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CannabisFest: 'There's an unbelievable opportunity in the cannabis sector'

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CannabisFest: 'There's an unbelievable opportunity in the cannabis sector'

Exclusive one-day gathering in Montreal is targeting cannabis entrepreneurs and is aimed at startups, investors and partners.

Updated: July 4, 2018


"Even in progressive areas, people still have an enormous amount of stigma towards their own personal use of cannabis," says Pamela Hadfield, co-founder of HelloMD. DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS


The only headaches Pamela Hadfield might experience these days come if her three young girls are talking incessantly simultaneously.


Hadfield, 45, suffered from debilitating migraines for 25 years — that is until she spent six months taking non-psychoactive cannabis products to manage, and ultimately prevent, the pain. She hasn’t had a migraine since, and that was almost five years ago.


“Even in progressive areas, people still have an enormous amount of stigma towards their own personal use of cannabis,” Hadfield told the Montreal Gazette Tuesday by phone from her San Francisco home. “We’re extremely progressive here. Yet people call me … people I know, my neighbours. They say, ‘don’t tell anyone that I’m considering using cannabis.’

“Cannabis is everywhere. It’s not like it’s a new kid on the block.”


Hadfield is a tech entrepreneur and the co-founder of HelloMD, an online community of health and wellness cannabis consumers. She initially launched her company in California more than four years ago as a service to connect medical cannabis patients with doctors from the privacy of home, but has since expanded to include community, educational content and product sales.


Hadfield will be in Montreal next Tuesday, one of eight scheduled speakers participating in CannabisFest — an exclusive one-day gathering targeting cannabis entrepreneurs intended for startups, investors and partners, taking place at Parc de Dieppe and being sponsored by HelloMD.


The night before, she will be a special guest of Ellementa Montreal, which is launching a monthly gathering for women around cannabis as it pertains to health, wellness, self-care and caregiving.


“It’s such a new environment. This is such a dynamic industry that’s changing day by day. That’s just the nature of the beast,” Hadfield said. “The people we’re attracting are the people that are involved in the industry. There’s also a tremendous amount of interest from entrepreneurs in all shapes and sizes, young to old, about what’s going on in this industry, how can I get involved or just general curiosity.


“You’re opening up the curtains and allowing people to see behind them and see what’s really going on.”


On June 20, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canadians will be able to consume marijuana recreationally without criminal penalties as of Oct. 17, months later than the government’s initial target date. Hadfield launched a Canadian site six months ago, created a medical funnel three months ago and is now seeking office space in Toronto while hiring personnel.


The recreational sale of cannabis is allowed in nine U.S. states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — along with the District of Columbia. Another 21 allow some form of medical cannabis, while 16 permit a lesser medical cannabis extract.


Recreational cannabis first became legal in the U.S. in 2012.


Navigator Ltd., a Toronto-based public strategy and communications firm, found 42 per cent of Canadians are in favour of legalization, while 38 per cent are opposed, according to an online survey last February of 1,200 respondents age 19 and older. However, in June 2017, a similar survey found support was at 47 per cent.


Coming to CannabisFest for the second time in three years, Hadfield said, will “put us more on the map. We really want to establish our presence. This is a good opportunity for us to connect with many different partners who are already connected, along with new people. It’s great brand exposure.


“You’re opening up the curtains and allowing people to see behind them and see what’s really going on.”


Meanwhile, the women’s event Monday evening at 6 (642 de Courcelle St., Suite 301) is being hosted by Montreal’s Dr. Andrew Kerklaan, founder of an eponymous line of non-psychoactive, cannabis topical creams designed for pain management, insomnia, PMS and skin care that utilizes the healing properties of powerful plant extracts. He works closely with biochemists and his products have been available in California since last September. They’re also available on the HelloMD website.


Kerklaan, who studied engineering at McGill before becoming a chiropractor, has devoted 20 years to the study of pain management; specifically, why cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) — the compound that has significant medical benefits without the high of feeling stoned — are compatible with the human body.


He treated a female patient in her 80s suffering from fibromyalgia who was in tears until receiving a prescription for medical cannabis. Two weeks later, she was relaxed, happier and, most important, in less pain.


“It was a massive eye-opener that someone in that age bracket would go to that extent to get some relief,” Kerklaan said. “It was January and she literally was smoking a joint on the balcony.

“There’s an unbelievable opportunity in the cannabis sector.”


CannabisFest is part of the five-day Startupfest Montreal.


For more details visit startupfestival.com





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