Climate Change and Cannabis: The Scary Truth

This Northern Hemisphere summer is witnessing an arc of fire sweeping across continents—and scientists view it as a grim harbinger of a very challenging future on Planet Earth. Anthropogenic climate change is the critical factor driving the conflagrations. Enter: climate change and cannabis.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres told ministers from 40 countries meeting to discuss the climate crisis in Berlin on July 18: “Half of humanity is in the danger zone, from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires. No nation is immune. Yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction.”

And from Northern California to the Rif Mountains of Morocco to the Balkans and Himalayas, many of the areas hit the hardest are world centers of cannabis cultivation. This clearly poses special challenges for an agricultural sector still struggling to win the legal space necessary for responsible and ecologically sound practices.

California Fires

Large areas of Northern California’s cannabis heartland, the Emerald Triangle, have been devastated by wildfires in recent years. This year the Triangle—generally defined by the counties of Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino—has thus far been spared. But fires encroach ominously on the enclave. Making national headlines is the Washburn fire in the Sierra Nevada, which has penetrated Yosemite National Park and threatens the famed Mariposa Grove, which protects more than 500 ancient sequoias.

But there have been fires closer to the Triangle. In mid-July the Peter Fire in Shasta County, which borders Trinity on the east, consumed over 300 acres, with three homes among several buildings destroyed in the town of Anderson. Then, in late July, the McKinney Fire in Siskiyou County, bordering Trinity on the north, became the biggest of the year so far, consuming 55,000 acres of the Klamath National Forest.

UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain tweeted that the Peter Fire “is another example of a fire in the wildland-urban interface that will likely have a modest final footprint but has the potential to be quite destructive within that footprint, given the number of structures in the path.”

Taking a regional view of how this year’s fire season is playing out, Swain tweeted: “Late-season precipitation kept things fairly damp across much of the northern third of California through late June… This helped suppress early-season wildfires across much of the state, although activity has recently picked up and…fuels (heavy brush/dead and down tress) are now at or near record dry levels once again.”

This alarming climate change and cannabis landscape can only be met with trepidation in the Triangle. In 2020, the August Complex, centering on Mendocino and Trinity, passed the one-million-acre mark, prompting coinage of an entirely new term: “gigafire.” In cannabis-producing homesteads, growers (both licit and illicit) were faced with the dilemma of whether to evacuate or stay to protect their crops. Many chose to resist evacuation orders, at great risk to themselves.

And last year, fires in Siskiyou County exacerbated social tensions over a recent influx of Laotian immigrant cannabis growers. One Laotian man evacuating from the fire zone was killed by police at a checkpoint, leading to protests. This June, Siskiyou again saw wildfires, although they were contained fairly quickly by CalFire responders. 

The Mediterranean to the Himalaya

A fire fighting water bomber dropping water on a forest fire on top of the Kozjak mountain in Croatia.

The climate change and cannabis scenes from Northern California are now reflected in northern Morocco, where wildfires have this month consumed more than 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of the Rif Mountains—the world’s most significant center of illicit cannabis cultivation. The provinces of Larache, Ouezzane, Tetouan and Taza—where Berber farmers produce hashish for the European market—have been devastated. Homes and farms have been lost to the flames, as well as large swaths of pine forest. Thousands of residents have been evacuated and, clearly, the state of global warming and marijuana is dire.

The most significant zone of illicit outdoor cannabis cultivation within Europe is the Adriatic coast of the Balkan Peninsula—also now being threatened by flames.

Wildfires in Dalmatia, the coastal strip of Croatia, have damaged ancient olive groves—as was noted with dismay by the olive oil trade journals. We may assume that illicit cannabis grows in the region have also been impacted. And further down the coast, in Albania—Europe’s largest producer of illicit cannabis by far—is witnessing wildfires, especially in the Mount Çika area of the south. Greece is sending emergency aircraft to help Albanian authorities fight the blazes.

These North African and Balkan fires are linked to the same extreme heat wave that has also meant devastating fires across large areas of Spain and France.

