Image Courtesy of Bill Griffin

Spannabis is the biggest cannabis event in the European calendar – and possibly one of the biggest in the world.

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Image Courtesy of Bill Griffin

If you are a new company hoping to penetrate the emerging European cannabis market, then attendance at Spannabis is a must. It sounds like I’m working for Spannabis, but I’m not – this is just the situation. There are many cannabis fairs in Europe – and they are all worth attending – but if you are going to go to only one of them, then Spannabis is it.

US Cannabis Technology Hitting Europe

You’ve heard it in every green rush article written – it’s not the gold miners who made millions in the gold rush, it was the people making and selling the picks and shovels. The “pick and shovel” makers of the cannabis world were on display at this year’s Spannabis. Most of the more exciting ones were American companies.

The tools surrounding the green rush are far more advanced than those of the gold rush. Take California Lightworks,for example, who were displaying their high tech LED lighting systems on the stand of Europe’s leading LED distributor – Crazy LEDs & More.

LED has people convinced of their potential but prices had been so high they were not an economical solution for growers. As LED technology advances, the core component of the technology (the bulb) increases its efficiency and reduces costs. Now LED is not just a viable solution, it seems to be the best solution.

California Lightworks, who use LED technology from German manufacturer OSRAM, have lighting systems that are unique in that they split the light into red, white and blue. With an intelligent control system, a grower can tune the light to give a plant exactly what it needs to get the most out of a strain.

Graig Adams, Director of Sales and Marketing of California Lightworks, tells me, “Growers will be able to tune the light to a specific strain. They can then share these settings online for other growers. The tech is already built into the system, we just need to activate it”.

Adjusting the light spectrum of a light throughout the grow means you can give more blue light during vegetative growth and more red light to bulk up the flowers. Finally, you finish it with more blue to get the maximum cannabinoids and terpenes from the flowers. It’s a very efficient way to grow indoors or as a supplemental light for greenhouses. The alternative solutions provide the full spectrum throughout the grow – whether the plant requires it or not.

Legal Market Driving Efficiency

Technology that was on display was not just for cultivation; companies showing off the latest innovations in processing were also in town.

The US recreational market is so competitive that cannabis producers are driven to make the process as efficient as possible in order to compete. In an illegal market, this had not been an issue. The fact that you could produce cannabis was enough to ensure you’d make money. Recreational use in Europe is, for the most part, illegal – and at best, decriminalised. Hence, the technology used has remained stagnant. This gives US companies a huge advantage over European manufacturers who, thanks to politicians out of touch of the impending green rush, have been sleeping at the wheel.

The technology around concentrates is soaring in the states. Rosin Tech, who produce rosin presses for everyone from home users through dispensaries to even larger operations, had their range on display.

In Holland, once the epicentre of the cannabis world, concentrates are seen as a class A drug alongside heroin. This means that to sell a concentrate making machine would probably land the retailer in trouble. It would need to be marketed as a T-shirt press – which obviously will lead to confusion for the end user. This is a typical example of the kind of legislative minefield those distributing in Europe must be aware of.

The Bud Quest

I have been fascinated by rosin – which I see as the purest and best form of concentrate. There are different camps and views on this, but I’m in the rosin camp. The guys on the Rosin Tech stand told me if I brought along a bud they would press it for me. Challenge accepted.

I then spent the next hour or so trying to get my hands on some high quality buds – which, given that I was at a cannabis fair, was surprisingly hard. Everyone I asked instead offered a beer – an irony which was not lost on me. Three beers later and I managed to get my hands on a gram of Wookie from Green House Seed Co. It was originally bought from their very exclusive Strain Hunters Cannabis Club in Barcelona.

If my ratio was three beers for every one gram of weed then I would be crawling back to Rosin Tech if I wanted more than that. I brought along my gram, and they applied an insane amount of pressure and heat and I was handed back a parchment with a splattering of rosin. Their press had separated the good stuff (cannabinoids and terpenes) from the plant material.

I needed a way to sample this good stuff.

Vaporizing Rosin

VapoShop is Europe’s leading supplier of vaporizers for flowers and concentrates. They sell directly to the public through their multilingual website and also distribute to smaller retailers throughout Europe. They take the headache away from US companies who are overwhelmed by the number of languages and cultures they must overcome to tackle the European market.

All the leading US vaporizer companies work with them: DaVinci, Pax, PuffCo, DynaVap, Boundless – the list goes on. They seemed a good place to visit with my freshly pressed rosin.

I asked them what they would recommend for vaping such a concentrate. The solution was a device that looked like a mini lightsaber: The CF710 from Canada-based Boundless. I transferred the Wookie rosin into a silicone container. Taking the 710 (which is “OIL” upside-down, by the way) I inhaled on one end as the exposed heater vaped the rosin. It’s not a dab rig, but essentially doing the same thing.

I might add here – just before I did this “dab”, I had just tested the highly anticipated 2018 DynaVap M with some gorgeous full melt sativa hash. To say I was high at this moment was a gross understatement. In hindsight I think my judgement was a bit off.

First dab of the Wookie rosin went well. I coughed a little as the vapour was coming directly through a device only five inches long and not passing through water. With a little encouragement from the crowd that was forming around I took another hit – this one bigger than the last. Then passed it on.

Spannabis Trainwreck aka The Moment I Learned Not to Dab in Public

I continued to chat with the VapoShop crew on the merits of working within such a great industry. At which point I had an epiphany – everything was alright. I realised in the two years since I had visited Spannabis as a newbie to the industry I had successfully made the transition. Work wise – after 20 miserable years in various multinational corporate communications departments – there was nothing to worry about. I felt a huge relief as this burden of stress was lifted.

The trouble was that as I had this profound insight, my blood pressure subsequently dropped – a lot and way too fast.

Internally I felt fine. Externally, it was a different matter. Unbeknownst to me, I had turned white as a sheet, my lips had apparently changed colour and I had started to sweat profusely.

Not at all cool. My only blessing was that I did not feel nauseous.

Luckily, I was in good hands. I was guided to a space to sit (the floor) and handed a Coke to bring me back around. It seemed that those around me were a lot more worried than I was. I was exhausted, hungry from my day and I had consumed way more THC than I needed at that moment in time.

Thankfully, this all coincided with the show wrapping up for the day, and I joined my new found friends for a wonderful meal at a restaurant in downtown Barcelona.

That night I slept like a baby and awoke feeling reborn, knowing that cannabis concentrates should be treated with the utmost respect.