ontario and several other jurisdictions to the Yukon across the country. We also work with retailers to make sure that budtenders are well-trained, well versed in the cannabis industry and on the regulations; what they're allowed to say to consumers. We also offer media opportunities, digital media opportunities through Lift.co, which is our consumer facing platform. We get, you know, several hundred thousand users a month from across the country coming to that platform to better understand legal cannabis products. They leave reviews so that they can sort of facilitate that understanding among each other.
Kirk: Very broad. When I when I look at your Web page, you sort of have two distinct presences on the Web. You have the magazine, which is navigating the world of cannabis in Canada. And then you seem to have your user's page where people provide reviews of different products. So you are sort of coming at it from both ways?
Jon: Yeah. I think the, you know, Lift.co endeavors to be just, you know, a broad source of information for the consumer and having that kind of broad spectrum of content on the site, whether it's, you know, product pages tied to reviews, whether it's our forum where users are actually, where consumers are actually swapping, notes on what products they like or on the magazine side, where we're bringing, you know, sometimes industry development and sometimes a bit of a interesting educational aspects of consumption to consumers. It's all really designed to be sort of a one stop shop for the consumer who wants to better understand the market and what products are available.
Kirk: Yeah, it's a very good resource. I recommend our listeners have a look at it. Let's get into how we connect with each other. A little background information. I was looking at your cannabis awards, and I slipped an email asking where Reefer Medness - The Podcast can enter into It's category. This year you don't have a podcast category, but you have a whole bunch of other categories that people can submit their opinions about. Can you explain the award system?
Jon: Yes, I think quite broadly, you know, we want to recognize participants from across the industry that we do have a broad range of categories. They look at, you know, wholesale providers, you know, best products. We look at the retail environment and try to, you know, give participants from across the industry opportunities to show the different and to be lauded for those efforts.
Kirk: So these categories are made up. And I'm looking at. So you got cannabis products, you got organization and people, accessories, retail and cultivation. So how does this work? Do members of your community present what they think should go into the categories?
Pete: So we reached out to the community to get different nominations for which products, services and people they thought best fit into these different categories. So for all of the main categories on our "entrepreneur of the year," "startup of the year," and different retail accessories and cultivation, which is a panel of experts that includes some fairly well-known names like Jon Fowler and Trina Frazier, who are evaluating all the different entries and choosing which ones of those are going to be the best company or best person to represent those different categories. And then on the actual products, we think it's a lot more important to get the consumers value for the different products and things that are out there in the market. So the best way to be a part of that is consumers right now, up until October 24th, can go on Lift.co And if you leave a review for Strain that you like or you submit a receipt and actually go into our algorithm to help decide what the top Strains were for the year.
Kirk: It's very interesting way handling awards. So it's really coming from the consumer as well as the expertise of the industry.
Pete: Yeah, well, they're the experts on the products and which ones are performing the best in the industry. We have Lift & Co so that people can go and they can share their experiences and what they like about the different strains and what those effects were. So we have this great resource of all this user feedback and always considered feedback for all these different Strains. So we can pull on that data and be able to figure out what people really like and what they're talking about in the industry.
Kirk: So how long has the Canadian Cannabis Awards been offered?
Jon: Yeah, this is our sixth year hosting those awards. They've changed somewhat over time. But it seems to keep growing in awareness and an important year after year.
Kirk: So of course, we've been one year into legalization. So before, the first five, was it strictly medicinal use of cannabis? The awards.
Jon: Yeah, that's right. That was the focus prior to legalization. And now I think the focus has really kind of shifted towards the rec market.
Kirk: So how has that changed the process of you launching an award system? Do you now have two streams? You have the recreational stream and the and the medicinal stream.
Pete: People can submit nominations for both recreation and medical products, so both are competing head to head for any of the awards based on the different product awards. So because the Lift platform serves both consumers on the rec side and the medical side and both can submit the receipts, both can leave reviews for strictly their medical strains or recreational strains. And then we get to compare with, and from everyone on the industry and get to showcase that forward. Medical definitely been a huge part of the awards program up until now. But now with all these new products that are coming out in Rec, we really wanted to make sure that they got their voice as well without diminishing what those medical users have to say.
Kirk: Wonderful. And so you have your judges as well. So how do the judges there verify the votes and how do they participate in these awards?
Pete: So the judges themselves are participating in the Product Awards. Like our top Indica flower or our top sativa flower or any of the oil. They're focusing more on some of the other categories, such as cultivation, accessary, and retail. So they've taken all of the submissions people have submitted for the different products, whether it's Top Trimmer or top Testing Lab or even think they're a little bit more consumer focused, like the top vaporizer or the top home growing box. And we have a wide variety of people who are on a judging panel, whether it's cultivators, budtenders or even just other people who are working in the industry. And they take their expertise, and because we have such a huge panel that's looking at it, we can look at it from a bunch of different angles and aggregate all the scores to figure out what the best product in each one of those categories is going to be.
Kirk: Okay, good. All right. So overall, how does this help the cannabis industry. Having awards, having judges, having I guess you're going to have an awards night. A gala. How does this all help?
Jon: Yeah, I think, you know, it's a way for Brand, you know, thinking back to sort of Lift's mission to educate the consumer and help bring brand to market. I think this is a great source of differentiation for brands. If they can get recognized by the industry, by their peers and by the consumer at large for the quality and sort of what that brand stands for. I know that that's, you know, obviously a key motivating factor for a Licensed Producer partners. And it does get recognized at the retail level at that point of differentiation.