But the climate change and cannabis phenomenon stretches well into Asia. Fires began in Siberia in May, and Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered prompt measures—fearing a repeat of the destruction in the 2021 fire season. “We cannot allow a repeat of last year’s situation, when forest fires were the most long-lasting and intensive of recent years,” Putin said.

Kathmandu, Nepal’s air quality is now considered one of the worst in the world. PHOTO Ingo Bartussek

And fires are also sweeping Asia’s hashish hub of Nepal. Hundreds of fires across the country’s mountains caused Kathmandu’s air quality to become one of the worst on the planet in April and May. Scientists said the forest fires across Nepal and parts of northern India were the worst in the past 15 years. The European Union’s Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMSreported in April that fires in India’s Uttarakhand state, bordering Nepal, emitted nearly 0.2 mega-tons of carbon in the past month, a record since 2003. Of course, fires linked to global warming also exacerbate the greenhouse effect by releasing carbon into the atmosphere, in a vicious cycle.

The fires in the Himalayas ended with arrival of monsoons in June. But this carries its own risk. Dozens were killed in India and Nepal during last year’s particularly heavy monsoon season. In another vicious cycle, lands where forests have been destroyed by fire are vulnerable to erosion and even the collapse of whole mountainsides when the rains finally come.

Kathmandu’s National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Authority now warns that two million Nepalese are likely to be impacted by floods and landslides this monsoon season. Among those at risk are clearly many cannabis growers—who persist in their centuries-old pursuit despite fruitless efforts by the authorities to eradicate their crops.

This year’s monsoons have already brought disastrous flooding to Pakistan, where some 170 have lost their lives over the past weeks.

Cannabis Forests in Africa and South America

Cannabis plantation in Morocco’s Rif Mountains. PHOTO Stefano Zaccaria

In some places, cannabis cultivation appears to be actually contributing to the vicious cycle. In past years, forest fires in Morocco have been blamed on cannabis growers, who often start small fires to clear land for their crops.

Another major African marijuana producer is Kenya—despite having some of the harshest cannabis laws on the planet. February 2019 saw a huge wildfire that engulfed some 80 square kilometers of bamboo forest in a critical watershed of the Mount Kenya area. Authorities similarly blamed the blaze on outlaw weed growers clearing land for their crops.

Small peasant producers around the world typically use fire to clear wooded lands—whether they’re growing cannabis, corn or cassava. But for climate change and cannabis the impacts are compounded by its illegality.

In many countries of the Global South, peasants displaced from the agricultural heartland by big landlords and agribusiness are left to clear forests for their fields. But with cannabis, the threat of eradication and criminal charges provides an extra imperative pushing growers into marginal forested areas. This dynamic is certainly also seen in Paraguay, which in recent years has overtaken Colombia as South America’s top cannabis producer.

In January 2022, during the Southern Hemisphere summer, wildfires swept through southern Paraguay, consuming10,000 hectares of forest and grasslands. Some 200 head of cattle and sheep were lost, and grim videos showed the burnt and rotting carcasses of livestock strewn across the plains. As in California, this devastation is becoming an annual occurrence in Paraguay.

And the origins of the fires have again been traced to outlaw cannabis growers. In Paraguay’s 2020-21 summer, thousands of fires were registered across the country. The non-governmental organization Guyra Paraguay, which tracks forest fires, stated that all of them had been deliberately started, either “for agricultural reasons or to grow marijuana.” (Of course, growing marijuana is an agricultural reason.)

In October 2020, the Ministry of Environment announced that armed men linked to cannabis cultivation in southern Paraguay’s Caazapá National Park had prevented firefighters from containing the blazes in the area. The Paraguay fires are part of a larger dynamic of regional cannabis and climate change across South America, with the Amazon rainforest turning into savanna as canopy is lost and groundwater depleted, and, further south, the savanna turning into desert.

As Carbon Brief website sums up this process of desertification: “The combined impact of climate change, land mismanagement and unsustainable freshwater use has seen the world’s water-scarce regions increasingly degraded. This leaves their soils less able to support crops, livestock and wildlife.”

