CANNABIS CULTURE – After I learned I’d be covering the 15th annual Spannabis convention for Cannabis Culture, I put out calls to create my own stoney version of the “A” team to assist me on this mission.The FIRST person I contacted was Russ Hudson, the well respected American Cannabis Consultant, Author, and Editor-in-Chief of the site Marijuanagames,org. I knew of him first from his excellent video on VICE.
Russ IS the man to know when it comes to Cannabis Clubs in Spain. If I was going to taste any premium Barcelona bud, he would know where to find it. The Club scene in Barcelona is BOOMING, and Russ is on top of every move and every place in town. He directed me to several elite clubs to visit, and reminded me of the current laws and procedures plus some great tips on how to play it safe in town.
The second call went out to a growing and seed master, “CSH” from the Cannabis Seed Hunter in Amsterdam. He had been there to Spannabis before, and with his 25 years of frontline Amsterdam growing experience, he was squarely on top of all the latest trends in both seeds strains and innovations in the growing industry. Between the two of us, we were going to check out every one of the 200+ exhibitors stretched out over the 48,000 m2 of space and seek out the newest and coolest in smoking, extracting and growing. CSH informs me that he is “IN” on the mission and we schedule ourselves to get into Barcelona a few days early so we can properly explore the clubs before the masses arrive.
CSH was going to fly in and I decided to drive to Barcelona from Amsterdam. It was about a 14 hour jaunt, crossing through Belgium and France before arriving in Spain. It’s a two day trip if you stop in Lyon (8 1/2 hour drive) then finish it off the next day 5 1/2 to BCN + stops along the way. It was raining as I drove through for the 1st half of the journey, but then it became sunny and beautiful the next day. It is a BEAUTIFUL DRIVE through Southern France. I HIGHLY recommend stops in Burgundy and around Avignon and Chateauneuf-du-Pape area for mind blowing delicacies. Don’t miss a stop in Belgium at the Trappist Brewery where they make what is commonly regarded as the greatest beer in the world – Westvletleren 12. This beer is like angels having a party in your mouth. it is a HEAVENLY brew indeed.. They also make their own Pate and Cheese. The trinity of meat beer and cheese will set you free.
Side note: If you drive, on the way in and out you pass through borders, but there is no boarder patrol. HOWEVER, once you go into Spain, at the TOLL stations, it is common to see officers there eyeballing every car. Be smart, be safe my friends. My trunk was searched on the way BACK from Spannabis. More on that later.
Now to be honest I had a few concerns going in about having the language “issue” in Barcelona. I had been there 6 months prior, and although my Google Translate skills were strong, I had come to the realization that my high school Spanish was not going to cut it. Google translate can only do so much… It was a great call going with CSH. On top of being a master grower, he is 6-3’ and is an intimidating presence, equipped with a beautiful version of Catalonian Spanish. BOTH of those assets proved to be essential during our mission.
On the first day we jumped right into checking out the Cannabis Clubs Russ had suggested for us to explore. For our first selection, in search of some Spanish primo, we picked what ended up being our favorite place that we visited overall. Dr. Dou Cannabis Club. Super chill location with a fairly quick membership registration process that took 5 minutes. This same process took up to 20 minutes at some places and included getting a photo and a copy of your passport / citizenship info. One place they asked is to have a medical marijuana prescription, another we didn’t. There seems to be no consistent process for this, same with the COST of the memberships, which ranged from 20 to 35 EUROs for us to get through the door. So being Flexible (and flush with euros) is a big plus here. It really is the “Wild West” here in Barcelona as it was commonly described to us, over and over again.
Wait WHAT? 40 Euro a Gram!?
I am a proud TOP SHELF smoker. Top dollar prices don’t scare me. EVEN NOW I still believe that “The pain of poor quality endures far longer than the sweetness of good price”. But even I was knocked off my seat when I saw the top shelf at multiple cannabis clubs here lined with MOSTLY Cali Strains like Cali Kush and Grease Monkey at 40 EUROs a gram! ( CA$64.34 – $49.50USD) Right off the bat, I knew I would be breaking new personal payout records here. CSH on the other hand was having nothing to do with this imported filet mignon of bud. He dove into some sweet highly recommended local powerhouse
After checking out a couple of the 40 euro samples I asked, “Does it come with a lap dance or SOMETHING?”
