The international cannabis industry is alive and well, as evidenced by the prestigious Spannabis conference in Barcelona, Spain. In its 19th year, the show welcomed industry and consumer representatives to the Fira de Cornellà. The show heralds primavera (the start of spring) as the international cannabis conversation blossoms along with the flowers.
This year the exhibition was attended by more than 500 companies, 25,000 participants from 50 different countries. It is estimated that this large-scale event will bring $8 million to the local economy. What Spain lacks in regulation, it makes up for in heart. Here you can feel the excitement and passion of the weed industry.
Cannabis cultivation is possible in Spannabis. It is a crowded and lively showroom representing all growers, hash growers and business owners in the world of weeds, hemp and by-products. It was the most attended B2C event I have ever attended.
Chelsea Kosauer, Vice President of Global Development at Puffco, is driving the international growth of one of the world's largest e-cigarette companies. She became the brand's first employee. "I do it with pleasure. It's like a start," she says. "What I like about Barcelona is that it's safe to smoke here. You're not in an alley. You don't have to go outside like in all markets in the US. This is how it should be.I fill the Proxy Team with the best GWA water hashish in a safe place and sip my cappuccino.
Cosaver traveled to Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Amsterdam and Portugal before heading to Spannabis, and this is not the end of her tour. Kossauer will preach the Puffco gospel in South Africa, San Diego's real Carmen hashish.
"We're growing as fast as hashish," says Puffco founder and CEO Roger Valodarsky. “It's one thing to sell Puffco products. It's one thing to be a mainstay and manually push hash innovation. Spannabis is an event that everyone in the world comes to at the same time. It looks like the global community of cannabis enthusiasts will finally be growing, meeting, networking, returning home and growing in their individual market. It's the most alive thing I've ever seen. And I think this is a good harbinger of what's coming in the world for the international market. He blooms.
Pedro, owner of Social Club Dank Grass and Grateful Seeds, has been with Spannabis for 6 years. He says it has been “a very busy year, like every year. It's big, it's more connected to the community," he says. "It's a completely different atmosphere. The community is the spirit of cannabis. It really represents the spirit of the cannabis movement in Barcelona. Once I was a pioneer, now we live with the flow.
Barcelona is a city of manufacturers. Members of the European cannabis community are flocking to Barcelona. Barcelona-based industry veteran Giuliana Fehy is the co-founder of the Ego Clash Invitational, brand ambassador for UK-based Product Earth and Puffco's global expansion partner. This year Ego Clash took place in a medieval castle built in 1829.
“We try to be transparent and real because what we want to offer is a truly unique experience for the community that will help normalize cannabis use in Spain,” Fahi says. Thanks to innovations like Puffco, the cannabis community can go to places that weren't possible before, like the castle.
Brandon Parker of Sonoma County, California is the third generation founder of the family farm. He says he is honored to have his own booth, as Spannabis has a 5-year waiting list for exhibitors. “I'm happy to be here,” Parker says. “All the people are very nice. I like to ask everyone where they are from because everyone has a story. If you made it all the way to Spain and somehow ended up here, then you have a reason to be here. This is a special case. You must be far-sighted, have faith and understand what you are doing in order to maneuver in this country.
On the Spannabis floor, you'll find some of the best breeders in the world selling seeds, CBD vapes, or technology limited to what's allowed by law. A carnival atmosphere reigns outside, a mixture of dust and grassy smoke blows around. Vendors pour beer, slice Iberian ham, and costumed Weed characters pose for pictures with patrons.
Social clubs hidden in plain sight
The cannabis infrastructure in Barcelona is hidden and extensive, with over 300 clubs throughout the city. The energy is more paranoid than anywhere else I've reported on or before legalization. There is so much history here. Lots of busy streets full of bars to really see the thriving cannabis scene hidden under the gothic façade.
You find the best social clubs through word of mouth, not through Google. They are only open to private memberships, which usually cost around 20 euros. One of the most popular social clubs I've come across is the award-winning GWA Social Club, which stands for Growers With Attitude. Located next to Gaudí's masterpiece, Sagrada Familia, GWA offers its private members access to organically grown weeds.
La Kalada, Terpy, HQ Barcelona and Terps Army are among the best social clubs in the city. They have an extensive local and international menu, even Terps Army's Kali menu, which includes varieties from Fidels Worldwide and Doja Pak, to name but a few.
You must smoke inside, not outside, otherwise you will be fined by the local police for drinking alcohol in public places. In the smoky, windowless caves, visitors are forced to stay indoors, and the walls are usually adorned with local street art.
The Spanish industry exists on the gray frontier, one of the few countries in Europe where it can thrive in personal care. Because of this, manufacturers are less likely to enter the market. Some of the continent's best producers call Spain home. RTZ Rootz founder Sam came from England to open his growing and social club on the Spanish island of Tenerife. His grass took first place in the Tenerife Cup last year (next 04/20/2023).
It's easy to feel like a lost toy in a vast sea of weed information. Dirty and gloomy as it transitions from the medical and private club industry into the mainstream. To find the gems, you must go deeper into the haunted alleys. If there are shop windows on the street, usually with names like "Hemp Shop" or "Cannabis", they don't sell hemp, but rather CBD and synthetic cannabinoids. They are scattered throughout the tourist areas. If you are looking for CBD, this might work. But there are much less regulated synthetic cannabinoids on the shelves that can be dangerous for consumers.
Panel "Women in Hemp" shines
Women should have more space in a male-dominated industry. Time. There is no better example of this desire to balance the sacred feminine and masculine than the women's group at La Kalada Social Club.
“I love creating a safe space for everyone,” Fahey says of the Women in Hemp panel. “Women in Cannabis is a group open to all. It's not just for women, it's women for everyone. We strive to share the vision that women will feel safe in our space. There is power. This is more than what you are working on: what is your vision? What are your next projects?
Panellists shed light on education and safe production practices. Here, women take their place in the industry, telling consumers what to look for in a sea of confusing and bleak information.
“Cannabis is a plant that always gives and returns,” says Maya Elizabeth, founder and CEO of Om Wellness, a California-based cannabis brand that offers bath salts, nutritional products and more. Elizabeth founded Om Living in 2008. “Every type of cannabis has its time and place. We believe that cannabis is a superfood.
The group of influential women who use cannabis included Ellen Holland, editor of The High Times; Julia Chiariello, editor of Skunk magazine; Nikita Vora from UK, part of England's largest pure sativa distributor; Sarah Jane, hashish sommelier; Elise McRoberts, Hashinista; Tabata Neder, originally from Portugal and founder of Hermandade Gaia in Brazil; Jessica, aka Frosty Nug Lady, co-founder of award-winning California hash company Frosty Nugs; Marta Luján, cannabis advocate and lawyer from Spain; Duchess Dunk, a well-known hashish producer from the USA; Alice Reis, Brazilian lawyer and hashish producer who founded Girls In Green, Wooksauce Winery and others.
“Never give up,” says Maria Marimbera, owner of Toermalijn Café in Tilburg, the Netherlands. She led her social club for 33 years. “Keep fighting. You can take three steps forward and one step back. The rules are getting stricter. But we are making progress. Social life is very important. To all women and cannabis users: don't stop.