Legal agro-industries are certainly driving this as well, and can operate outside the law, especially in remote areas. Brazil’s cattle barons notoriously maintain their own paramilitary forces to usurp lands from peasants and indigenous peoples. But cannabis growers are effectively forced to operate outside of the law, to push the agricultural frontier deeper into the remaining forests, and to deal with militarized cartels instead of legitimate brokers. 

An Ecological Ethic for Cannabis Culture

A permaculture hill mound. PHOTO Naya Na

Back in the Emerald Triangle, a legalized cannabis cultivation sector faces the challenge shaping a sustainable model in a fire-prone region.

Lelehnia Du Bois is the founder and chair of Humboldt Grace, a community empowerment organization for the counties of the Triangle. Among its activities is the Fire Recovery Project, which raises funds for local families impacted by the conflagrations caused by climate change and cannabis. Du Bois is also involved in the Back-to-the-Land Project, which documents the history of the hippie colonists who first brought cannabis to the region in the late 1960s.

Du Bois is herself the offspring of the back-to-the-land generation and has been a licensed cannabis grower since 2005. Du Bois says she has seen the local climate change over the years she has lived in the Triangle. “It’s a lot warmer and drier than in my childhood,” she tells Cannabis Now. “I’m on the coast and the redwoods have brown in them, in the needles. I’ve never seen that before; it’s incredibly visible.”

She recalls that in her youth, folks would facetiously call the coastal fog “Humboldt County sunshine.” She adds: “The 30-somethings these days don’t even know what that means.”

Many of the area’s cannabis growers are trying to adapt. “We’re seeing a lot more people dry-farm, going back to the old sustainable methods—or regenerative, as they say today.”  Dry farming refers to cultivating without irrigation, drip system or other water diversions, but taking measures to preserve soil moisture. Du Bois points to the use of hügelbeds—a concept borrowed from European permaculture, in which crops are grown in mounds of decaying wood topped with compost and soil. The beds are designed to capture water as well as to fertilize.

“As a culture, we’ve gotten used to thinking the new ways are better. But as we go deeper into crisis, were learning to go back to the old ways, where you work with nature rather than extract from nature,” Du Bois says.

Some growers are simply using less than their allotted square footage of land under their state license. “That allows us to use less water, while growing a smaller amount of better medicine,” she says.

Duncan McIntosh is a former licensed cannabis grower in Trinity (he recently switched to strawberries and tomatoes) who is a county planning commissioner and president of the North Fork Grange—representing farmers along the north fork of the Trinity River. Today, this overwhelmingly means cannabis farmers.

He too notes how the local impact of climate change and cannabis has shifted. “Fires have been ravaging the Pacific Northwest for the past ten years, and it’s getting worse and worse. Last year, the Monument Fire burned a third of the county; the year before, the August Complex burned a third of county. Farmers lost water tanks and sheds and water lines to water their gardens.”

“Where fires used to burn tens of acres, they now burn hundreds of thousands of acres,” he adds. “The winters aren’t as cold as they were. The old-timers say the river used to freeze over—that never happens anymore.”

In McIntosh’s view, the effects of the greenhouse effect are “amplified by mismanagement of the forest.” Ironically, the dogma of total fire suppression has allowed undergrowth to build up, providing fuel for the devastating conflagrations of recent years and impacting global warming and marijuana.

The North Fork Grange is now managing the 80-acre Junction City Community Park with oversight of the Trinity County Resource Conservation District and a grant from CalFire. “We’re eliminating underbrush, relieving pressure on the groundwater to make the standing trees healthier and more robust, and more likely to survive fire,” McIntosh says.

They’re planning controlled “low-intensity” burns on the site to take out the remaining brush, after the bulk of it has been manually removed. This is to be undertaken together with the Watershed Center, a local environmental group, and the county fire department.

McIntosh calls the project “a rekindling of our connection with the element that’s fire, which is as much a part of our environment as water. The war on fire has been about as successful as the War on Drugs. It’s only amplified what they’re trying to suppress.” He’s hoping the US Forest Service will take up the idea for the much larger areas of the county that lie within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

“We’re trying to get back to responsible stewardship of the land, from an economy of exploitation going back to the Gold Rush,” McIntosh says.

