Like the naughty chicks and bunnies on an Easter card, spring is crawling all over us. We are a furtive, twittering mass of renewal. And when we’re not hatching, blossoming, bleating or chirruping we’re doing one over to Barcelona for de flipping Spannabis. Setting a Catalonia amongst any lingering pigeons of winter is what Spannabis is all about, it’s a refreshing blast of cultivation life and no mistaking. You desire culture, cultivation, business people, leisure people – then set your cap to the “head and hearth of Catalonia”.
Unlike Spannabis in previous years, the 2019 incarnation of the show got off to a power-pack start. Incredible numbers thronged the Feria De Canamo right from the get-go on Friday, usurping the tradition of a relatively quiet opening. Cross-pond attendance on the part of Canadian, US and Latin American firms and entrepreneurs was particularly strong. One unshakeable impression, borne out by enquiries on our stand, was that the levels of affluence and financial backing wielded by attendees was unrivalled in recent memory.
Our show team really were upstanding this year. Their devotion meant our stands standing was understandably deemed outstanding. Standoffishness from bystanders was never a factor such was the standard of presentation and the warm welcome on standby. This welcome remained of an exceptionally high standard notwithstanding the astounding number of visitors. All our U.K. reps flocked to the show to whisper the intimate secrets of our systems into a veritable sea of ears, with bodies attached. Plaudits to Charlotte Miller (U.K. North), Dan Dozzini (U.K. South) and Michaela Smith (U.K. and Int. Business Development). Dave Gulliver our International Sales Manager (almost literally) sang like a Nightingale for our commercial visitors day-in-day-out, beguiling them as he melodiously extolled the virtues of AutoPot cultivation. Unmissable in her home fixture Elena Perez, our Spain and Latin America Accounts Manager, powered away like a Hummingbird, beating her wings of convo’ ceaselessly. Exploring the migratory habits of short haul airliners for the first time in 15 years Benjamin Biggs swooped forth to join us from his nest at AutoPot commercial R&D centre. And then, in a blaze of pageantry, enter AutoPot auteur and MD Jason Ralph-Smith, a man for whom a relentless programme of advising on irrigation is simply a matter of water(ing systems) off a duck’s back.
Whilst the atmosphere at Spannabis may seem liberal it doesn’t quite equate with the legal situation regarding cultivation in Catalonia or indeed Spain. In terms of cultivation much relies not on legality but on decriminalisation and loopholes. The resulting situation may please some advocates. For others the situation denies Spain the opportunity to explore and advance the full medical, commercial, and economic potential of cannabis.
In Catalonia, as in all of Spain, the government does not prosecute the personal and private consumption of cannabis. Personal cultivation is not prosecuted as long as it is provably for personal use and out of public view. In practice this position has allowed those seeking to cultivate cannabis for personal medicinal purposes to do so, or at least, it has ceased to criminalise them. Meanwhile, the government simultaneously deems it illegal to sell cannabis and has taken no position on regulation. A number of medical cultivation licences have been granted but no one really knows how many and to whom.
The legal positions surrounding cultivation in Spain are difficult enough to navigate on an individual level. Beyond that, a lack of clarity in the government’s stance on cannabis has attracted criticism in terms of potential economic cost. Some argue that, essentially, Spain’s role in an important international growth sector is at risk. Despite Spain’s cultural significance in cultivation and its material value in climate and seed banks, the country may well be left out of the booming global marketplace unless the government arrives at a coherent, nationwide policy. Others argue that the lack of such a policy deters rampant commercialisation of cannabis cultivation. Whilst no one is keen to see commercial opportunism override legitimate concerns, the grey areas of decriminalisation (in lieu of actual of regulation) do tend to undermine full legitimacy, proper research and perhaps a potential area of economic growth. This halfway-house is doubly frustrating given the relatively relaxed attitude to undefined private consumption which a regulated supply could serve to properly control.
Ironically Spannabis attracts a huge European and International audience, many of whom are licensed growers from countries that have legalised commercial cannabis cultivation and use. The scale of Spannabis, the level of industry attendance and the massive number of public visitors from around the world are testament to the cultural significance of cannabis in Spain. There can be little doubt that given the right conditions a regulated industry could thrive.
Never mind, on a cheerier and entirely less discordant note AutoPot fluttered away from the show with a glorious bauble to place on our Spann-tlepiece (our rambling HQ mansion has an open fireplace commemorating every event). Far be it from us to say that in the shape of Auto8 we had the Best Growing Product on show in 2019 – we left it to our peers and then the show organisers to bestow that particular title. That the award came about thanks to the votes of fellow exhibitors was most gratifying, especially as there were so many other deserving denizens of the horticultural sector in attendance.
Once again, vast thanks to all those who worked so hard over the weekend and to all who supported and visited us. Another mighty performance by the exhibitors this year and we thoroughly enjoyed attending in every sense. Some very worthy fellow winners too – congratulations to you all!