Just some excellent imported California primo, the same kind that I had grown up on… (NEVER at 40 Euro a GRAM!) I took in my first couple of hits like a alcoholic getting his first sip of Dom Perignon. Having been smoking nothing but Amsterdam bud for the last year, this was like a breath of fresh air. 40 EURO A GRAM air. I found myself hoarding my 3 grams of Grease Monkey like Ebenezer Scrooge on April 14th. Until we saw our first cool discovery of the trip. STICKY FINGERS.
These little pretties are rolling papers covered with 30MGS of Clear – with a very light lemon terpine that, when combined with my Grease Monkey created a Doobie of Death that crippled us right off the bat.
Russ’s other recommendation for us was the Tresor Cannabis Club – Which was very cool and new. The mural designs and overall “artsy” feel was a big hit. This is SUPER friendly and stylish club that will be on my regular rotation. Loved the Vibe, loved the diverse selections of bud, hash & concentrates. Even though this place is new, it has an experienced chief running the place and it shows. The checkin / membership process ran VERY smoothly the place exudes a mellow vibe that was very enticing. During the next three nights we also visited Dam Square (UGH Never again), Zanzi, Very nice. KYO, also very nice and a Brand New Place – the FireHouse Which literally opened THAT DAY. It really FEELS like the Club business is just exploding there. So many excellent choices!
That first night we decided to take a stroll on “The Romblas” on the way back home, which is the main drag down in the historic district. A VERY IMPORTANT thing to know about visiting Barcelona is that THIS is two VERY different cities. The Daylight Barcelona is historical, beautiful and a travel destination like no other. The NIGHT TIME in BCN can be a sketchy endeavor. The twisting turning alleyways and streets can look like scary sets from the twilight zone after dark, and there is no doubt that the darkness of night brings out a cavalcade of vultures, hustlers and hookers on this street, and foreigners need to STAY WOKE. Even with a 6’3 intimidating force by my side displaying a “fuck off don’t mess with us” attitude to any attempting to trespass our personal space, the amount of potential pitfalls were daunting. If you are blonde haired and blue eyed, here at night you are a target, and your movements need to be managed properly.
Hanging with “ people”
I show up an hour early to try to beat the crowd, only to wind up turned away at the gate by a misinformed rent-a-cop that sent me to the BACK of a another line. LOL rent-a-cop’s are the same everywhere. This time it was no worries for me, because I was with MY PEOPLE. Thousands of cool peeps from all over the globe. Smoking and puffing in line with childlike excitement to see what kind of goodies awaited us. I must have partied with 10 different groups of cool people just waiting in line.
I met “Pat and Kelli” from Dublin, growers who were here for seeds and connections. Next to them was two dudes from Morocco who were there with friends who were there “just to party and get seeds”. A older Spanish gentleman behind me was with his wife, and he said they were there to lean more about CBD oils and medications to help with her recently diagnosed MS. Rastafarians representing multiple cultures sprinkled the crowd to the ever present background sound of reggae beats. There was no stress in the lines. Overall, MOST of the people that I spoke with had SEEDS as one of their main motivations for their visit. It’s no wonder, with no less than 64 different seed companies offering a wide selection of strains, the booty was large for European growers.
Once inside, the most visible of these was Barney’s Farm. Barney’s from Amsterdam is riding a two year high as the Main Sponsor of the event, which includes Spannabis Madrid. (Next one is coming up 5th 6th and 7th of October). Mark Hickman, Marketing Director for Barney’s Farm says the Sponsorship has been a great match for Barney’s. “Spannabis attendees continue to play a important part in keeping the Barney’s brand popular on the EU stage, and events like these give us a chance to showcase our new seeds strains and interact with our customers and fans in this fantastic environment”.
The overall setup of Spannabis is like a giant v-shape with four additional annex buildings attached, one of which hosted the World Cannabis Conferences 2018 sponsored by the (ICBC) International Cannabis Business Conference. The WCC had a wide array of interesting MMJ topics, sessions like “Treatment of refractory Epilepsies”, “Cannabinoids and Neuroprotection” and Medicinal regulation and laboratory Analysis: Increasing powerful cannabis” and the one that caught my attention, “Cannabis al natural: therapies, rituals and the science of the invisible”. UNFORTUNATELY every session I tried to attend was presented ONLY in Spanish, and there was no resources to get it in English. I was told they are “working on making it better” next year for English speaking folks like me. Let’s hope so, because it was the one part of the conference where my “No habla Español” killed me. EVERYWHERE else throughout the expo and conference, English was no problemo.