Du Bois portrays such efforts as part of a deeply rooted ecological ethic in the Triangle. “The back-to-the-landers who grew the weed before we called it ‘cannabis’ moved up here to be a part of nature, to live with the cycles, rather than destroying the place and being takers and extractors,” she says. “That’s what’s allowed us to care the plant for so long.”

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Cannabis Cafes Emerge in Post-Legalization Thailand

Reuters reports this week that “several” such cannabis cafes have opened in the capital city of Bangkok since Thailand decriminalized pot in June, becoming the first country in Asia to do so.

When the government removed cannabis from its list of banned substances earlier this summer, officials were adamant that they were not legalizing recreational pot use.

“It’s a no,” Thai Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told CNN when asked if recreational use would be permitted. “We still have regulations under the law that control the consumption, smoking or use of cannabis products in non-productive ways.”

But that isn’t exactly how it has played out.

The new law “has led to an explosion in its recreational use,” according to Reuters, “something that government officials – concerned about negative effects on health and productivity often linked to uncontrolled use of the drug – have retro[s]pectively tried to discourage.”

“The law does not cover recreational cannabis use… and so tourism promotion is focused on medical (aspects),” the national tourism authority’s Deputy Governor, Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, said, as quoted by Reuters.

According to Reuters, a “parliamentary committee is now debating a bill to regulate cannabis use that is expected to finalise in September and could impact the cannabis cafes.”

The “pushback against the way the new policy is being interpreted has caused some confusion, with authorities resorting to issuing piecemeal regulations such banning public smoking of cannabis and its sale to under 20s,” Reuters reported.

CNN reported in June that the new law meant that it “is no longer a crime to grow and trade marijuana and hemp products, or use parts of the plant to treat illnesses,” and that “cafes and restaurants can also serve cannabis-infused food and drinks — but only if the products contain less than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant’s main psychoactive compound.”

“We [have always] emphasized using cannabis extractions and raw materials for medical purposes and for health,” Charnvirakul told CNN at the time. “There has never once been a moment that we would think about advocating people to use cannabis in terms of recreation — or use it in a way that it could irritate others.”

“Thailand will promote cannabis policies for medical purposes. If [tourists] come for medical treatment or come for health-related products then it’s not an issue but if you think that you want to come to Thailand just because you heard that cannabis or marijuana is legal … [or] come to Thailand to smoke joints freely, that’s wrong,” he added. “Don’t come. We won’t welcome you if you just come to this country for that purpose.”

Tourists have not heeded his warning, however.

Reuters this week spotlighted one such cafe called RG420, located in “Khao San, an area of Bangkok popular with backpackers.”

RG420’s owner Ong-ard Panyachatiraksa told Reuters that his cafe has had “hundreds” of visitors every day.

“Europeans, Japanese, Americans – they are looking for Thai sativa,” Ong-ard said. “Cannabis and tourism are a match.”

The new marijuana law has been fraught with controversy since it was enacted earlier this summer. Last month, more than 850 doctors in Thailand came together to speak out against cannabis decriminalization, warning that it posed dangers to young people.

“Cannabis was removed from the Public Health Ministry’s Narcotic list on June 9, but no policies have been launched to control the use of cannabis for personal pleasure,” a spokesperson for the group of physicians said. “This lack of [legal] direction makes cannabis more accessible for children and teenagers.”

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Cannabis Legalization Criticized in Thailand as Too Much, Too Soon

One thing is true about cannabis legalization no matter where it happens: Nobody gets it right the first time around—and there are always lots of critics. This has been true in every legalizing U.S. state. It is true of Canada. It will almost certainly be the case in Europe, although legislators here are cautious to back most forward moves on the legalization front into “trials.” This is also now being seen in Asia as Thailand becomes the first country in the region to legalize the plant and proceeds with crafting formal legislation to regulate the burgeoning domestic cannabis industry.

While Thailand may be internationally hailed as the first Asian country to embrace cannabis reform, however, the new policies are being harshly criticized in some quarters particularly domestically, and further with flawed logic seen elsewhere.