Pete: Yeah, I think this is a great opportunity to recognize the people that we're putting in all that great effort and coming up with these amazing products across the industry. Whether it's the medical products that consumers are finding a really helping them with what they're consuming for or whether it's the right products or people are finding just great flower products that they really like. This is a great chance to be able to rise up all those great people who are contributing, whether it's the organizations or companies who are doing it great, or whether it's just a different product from the industry that they can raise awareness. So a lot of people to champion the things that they love and share that experience with everybody else.
Kirk: So now how are winners announced? Do they get bragging rights? Do they get a little statue or plaque? How are they announced and how are they recognized?
Pete: So we have our Canadian Cannabis Awards event. This year is taking place in Toronto. So that's where we announce all the winners for all the different categories. And of course, you can always follow that in social as well. And they do get a nice little trophy to walk away from. It is interesting to see all the different groups come up on stage and talk about what went into producing this great product. So it is a really great event. I had the pleasure of going last year and it was just incredible. Everybody, get up on stage and talk about not just the, you know, exactly, but may have been driving some of that change, but all of the people from cultivation QA everything that really went into those different products.
Kirk: Wonderful. And when is the gala?
Jon: On November 8th.
Kirk: And who can attend and how do you get tickets.
Jon: Yeah. So attendees typically members of the industry, they will either call us for tickets to the event. It is sort of a seated event. We're obviously calling our industry partners to make sure that, you know, those who are up for awards, those who want to participate, can be there in person to accept their awards and to celebrate the industry.
Pete: You know, I think what we do endeavor to do is, you know, following the awards gala, make sure that we highlight award winners on the Lift.co so that our community can understand, you know, who won and who sort of got set apart.
Kirk: So winners get bragging rights for a traditional type of media. There'll be a media release about who won what. So that all get out in traditional media as well.
Jon: That's right. That's right. And they also get to leverage that, you know, the Canadian Cannabis Award symbol branding onto their packaging. And we've seen many of them follow suit and do that.
Pete: Still plenty of time for people who, if they haven't gotten in a submission and they haven't checked that was going with the award. They can go to Lift.co and leave the review and upload their receipts to make sure that their voice is heard as part of the Canadian Cannabis Awards.
Trevor: So you did a really good job and I found that really informative. Honestly, I didn't know all the things that Lift & co did.
Kirk: They're a good resource there. They are the premiere Canadian resource found at Lift.co. You know, we do this podcast. You went you to a podcast festival. Did they talk about how to bring in sponsors?
Trevor: They said that sponsors are good. One guy even got a fancy microphone paid for by his listeners.
Trevor: So that, you know he received $400 from his listeners. Good for him. But we have a actual sponsor named Strainprint.
Kirk: Yeah, Strainprint. They are a Cannabis software company that offers opportunities for patients to put their cannabis information into it. You know how many conversations I have with people since the local newspaper put us on the third page?
Trevor: How many Kirk?
Kirk: Oh, seven. I have had People stopped me in the street and say, you're doing that Reefer Medness podcast? I said, yes. And then they want advice from me. And I always seem to say, you know what, go to Strainprint.ca download the software, learn how to consume cannabis carefully and thoughtfully.
Trevor: Yeah. And we've said it before. We'll say it again. It's like a diabetic log. The app goes right on your phone, really easy to use. And that is a great way to find out how your cannabis is working for you.
Kirk: And they also have a community of people. So you can participate in question and answers. You can participate with people, like minded people who are there to learn and teach you about how to consume cannabis responsibly and carefully and treat it like a medicine and treat it like it is something that affects you because it has an effect. Strainprint.ca.
Trevor: Strainprint.ca And if you would like to sponsor Reefer Medness, like, let's say, Prairie Supply Co did on the Phil Gaimon episode.
Kirk: Episode Phil Gaimon - High Climbin’ Gaimon - episode thirty five.
Trevor: Get a hold of us. Probably easiest to find us on the website reefermed.ca. Send us, send us a note from there.
Kirk: And if you listen to that episode, episode thirty-five you will hear how you can benefit as a Reefer Medness podcast listener. You can benefit by buying online with that company. Also we have another company did the same thing in S3E9 - The Mood Makers is another company. If you listen to that episode, you also benefit from being a Reefer Medness listener.
Trevor: So many benefits from listening to the podcast.
Kirk: Not just increasing your intelligence.
Trevor: Or knowledge.
Kirk: So you know, you Strainprint, but also, you know, go speak to a cannabis friendly doctor. And once again, if you go back to one of our episodes, S3E5, you'll meet a Manitoba doctor, Dr. Shelley Turner, who's canna-positive and is exclusively a cannabis doctor. So she can also help you understand how to use your cannabis as medicine. So please, if you're out there and you interested, talk to the people who know and get educated.
Trevor: So do you have any music this week?
Kirk: We do. And we're going to pass the buck to our producer, Rene again, not that he has any more work that he needs from us, but we always try to finish with music. And for those that haven't figured it out yet, if you listen to the end of the music, there is a prize.
Trevor: You can't tell them about the Easter egg. It's a secret.
Rene: Well, it was a secret anyway, for music, guys. Prairie whiskey. They're all from Dauphin. I believe Albert Lariviere is in there. Yeah, all the guys Dauphin people. Dauphin Manitoba, which is where we're from. The song is "Make You Move" and there you go. That's another good one.
Trevor: OK, we've been Reefer Medness - The Podcast. There's been another good ones. Kirk will hopefully have Lift & co come back and we'll chat with them again.