Quest for the Cup!
In that same area in this annex also hosted the awards ceremony of the 2018 Cannabis Spannabis Champions Cup. This is a pro growers cup series that is duplicated in Madrid every year. This year’s top category winners included:
Prize for the plant sample with the most CBD: Hiydrow by Mercury Morpheus Design
Prize for the vegetable sample with the most THC: GG4 Organic by Soil With Attitude & 059 club
Award to the BHO sample with less total waste: Sweet Valley Flakes by Strain Hunters
3.º PREMIO: Amnesia Haze of Asociación ACECA
2.º PREMIO: Zkittles of The Plug BCN
1.º PREMIO: Z Cube of The Backyard
3.º PREMIO: Herz OG of Exotic Seeds
2.º PREMIO: Glueberry of Grow La Paz
1.º PREMIO: Gorilla of The Next Door
3.º PREMIO: Honey Peach Auto CBD of Sweet Seeds
2.º PREMIO: Chem Beyond Diesel CBD of Sweet Seeds
1.º PREMIO: Fruity Jack of Philosopher Seeds
Extraction category without solvent
3.º PREMIO: Harybo of Life Club Guadalajara
2.º PREMIO: Banana Punch #9 of Symbiotic Genetics
1.º PREMIO: Barbanana Static Drysift of Soil With Attitude & 059 social club
Within a hour after the gates were open, the inside exhibit areas are swamped inside and what looked like a wide open comfortable stroll, turns into a packed hot mess. Companies that set up game promotions with spinning prize wheels, and booths offering resin hits created long lines and forced visitors into packed major pathways. It got seriously tight in a few spots to the point where the need to get outside became a real necessity about every 1/2 a hour, for fresh doobie breaks and to recharge on bites and tunes in the centrum / stage area.
No doubt, the show has something for everyone. After zipping and zagging, puffing and huffing through the 200 booths and 4 annex’s for 3 days, CSH and I picked out our favorites of the show to share.
CSH’s top / coolest product on the growing side. If he had ONE top choice, this won won by a mile. This is the TWISTERT 6 – a “Black Ops” MOBILE Trimmer that fits in a bag, fits in a trunk and can trim 4 lbs a hour. Just wow.
Pro-XL is designed using the latest technology and ingredients available in the professional horticulture industry. The high quality ingredients give the best bio availability for plants and therefor do not leave any residues. The cutting edge formulas are fully adapted to the real needs of the plant in its three phases of development: Root, Growth and Bloom. All micro, macro and “trace elements” are whole and completely available. This is the future…
On the smoking / consumption side, there was a plethora of goodies that caught my eye.
Well Well. FINALLY. With 100 puffs in each canister this beauty kicks out 10mg “shots” straight to your lungs with no heat or combustion. each shot is approximately 6.8 mg of THC so this is a PERFECT delivery system for PATIENTS and responsible consumers who want to regulate their consumption and NOT burn their throat. Marc Emery had the opportunity to try this our first hand on the last day of the event, and as you can see… He liked it!
Notice how Marc saw the medicinal application right away. I see it too. This could be MASSIVE.
Oder elimination system for car or hotel room. On their website the product is described as: “using Terpene Aromatherapy”. This is when one set of terpenes are able to efficiently neutralize another set of terpenes upon interaction of the two.
So, unlike other products that produce an overpowering odour to COVER UP the sweet smell, THIS produce is used to CANCEL the smell. Remember when I mentioned that I was pulled over and my trunk was checked at the boarder? I HUGE Thank you goes out to these guys. JUST SAYING. When they popped my back door on my SUV. IF, I say IF they would have picked up a whiff of sticky icky, I would have been moving on to a very bad day. I can only attest to the effectiveness of this product to the car.
Bottom line for me is… This thing WORKS. The kit they have for a hotel room comes with a plastic shower cap looking partner to the device to make the chances of getting hit with a big smoking charge go away. It’s a trip, when its on, you barely know its there. Since returning back from Barcelona, I gave this a full on Blazer Blast test and hot boxed my car like Inever before, straight out of Cheech and Chongs first flick, and this “Brute Neut” handled it like a warrior.