There are two key issues of contention. The first is that critics are lambasting the government decision to move ahead with cannabis reform at all—albeit of the medical kind. The second is that the government should have moved more slowly and studied the consequences of legalization, closing loopholes along the way.

One of the most public consequences of the country’s moves to legalize cannabis this year, beyond the global publicity Thailand received for giving away one million cannabis plants or releasing its cannabis prisoners, is to launch a public relations campaign warning tourists that cannabis is not broadly legal in the country.

And this is all before the formal bill to legalize medical use has formally passed into law.

Buyer’s Remorse in Thailand?

Thailand may be proceeding with reform a little differently than Western countries to date, but the arguments against reform seem to be remarkably similar, no matter the geography in which they happen.

The first, inevitably, comes from the established medical profession. Despite the government’s assurances that they are implementing medical not recreational use reforms, Thai doctors have raised concerns familiar elsewhere. Namely that cannabis supposedly can “trigger” mental health issues. This is particularly ironic given the history of the plant here. Historically, cannabis has been used in Thailand, as in other countries, for both medical and religious purposes.

The second wave of criticism is coming from critics who are concerned that the change in the law will hurt the reputation of Thai agricultural exports. Namely whether such biomass will be used in animal feed. There is also considerable irony in this attack, including the existence of a recent Thai study which appears to indicate that chickens fed hemp with up to 0.4% THC appear to need fewer if not any antibiotics as they are raised for meat.

A Global Stigma Remains

No matter how far cannabis reform has come in the last decade, it is situations like the one now unfolding in Thailand which are stark reminders of how far the legalization effort still has to go.

The positive news is that Thailand’s sudden change of heart towards cannabis is already prompting other countries in the region (such as Indonesia) to re-examine their own approach to cannabis.

Thailand’s green conversion, in other words, is particularly disruptive in a region that so far has resisted modern cannabis reform, and further still has some of the harshest anti-cannabis laws on the books anywhere in the world. In many parts of Asia, one can still receive a life sentence if not the death penalty for “crimes” that are considered relatively minor cannabis infractions elsewhere.

The largest hemp producer in the world, China, is of course watching all of said developments closely. At the U.N., the country still lobbies against removing cannabis from a Schedule I drug. At home, even unapproved possession of hemp seeds is considered a serious crime.

Regardless, the remarkable progress in Thailand, as well as the unconventional approach to implementing reform seen here, is just another welcome sign that, no matter the critics, the great cannabis revolution rolls on, unabated, even in this part of the world.

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Malaysia Ends Mandatory Death Penalty for Nonviolent Drug Crimes

Malaysia’s cabinet agreed on Friday to end mandatory death penalty sentences for 12 different kind of “crimes” including those involving non-violent drug offenses. The move comes four years after the government imposed a stay on executions. The reason this is so significant is that most people on death row in Malaysia have been convicted on narcotics charges.

According to information provided by the government as of February of this year, 1,341 people were on the Malaysian death row—and 905 of those people were convicted of “drug trafficking.”

Human Rights advocates in the region are cautiously optimistic. However according to Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, there should be no celebrating until this is codified in legislation. “The Malaysian government loves to float trial balloons about human rights initiatives because it knows the international community has a short attention span.”

Amnesty International called the government’s decision a “welcome step in the right direction.”

According to the most recent reports, the government expects to introduce the bill in Parliament in October and have it go into effect no later than January 2023.

The move is even more significant given the trends on capital punishment in the region. Singapore, Myanmar, and Vietnam are, in stark contrast, increasing the use of the death penalty.

Cannabis Appears to be the Driving Force of Reform

What makes this sudden prioritization of changing a major piece of policy even more interesting is that the Malaysian government may have decided to change its stance on mandatory sentencing, beyond legal cases, because of its recent and growing interest in medical cannabis.

Medical cannabis reform was discussed by the Malaysian cabinet in April this year during a meeting which the country’s Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob also attended. Subsequently the government issued a written statement that said “More than 40 countries have legalised consumption of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The caucus believes that Malaysia has the space and a huge opportunity in this industry for medicinal and research purposes which could deliver a lot of benefits for the country.”

