The thirteenth edition of Spannabis, Europe’s largest hemp, cannabis and “alternative technologies” event was recently held in Barcelona. Spannabis is not only the European cannabis industry’s most established trade fair; it is also one of the most important events for cannabis users in Europe, bringing the sector’s latest developments to the community.
This past weekend Cornella, a suburb just outside of Barcelona, was the venue for cannabis consumers with Jamaican shirts, dreadlocks and a perpetual cloud of pot smoke in tow. Also present were activists, scientists and even attorneys (like me) offering legal advice to cannabis associations. The program included musical performances as well as the Spannabis 2016 Awards for Best Seed Bank, Best Nourishing, Best Hemp Product, Best Product of Paraphernalia, Best utensil crop and Best Stand.
Upon entering the fairgrounds, I was somewhat surprised by the massive number of Spannabis attendees smoking cannabis anywhere they pleased. Smoking inside public buildings is forbidden in Spain and smoking marijuana in public places (outside) is illegal. Yet many were smoking pot in very public places and even smoking indoors. So much for law enforcement in Spain. The local police were standing outside and observing the event, with no incidents as far as I know. Apparently, in the framework of a festival like this, there is little risk of being fined for open consumption or possession of drugs.
The fair had more than 30,000 visitors and hosted about 3,000 professionals, with more than 300 national and international media companies and more than 500 companies represented in about 200 stands. At the stands, companies displayed seeds of all kinds, ceramic filters, pipes, temperature and humidity controllers, organic clothing and more —anything a cannabis consumer could want. Also offered were seeds of all kinds (mostly from Dutch seed banks) and organic fertilizer.
This year’s fair was combined with the third annual World Cannabis Conference. A new feature was the first meeting of Mujeres Cannábicas (Cannabis Women) a newly founded lobbying association. For two days, major industry representatives on both a national (Spain) and international level spoke. The speakers approached marijuana regulation from an international perspective, focusing in large part on legalization’s potential and on its feasibility in various countries.
Much was discussed both on stage and among the participants regarding cultivation, possession and consumption of marijuana (mostly in Spain, but also some about Germany and England and France), and the latest Spanish Supreme Court rulings closing several cannabis clubs at the end of 2015. The court ruled that the clubs’ activities were becoming business activities and could no longer be considered private consumption. There is a fine line right now in Spain between being considered a private club (with limited membership, significant control of consumption, full licensing, etc.) and being considered a business activity.
Many were also talking about Spain’s elections and how that might impact cannabis here. Few were willing to make any bold predictions.
The thirteenth annual Spannabis once again exceeded past events in terms of attendees and everyone seemed to think there were many more foreigners (predominately from elsewhere in Europe, Australia, and North and Latin America) than ever before as well, most of whom were here to explore investing in Europe or expanding their existing businesses here.
I can hardly wait till next year.