Spannabis 2023: The Magic Is Back
Tens of thousands of aficionados flocked to Barcelona to attend one of the world’s largest annual cannabis events.
Upon arriving at the airport for my 6am flight from San Francisco to New York City’s JFK airport, it was easy to spot those joining the next leg of the trip; an overnight flight to Barcelona for Spannabis 2023. Along with its official concurring events, The World Cannabis Conference, International Cannabis Businesses Conference and the inaugural Spannabis Champions Cup, Spannabis is one of the largest, densest and most heavily attended international cannabis events on Earth, bringing together cannabis aficionados from almost every country in the world.
More than 30,000 visitors attended the sold-out weekend event, taking place March 10-12 at Fira de Cornellà in Barcelona. Those without pre-purchased tickets waited in line for up to four hours to secure entry. As European events are often targeted to home-growers, the variety of products and great prices makes these crowds worth it for many. While Spannabis itself is only three days, festivities surrounding the event span all week, including highly esteemed award ceremonies such as Ego Clash, Masters of Rosin and the Secret Session BCN.
In some ways, not much has changed since my last trip to Spannabis in 2017. One thing is clear: The American influence is growing in the European cannabis scene. While plenty of seed banks still focus on traditional genetics, the presence of “American Exotics” is becoming increasingly prevalent. A few popular California brands were also present, including Compound Genetics teaming up with Paradise Seeds; Fidels teaming up with Pure Sativa; Wizard Trees teaming up with Growers With Attitude; and a long-time personal favorite, Symbiotic Genetics teaming up with T.H.Seeds.
“The community was very much alive in Spain and all the surrounding areas that traveled and attended the show,” says Michael Ish, director of operations from The Village & Symbiotic Genetics, who’s making his first trip to Barcelona. “I was pleasantly surprised how much high-end flower, hash and rosin I saw that was grown outside the US. I saw a lot of really nice stuff from Tenerife. The energy had a nostalgic feel of the Prop 215 days where everyone had zero egos and came together to share and show samples and network about the plant we all love.”
I was also happy to see some familiar staples, such as Green House Seed Company, Ripper Seeds, Dutch Passion, and DNA Genetics, along with Royal Queen Seeds, who’s releasing its first-of-its-kind F1 Hybrid Series, which produces a stable, uniform crop every time.
“It’s totally new in the cannabis industry,” says Shai Ramsahai, CEO of Royal Queen Seeds. “They already have some F1 hybrid seeds in the vegetable industry, but it wasn’t in the cannabis industry yet. F1 Hybrid means that all the plants are stable, meaning they have the same yield and the same percentage of THC. We believe that this is a huge game changer in the industry and everyone will grow F1 hybrid seeds in the future, like the big change 20 years ago when we came from regular seeds into feminized seeds. We’re very happy to be the first ones to have the first F1 series in cannabis.”
As I sampled the local selection, I was impressed with the quality overall. One of the main differences I noticed between the European and American cannabis spaces is the presence of hash culture and what that does for the overall treatment of the plant. American cannabis is generally cultivated with the intention of growing really big, beautiful nugs with high THC percentages. In contrast, European cannabis is focused on creating a more resinous plant with higher terpene profiles. So, it’s no surprise that European hash and rosin quality is as high as it is.
Some of the best flower I enjoyed was the Lemon Cured by Los Greengos which won 3rd place in Best Sativa at the Spannabis Champions Cup; the Zkittles rosin from La Sagrada Farms, which took first place in Masters of Rosin; and everything Sativa Engineering was kind enough to share, who also placed in just about every competition. I’m telling you, the bar is higher than one might expect.
Some experts believe that 2023 may be the year Spain sees cannabis reform. The fight for normalization is a just one, but us Californians know how much a regulated market can begin to change things that were just fine the way they were. To echo what The Village & Symbiotic Genetics’ Ish said, the scene in Spain feels so much like visiting the days of Prop 215. Hearing Royal Queen’s Ramsahai speak about the advancements in seed evolution makes my head spin.
Ultimately, being in a place that feels like the past, while also thinking about the future is a wild experience. Surrounded by tens of thousands of fellow cannabis lovers, including some industry legends like Jorge Cervantes and Mila Jensen, aka ‘The Hash Queen,’ Spannabis 2023 was certainly magical.