As of now, a mandatory capital punishment sentence is imposed on those caught with more than 200 grams of cannabis. Lesser offenses are punished by up to a life sentence in prison.

The most recent discussion at a cabinet level about legalization of at least medical use also came on the heels of charges of drug cultivation and trafficking being made against a popular local singer named Yasin Sulaiman who performs Islamic devotional songs.

Currently no legal cannabis is grown in the country. As of last November, the government began allowing the import of medical cannabis of pharmaceutical quality specifically for medical purposes.

It is also highly likely that the change in policy has been prompted by an enthusiastic embrace of the plant in next door Thailand which has recently moved forward not only with cannabis reform but just announced a giveaway of a million cannabis plants.

History of Cannabis in Malaysia

Cannabis has been cultivated in the country for centuries. There is scant evidence that it was used as medicine; archaeological evidence has revealed that hemp has long been used for fabric production and for food. Arab traders were selling it in the country as early as the 8th century B.C.

The local cannabis trade entered its last golden age in the late 19th century when the British East India Company began trading it across the region. During the last century, the Vietnam War and Western backpackers also fuelled the nascent market.

The War on Drugs is indeed coming to an end, globally. What makes this development even more exciting is that cannabis reform is now driving a much larger revision of government policy in every part of the world.

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Thailand’s Easing Cannabis Laws

According to the deputy prime minister, Thailand’s easing cannabis laws will bolster the country’s agriculture and tourism sectors. Although not full legalization, Thailand’s easing cannabis laws is different from other nation-states. For example, the government has distributed 1 million cannabis plants among its population.  Thailand is the first Asian country to decriminalize cannabis. How Thailand’s […]

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Thailand to Give Away 1 Million Free Cannabis Plants for Home Cultivation

Let the planting begin. Thailand’s government leadership signaled optimism regarding the country’s recent shift in medical cannabis reform with a massive plant giveaway.

Thailand Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said he will offer households 1 million cannabis plants for free in a May 8 Facebook post. Furthermore, beginning on June 9, Thailand residents will have the freedom to grow “as many cannabis plants” as they like in their own homes for medical purposes, according to Charnvirakul.

The Nation Thailand reports that the homegrown cannabis must be grown for medical purposes. Licensing will not be required for home cultivation, unlike commercial cannabis and hemp companies in the country.

“This will enable people and the government to generate more than 10 billion baht [$288,846,200 per year] in revenue from marijuana and hemp,” Charnvirakul said. “Meanwhile, people can showcase their cannabis and hemp-related products and wisdom and sell their products nationwide.”

Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to legalize medical cannabis in 2018. In 2020, the Cabinet in Thailand has approved amendments to the country’s narcotics act which would allow for private production and sale of medical cannabis. Last January, Thailand also became the first country in Asia to legally allow cannabis.

Licensed companies in Thailand can sell hemp products with less than 0.2 percent THC—a tad bit more strict than the 0.3 THC limit imposed on hemp in the United States.

While home cultivation of medical cannabis will have few restrictions, large cannabis-related businesses must request permission to operate from the Thailand Food and Drug Administration, he added.

People who grow commercially without first obtaining permission from the government will face a fine of up to 20,000 baht ($577.76). People who sell commercial cannabis without a license face a fine of up to 300,000 baht ($8,665.76) or three years in jail, or both.

The intention is to redefine cannabis as a “household crop,” and it’s the latest maneuver in Thailand’s plan to transform cannabis into a cash crop.

About one-third of Thailand’s entire labor force works in agriculture, according to The World Bank.

The Free Market in Thailand

Charnvirakul added that he wants to allow entrepreneurs and businesses to compete freely in Thailand’s cannabis market.

After legalizing medical cannabis in 2018, the country reportedly saw its own “Green Rush,” primarily composed of infused edibles, drinks, and cosmetics companies with a big focus on hemp-derived cannabinoids like CBD as well as terpenes. This took place after the use of hemp-derived ingredients were approved for use in edibles and cosmetics.