I owned a pipe just like this a year or so ago, and I let the bowl get too empty one time and when I fired it up, the butane lighter shot down the back of my throat like bad tequila. I was very lucky I caught it early and backed on the hit off or I easy could be know as “Mr. Whispers’ right now.
THIS device however, has fixed that issue completely, and added several cool new elements to make this a must have stealth smoker. They set up an additional barrier between the flame the bowl area and THEN set up the pipe to use these cool 1/2 gram metal tabs (I keep calling them bullets) that you can see, can easily slip in and out as needed. I LOVE the little carry case for the extra bullets. After using it for a week, I have found myself using the one WITHOUT the blaster called the Weezy. To each their own!
Here was another great step into the future… and this one is going to be tasty! I was surprised to see Nathan White from MagicalButter walking through the centrum area carrying this baby. They weren’t a official exhibitor, buy the great people at BOVEDA Humidification packets brought him in to share the innovation. It had just read about it a few days before – and HERE IT IS! This baby is set up to create a easy way to make canna butter and other extractions for cooking – easy and convenient. If you like things neat and clean and If edible your thing, this is going to be a MUST.
This is the coolest concentrate pipe I think I have ever seen. It is still technically a vaporizer, but it is also a long use, battery powered electric smart rig. It’s a beautiful design that looks like Steve Jobs might have designed it. Very cool ceramic and glass design that is designed unlike anything I have ever seen before. Just set up one of the four temp settings for your personal puffing pleasure, flip its switch, drop in a dab of choice and cover the lid. Wait a nanosecond and you are puffing as clean as a whistle. This is such a beautiful pipe, even at the pretty steep price tag, this is coming home to play.
This one looked too titalating to pass by, so I had to take a second look. Turns out this is a new cannabis pleasure oil containing Cannabis SATIVA seed oil, mixed with their own hocus locus which creates this unique lube. According to them, it doesn’t get cold and it doesn’t get hot. It just gets tingly, and for a long time. News at 11.
Wrapping it up with Marc Emery and Spannabis Highlights.
I had read that Marc Emery was going to be visiting Spannabis on Saturday and Sunday this year. On his instagram I had seen that he was just coming to hang out with the people. He had no real schedule to lock down. Just Hanging… I thought that was just so cool. So Marc. Perfect. So I was sure I was going to find him and pick his brain all day. Turned out that Saturday was the absolute peak day of attendance and search as I did, finding Marc in there was like finding a needle in a weed stack. On Sunday, CSH and I were able to catch up with him, just before I had to bail and check out of my hotel. I had like 15 minutes. I had prepped a ton of questions that I was going to ask him but by the time we sat down, I knew I was going to maybe get maybe two questions in. It has been several years prior that I had seen him in Vancouver, and it was apparent to me that he looked extremely happy. “Dude You look good!” I said. “I feel good” he said as he started to roll his joint. He had just come in from some very cool adventures all over South America and I had kinda expected him to be exhausted from all the stops he had been sharing. But instead, he looked like a man who was in his groove. Time for question one…
“I know over the years, you have been to a ton of these types of events around the world. If you were going to PICK ONE to say, ’That’s my favorite” what would it be?
“ExpoMedeWeed” (expomedeweed.com) he said in a flash.
“Whoa that was quick. where is it?” I ask.
“Medellin, Columbia.”He says, “Next one is in November with some of the top scientists and other top people in the industry. They hold it at the Botanical Garden and its absolutely beautiful. Great Expo, Great City, Great venue.”
BAM! One down… now the closer – what ONE piece of knowledge can I pluck from the master… that I think you would want to know.
“What is YOUR favorite Cannabis Club in Barcelona?” I’m feeling pretty great about this question because I am thinking he MUST get invited to every club, every year. surely this man has seen most of the big guns in town.
“NONE of Them” he replied sternly. “I will never support or recommend any of these clubs that allow tobacco usage along with the pure bud.”
“Barcelona and Amsterdam both have the same problem, and that is the insane rite… Habit of mixing cancer tobacco with the herb. The truth is that it ruins the experience for others that don’t smoke and it ruins the herb. They need to call it what it is, an ADDICTION to Tobacco and it ruins the experience and the legalization in Europe will never succeed as long as tobacco is part of the package. It negates the vital ‘marijuana is safe’ mantra that is essential to win over citizens and politicians. If every young person or newbie curious about cannabis is introduced to it via tobacco mixing, it’s a net negative in my opinion. That person would be better off having never smoked cannabis if tobacco is going to be their lifelong addiction from a young age. It’s a European vulgarity and it’s disgraceful.”
