Reflections from Barcelona: Spannabis 2017

Spannabis 2017 was a massive gathering of international cannabis enthusiasts from all around the world.


Once a year, the long and narrow streets of Barcelona are flooded by cannabis enthusiasts from far and wide, who travel there to celebrate their love and appreciation for Mary Jane.

Spannabis and the World Cannabis Conferences have been called the biggest cannabis expo in the world. With more than 30,000 visitors and 500 vendors in attendance, it rivals even 2016’s Emerald Cup in Northern California.

They say it isn’t good to make comparisons, but it’s something I do constantly. While cannabis events have a few obvious similarities, European events seem to have a different focus than what most of us are used to in the states.

As I entered the main building of a huge 8,300 square meter fairground, I noticed one of the most impressive differences; the size and construction of the booths. While the three smaller tented areas had plenty of traditional-feeling booths, the main building housing most of the event sponsors had been turned into a small city: each booth was almost like its own building, requiring individuals to walk into their space rather than just walk up to it.

Everyone was friendly and eager to talk about the products they were carrying. Some had games you could play for prizes, and there were freebies with almost every seed purchase.

Glass display cases filled with awards and merchandise appeared to be at every booth. Cultivating for seeds rather than consumption can take a lot more time, especially when working towards genetic stability. Some breeders — like DNA Genetics, Sensi Seeds, Greenhouse Seed Company and Barney’s Farm — have been sharing their genetics and creating new varieties for decades, providing the global cannabis community with the pungent scents and delicious flavors we’ve all grown to love, such as Sour Tangie, Skunk #1, Super Lemon Haze and Triple Cheese.

Almost all of these constructed spaces had a lounge area. Some were private and some were public, but they all certainly added something to the atmosphere — definitely more smoke.

Which leads me to another contrast between European and American events; consumption. Since the sale of cannabis must be behind closed doors and out of the public eye, booths were not selling flowers, hash or anything smokeable. Although this year I did notice some booths were handing out dabs, which I didn’t see much of last year. People still had no problem smoking openly, rolling up joints wherever they could find space. Thankfully security didn’t seem to mind, which is also a bit different from last year’s event.

A long line at an expo normally means there’s something free at the end of it, and while that was also true at Spannabis, there was still a key difference. In the states, it’s normal to a find long line of people waiting to take a dab or receive a free gram. We don’t really think of how fortunate we are to have other people grow our weed for us.

In most of Europe, people grow their own flowers, so people waiting for their opportunity to win free seeds or receive fertilizer samples makes much more sense. The focus on cultivation was huge, with almost 40 percent of booths dedicated to cultivation equipment and nutrients.

Advanced Nutrients, General Hydroponics, Gavita Lighting and Trimpro were some of the recognizable names seen at this year’s event. Grow tents and nutrients seemed to be the biggest hit, while extraction equipment and trimming machines were looked over.

For those who wanted more information, the publishing company Mama Editions carried educational books on cannabis cultivation as well as literature on hydroponic cultivation, the medical benefits of cannabis and even children’s books on organic farming. Each book was available in at least four different languages so almost anyone could read them.

Jorge Cervantes was seen at their booth signing his Cannabis Encyclopedia, which is self-published but on sale through Mama Editions.

Barcelona was amazing. I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Strain Hunters Club and Originals BCN, two cannabis social clubs where we had access to insanely reasonably priced flower, hash, BHO and safe places to smoke.

Getting into a cannabis social club in Barcelona can be a lot of work: a member must vouch for your entry, and memberships requires residency and a yearly fee. I could smoke joints on the balcony of our hotel, but it was nice to be able to dab.

This was my second time visiting Barcelona and attending Spannabis, and I was just as impressed as I was last year. I have so much respect for people who grow their own weed out of necessity, not just as a pastime. The feeling of camaraderie when you hear seed breeders telling cultivators “come back next year, show me photos of your plants!” reminds me of why I love this community so much to being with.

Americans could learn to focus less on the status that comes with buying the best flower or the most potent concentrates — I think we would have a greater appreciation for cannabis if we had a deeper relationship with it.

So love your cultivators, and realize the long line of people who went into creating what you may be smoking right now. Competition is fine and drama happens, but let’s not stray away from the goal at hand: helping each other find relief through cannabis and ending the stigma against this community.

TELL US, have you been to Spannabis?

Stoney Xochi has been creating cannabis related content on social media since 2010, and has used cannabis therapeutically since her teens. Her writing has been featured in SF Evergreen as well as her own website, stoneyxochi.com. Born and bred in Northern California, Xochi hopes to use her talents as a writer and photographer to create an honest and open conversation about cannabis and our relationship with it.

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