Dirk De Cuyper, CEO of S Hotels and Resorts told Benzinga that it is a destination for medical tourism, when asked about the country’s latest developments.

Businesses such as Chopaka, OG Papers, and Bloom discussed the blossoming cannabis community in Thailand. “The new market is interesting,” entrepreneur Kitty Chopaka told High Times in March, representing a terpene-infused gummy company. “Because we’re in Asia, many people are curious but don’t want to get high.”

Despite the new focus on medical applications, cannabis is well-known in the country for recreational purposes as well. Legendary Thai Sticks have been supplied on and off to the U.S. since the Vietnam War. Only the finest sativas were chosen, tied with silk to bamboo or hemp stalks, and rolled in hash oil (or opium). Reportedly it was the highest quality weed around in the 70s. The modern equivalent might be a strong canna cigar. According to Danny Danko in 2015, Thai Sticks fell out of favor years ago as some farmers in the lowlands of Thailand were forced to switch from the cultivation of the country’s stellar sativas for more profitable poppy plants.

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How We Got Here Today – The Origin and Spread of Cannabis

420 looms, so why don’t we look at the origin and spread of cannabis? The plant’s been around, so it’d be nice to know how we got here today. Like a lot of domesticated plants, cannabis has an origin point. It started out as a wild plant in parts of Central and East Asia. Humans […]

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Top 10 Global Cannabis and Hemp Industry Events of 2020 (And Others To Look Out For)

You may have already seen our list of the top cannabis and hemp industry events in North America, and now we want to help you find the best global convention to fit your needs.

If you’re working with cannabis or hemp, regardless of the specific niche, you definitely want to keep your networking options open. Of course you can use social media to boost your brand, but sometimes, nothing compares to in-person communication.

This is why trade shows, expos, and conventions remain among the top tools for expanding a business. And they’re not just for people who are new to the industry, even established companies and well-known professionals can always benefit from meeting new people and learning about the new CBD products and trends that develop every year.

Below detailed list of the top cannabis, hemp, and CBD events throughout Europe, Asia, and South America. For events in the U.S. and Canada, click here. Please note that the list below is ordered based on date, NOT based on the importance of the event.

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Canna Expo – Athens, Greece – January 10 to 11

This event focuses on all the latest innovations, medical achievements,
and newest products in the cannabis industry today. Attendees can get
familiarized with both medical and lifestyle/recreational products such as cannabis-infused
cosmetics, cocktails, seeds, vaporizers, clothing, and much more. Taking place
in the beautiful and historic city of Athens, Greece, there will be a lot to do
and see there after the convention ends each day.

Asian Hemp Summit – Kathmandu, Nepal – January 31 to February
1

The Asian Hemp Summit will take place in Kathmandu, Nepal,
home of Mount Everest. The expo aims to unite anyone with a take in the Asian hemp
industry such as politicians, development agencies, private hemp enthusiasts,
environmental groups, retailers and consumers. They will look at the development
of hemp markets in the following countries: India, Japan, China, Thailand,
Australia, Taiwan, Hongkong, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kajakistan,
Bhutan, South Korean, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, and Mongolia. If
you have time while you’re there, definitely check out some the beautiful
natural scenery and friendly culture.

Cannabis Europa – Madrid, Spain – February 10

Cannabis Europa Madrid will bring together 250+ senior decision-makers to address the issues of regulating cannabis in Spain (which is Europe’s largest medical cannabis market) as well as the rest of the continent. This will be the perfect opportunity for Europeans in the cannabis industry to learn about all the most recent developments as well as network and expand their own brands. Cannabis Europa Madrid will be taking place at the Intercontinental Hotel, in the heart of Madrid.