I have even had thoughts about opening ‘Marc Emery’s SMOKEPURE Cannabis Club’, I think it would be a big success…” There it was, In 2 minutes, he had just said what I had been thinking since I moved here to Europe 3 years ago. The Master had spoken… and he was right on the money.
It turned out, Marc wasn’t the only “Master” I ran into during the event. I had two other very interesting encounters I think you guys will like. The first one was with RAW PAPER founder, Josh Kesselman. It’s almost impossible to walk by him and not either KNOW who Josh is immediately, like I did, or have a need to ask somebody “Hey who IS that guy” like 50 people who did exactly that to me as they were walking by us. He has a look. The look of success. After just hanging and observing him interact with fans, I saw something pretty cool. A man comes up with a big pack of Raw papers, as many others had done, for him to sign. When he opens up the pack to sign it, his expression switches from joy to serious concern. His eyes squint, and the papers come closer for a critical review.
“Where did these papers come from?” “Are they old?” he asks the man.
“Not that I know of” the man replies.
“Are you from England?” he asks.
He looks closer, holds them up to the light. Rubs them again between his fingers. “These are fakes.” he says.
“What?” says the man.
“See this?” and for the next few minutes he fires off tiny little details about that little piece of paper that would make any CSI Investigator proud. I am pretty sure if he was given the time he could have told you which neighborhood in England the bootleg papers had been manufactured. It was impressive as fuck all the way around. I remember walking away thinking “Dude is absolutely a rolling paper connoisseur, how cool is that!”
The last master I want to mention is a true legend, and someone that many of my North American friends may not be super familiar with. She is affectionately known as “The Grande Dame of Cannabis”. (When Sensi Seeds names a strain after you… You are a legend) When she’s not being a living legend, she is simply one of the kindest ladies ever. She is so well known over here that she goes by one name. Just like, GAGA, or Madonna.
Her name is Michka, and for the last 45 plus years she has been a French cannabis Icon, activist, author and publisher, and I am honored to have been able to meet her. Her books and articles on the many topics around the therapeutic use of cannabis, cultivation, and its historical impact on society have literally paved the way for everything that is happening in the medical marijuana field today. I was familiar with her from her great book “Medical Cannabis – From Marijuana to Synthetic Cannabinoids”. The 5 minutes I spent with her was almost like a religious experience. Her quiet demeanor and all knowing eyes seem to look right into my soul when I thank her for taking the time to sign a copy of her book for me.
I give her one of my cards and tell her that I had just finished writing my first book, reviewing all of the Amsterdam coffeeshops, and she asks me “What was your favorite coffeeshop?” and I tell her that she will have to buy one of my books when it comes out to find out and she gives me a broad smile. “Good Answer” she tells me.
“OK What is your favorite strain then?” she says in just above a whisper.
“Well in your area of Medical marijuana, The strain I hear mentioned the most from people, is Gorilla Glue #4” I answer.
She gives me another big grin and starts to write an inscription into my book.
Did she think I really knew all of what is in her book? Not even close.
But guess what I have been reading everyday since I came home… Yep. Brilliant lady.
Overall kids, I had a BLAST for my first Spannabis, and developed a healthy respect for the city and the people that are driving the Spanish Cannabis industry. It really did feel like we were one big family, and I was the blonde haired step child. We had some great party nights… I even had one night where we “checked In” to a perfectlittle dive bar in town called “The Betty Ford Center”. I told all my friends when I “checked in” on Facebook. “You knew it was just a matter of time…” A MUST stop if you visit.
I was there for a full week, and honestly, I could have stayed another week, just going around to all the top Cannabis Clubs in town. I highly recommend this extended schedule if you want to hit the SUPER PRIMO clubs. You must plan ahead, create your own “A” team if possible. Good timing and local contacts are a massive help here. Even though the language barrier did have a couple of small hangups, the people, the city and the excellent bud make this a killer stop on anyone’s Cannabucket list. Come check it out for yourself & I’ll see you there next year!