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Cannabis Festivals a Reality?

When I think back to my favourite Albertan summers, most memories can be traced to a live entertainment event.

My summers in Edmonton are walking with friends down the line of stalls, sampling every delectable bite at the Taste of Edmonton, or basking in the sun enjoying the musical tunes of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. There are my trips to Calgary, two-stepping with a cold beer after the Calgary Stampede Rodeo or feeling the electricity of the music among a crowd at Chasing Summer.

Like me, I am confident that some of your best memories include live entertainment. Alberta is a talented host for in-person entertainment which plays a vital role in Alberta’s economy. According to the Alberta Live Events Coalition, the industry creates approximately 35,000 direct jobs and makes $4 billion in GDP contributions. Now looking at the almost $470 million in sales from the Albertan cannabis industry last year, imagine the possibilities of cannabis live events and festivals.

Diplomat Consulting is excited to share that cannabis live events and festivals could soon be a reality. As a leader in cannabis-related regulatory foresight and advocacy, our team is enthusiastic about working with our strategic partners, including the AGLC. Through a collaborative effort, we will navigate regulatory hurdles and challenges—all the while laying the groundwork to (fingers crossed and a lot of hard work, too) bring an event to Edmonton at the end of the summer.

Taking a Creative Approach

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the global entertainment industry tremendously. Live entertainment has faced many challenges, including venue closures, cancelled events, festivals and performances, and operating restrictions. According to a forecast report by Deloitte, in-person entertainment—as well as the businesses and venues that rely on it—will face more significant pressure to create unique experiences that differentiate from those in a person’s living room.

Courtesy of Chasing Summer Festival

Now imagine those favourite Alberta festivals, concerts, sporting events, and other experiences a bit differently. It’s +24 degrees outside. It’s a beautiful day with your friends. You’re walking to an outdoor concert. You pull out your phone and order cannabis right to the venue. You enter the cannabis tent onsite to consume it. Would that change your experience?

As the cannabis sector evolves, regulatory changes will be required at all levels of government.

The Government of Alberta and Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) have not yet developed regulations for cannabis lounges or cafes. As such, cannabis consumption lounges or cafes are not allowed in Alberta.

Alberta can be a leader on the world stage and an example of regulatory excellence for other provinces to follow if elected officials and policymakers embrace the opportunity in front of them.

A Musician’s Perspective

Like other industries disrupted by the pandemic, the live entertainment industry recognizes the need for innovation to revitalize the entertainment scene. Capitalizing on the opportunities that legal cannabis presents is of interest to artists like Raine Maida, frontman of Our Lady Peace. He explains, “The music itself is changing rapidly, and people are excited to be in front of artists they love.”

Adding cannabis to live entertainment spaces impacts how artists create and design their shows and consumers experience these revitalized spaces. It makes new ways for consumers to experience the art they love.

For artists, cannabis opens the door to contemporary artistic expression.

As Raine Maida explains, “On a visual level, we’ve always thought of that anyway. Most artists would tell you that. It’s about escapism and a journey. This is a much better fit with many artists.” Allowing cannabis at venues gives artists a new way to explore their art and the audience new experiences.

Unlocking New Revenue Streams

Furthermore, cannabis unlocks new revenue streams for the industry. Diversification of revenue opportunities is particularly relevant when considering the road to recovery for the culture, arts, entertainment, and recreation sectors.

Creating opportunities for venues to sell a variety of cannabis products, including cannabis beverages, allows events to meet a diversity of consumer needs outside of inebriants like alcohol. Similar to alcohol, cannabis can be used to augment live entertainment experiences while providing a source of revenue to venue owners and sponsors.

These opportunities will allow for revisions to current legislative frameworks and regulations for alcohol consumption sites rather than creating new rules.

Including cannabis in the entertainment industry will not only help the sector recover financially but allow it to thrive creatively. Adding cannabis to live entertainment is the right decision for everyone involved and puts consumer choice first.

Main image courtesy of Our Lady Peace.

Tags: AGLC (36), Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (12), cannabis festival (4), cannabis live event (4), cannabis lounge (2), Diplomat Consulting (3), Nathan Mison (12)