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International Cannabis Business Conference – 3 global events,
2 north American – Dates listed below

ICBC is one of the largest B2B cannabis industry events globally with numerous big-name speakers and opportunities to learn and network. ICBC has 5 events this year in different parts of the world starting with San Francisco from February 6-7. After that, the event will move to Barcelona on March 12, Berlin from April 1-3, Bern from May 13-14, and Vancouver on September 11. You can buy tickets to any one of these events now and save money for being early. Check out their website for details on

Hemp and CBD expo – Birmingham, U.K. – March 2

At the second annual Hemp and CBD Expo, you can expect to be
welcomed by a professional atmosphere full of people interested in learning
more about the U.K. cannabis industry. The event will be about 80 percent B2B
attendees and 20 percent B2C guests. This trade show is dedicated to the hemp and
CBD, and there will be exhibitors from every step of the supply chain along the
way. Birmingham, an Industrial Revolution-era city is vibrant and
full of museums, concert halls, parks, and beautiful canals to complete your
visit.

World Cannabis Conference/Spannabis – Barcelona, Spain –
March 13 to 15

This year, Spannabis will be held together with the eight installment of the World Cannabis Conferences. Spannabis is a premier hemp and alternative technologies event that has been held in Barcelona since 2004, when the cannabis industry was just barely on the cusp of becoming mainstream. Aside from immersing yourself with cannabis culture at the nation’s largest event, Barcelona is a beautiful coastal city with many recreational offerings for all tourists.  

2020 Cannabis and Hemp Events You Don’t Want To Miss (U.S. and Canada)

Cannatech – Tel Aviv, Israel – March 29 to 30

CannaTech Tel Aviv 2020 will showcase researchers,
scientists, entrepreneurs, patients and influencers from every part of the
industry and from all over the world. CannaTech is widely recognized as the
industry’s premier event for education, networking and access to global
cannabis capital. Tel Aviv is a wonderful and bustling city located on Israel’s
Mediterranean coast. Visitors can enjoy themselves at a wide array

Hanfexpo – Vienna – April 24-26

Hanfexpo will be taking place at the famous Marx Halle in
Vienna Austria for its second time. The 8,000+ attendees can expect to see 180
exhibitors from all over the world. Topics covered at the event will include cultivation
and breeding, products like pipes, vaporizers, cosmetics, clothing and other
accessories, healing effects and medical potential, and more. As Austria’s
capital city, Vienna is known as an artistic and intellectual mecca.

World CBD awards – Paris, France – July 15 to 17

The World CBD Awards Show is a luxury event that aims to
recognize the best brands and products in the CBD industry. Think Grammy awards
for the CBD industry. This year’s event will take place in the city of lights –
Paris, France. It’s a formal, black-tie event so prepare to dress up. Also, you
can expect to see some of our CBD Testers team there as well.

Medical Cannabis Forum – Valletta, Malta – November 19 to 21

The Medical Cannabis Forum is known as one of the most important events of the industry. People from the medical, legal, tech, and commercial sectors will be there to exchange knowledge on some of the most pertinent topics impacting the industry. This three-day conference on the beautiful, Mediterranean island of Malta, will focus on legalization, business, regulation, and research.

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Other Events to Look Out For:

  • Future Health – Basel – January 28
  • Future Cannabis Business strategies – London – January 29-30
  • Caribbean hemp growers conference & expo – San Juan – February 2-4 (U.S. outlying territory)
  • Medical cannabis conference – Lisbon – February 12-13
  • Vape and CBD Expo – Medellin – February 22-23
  • Asian cannabis and hemp investment symposium – Hong Long – Februray 22-23
  • Hemp and CBD Expo – Birmingham – March 2
  • Europe Canna Expo – Dublin – March 3-4
  • Australia Medical Cannabis Conference – Melborne – March 23-24
  • 420Hemp Fest – Milano – April 3-5
  • Canna Mexico World summit – San Critobal – April 23-24
  • Hempsfair – Frankfurt – April 25-26
  • The CBD Show – London – may 1 to 3
  • Cannabis business France – Paris – may 3-5
  • ExpoCannaBiz Business Conference and Expo – Cartagena – May 10-11
  • Europe Canna Expo – London – June 26-27
  • Cannabis Business Poland – Warsaw – July 1-2
  • Hanfexpo Autumn Edition – Austria – September 24-26
  • Europe Canna Expo – Zagreb – October 15-16

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