Czech Republic Cannabis Magazine Editor in Chief Found Guilty for Publishing Weed Content

Robert Veverka is editor in chief and publisher of a Czech Republic publication called Legalizace, which has been publishing since 2010. According to Volteface, it often contained content relating to how to obtain cannabis illegally, how to grow the plant, and how to process and use it. It would also occasionally contain seed packets, as sale and possession of cannabis seeds is legal, as well as advertisements for fertilizer or seed banks.

It began five years ago when a local Czech grower was caught growing 38 cannabis plants using seeds contained in Legalizace. Although the grower intended to use cannabis to make a topical cream for himself, law enforcement began to look more closely at the Veverka and his magazine.

Veverka was taken to court starting in summer 2020. By November 2021, the District Court of Bruntál fined Veverka 50,000 Kč (or Czech Koruna, which equates to approximately $2,200 USD). According to presiding Judge Marek Stach, Veverka was guilty of producing more than 200 articles, published between 2010-2020, which could tempt readers to conduct illegal acts relating to cannabis. Stach added that “even one single article with the potential to incite readers is enough for the Legalizace magazine to constitute the crime of inciting and promoting toxicomania,” according to a press release from Legalizace and covered by the International Cannabis Business Conference.

Veverka chose to appeal that initial ruling, claiming that he was sentenced under a “rubber law.” “It is very flexible, [and] includes a paragraph that says that the promotion of illegal substances, with the exception of alcohol, can be considered a crime,” he said in an interview with CannaReporter about the law.

Most recently in March, Veverka was convicted in a regional court in Ostrava, the third largest city in the Czech Republic, for “inciting the abuse of addictive substances” and “spreading drug addiction through his magazine.” The next step would be for Veverka to appeal to the Supreme and Constitutional Court. “I will try to take this further to the highest courts to protect not only myself but any other media outlet that chooses to write about cannabis,” Veverka told Prague Morning.

In an interview with Cannabis Therapy on March 13, Veverka spoke about the most recent verdict. “I feel branded, damaged, and personally disgusted,” Veverka said. “Unfortunately, the verdict lends credence to the prosecution’s case, which reflects an ignorance of cannabis legislation and is based on a general repressive view that positive information about cannabis is unacceptable to the establishment. Moreover, according to my three-year prosecution and the court’s verdict, publishing is even an illegal activity.”

“The court’s judgement refers to a section in the law on the propagation of “toxicomania”—toxic addiction—a Bolshevik relic from the days of the totalitarian communist regime, which also prosecuted and punished people for inappropriate opinions,” he continued.

The current verdict leaves Veverka the choice to either pay CZK 250,000 (approximately $11,000 USD) or go to prison. “I definitely do not agree with the verdict: I consider the punishment for disseminating objective and comprehensive information—even on such a controversial topic as the regulation and use of cannabis—to be a systemic error of judgement and punitive bullying,” Veverka said.

However, he ended the interview by stating that this won’t stop him from advocating for cannabis and eventually publishing his magazine in the future. “I still have commitments to my readers, so I am not giving up on the idea of relaunching [Legalization] magazine,” he said. “Therefore, I sincerely hope that I will read in the reasoning of the judgement exactly what the facts are regarding where and with what I have committed said crime of ‘dissemination of intoxication,’ so that I can avoid any unlawful acts in the future. Otherwise, continuing to publish will be a very difficult thing, because one cannot do business within a cloud of legal uncertainty.”

Next, he plans to attend the 2023 Million Marijuana March demonstration that is being planned for the end of May.

Cannabis has been decriminalized in the Czech Republic since 2010, and medical cannabis became legal in 2013. Recreational cannabis use and possession is not legal, but the Czech government is drafting a bill to regulate the industry, which was originally expected to be presented in March 2023, according to Forbes. In October 2022, Czech Republic drug commissioner Jindřich Vobořil explained that the Czech Republic is coordinating with German officials to create a similar approach to adult-use cannabis legalization.

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ICBC Barcelona 2023 Connected Cannabis Businesses From Around the World

Thousands of cannabis business leaders from around the world gathered together on March 9, 2023, to put in a full day of work at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Barcelona, Europe’s premiere business-to-business cannabis event.

Despite the Spanish city’s tendency to keep people out until the wee hours of the morning, the bustling L’Auditori de Cornellà was packed with people from the very beginning of the day. Two floors of exhibitors kept attendees moving, hoping to connect with everyone from hardware manufacturers to seed banks and everyone in between before the day was done.

International Cannabis Business Conference—also known as ICBC— originated in the US nearly a decade ago and has made its mark on several countries, including Canada, Switzerland, and Croatia, with its flagship shows occurring annually in Barcelona and Berlin. Focusing on high-impact education and strictly business-to-business networking, ICB creates a professional landscape perfect for deal flow.

“The cool thing about what we do here at ICBC Barcelona is we create the b2b element,” said Alex Rogers, founder and CEO of ICBC. “We’re getting everybody coming together to talk and do business—we’ve become the b2b meeting point here in Barcelona for Spannabis week.”

The professional environment ICBC provides is crucial for many cannabis industry entrepreneurs and thought leaders who come to Barcelona every year to celebrate Spannabis. Having a day solely focused on building relationships and advancing the global conversation around the plant ensures movement for the space, something that is not lost on the attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors.

“Our team always finds ICBC of the highest caliber in terms of all of the opportunities to connect with professionals that are truly doing amazing work and are excited about the future of the space,” said speaker Luna Stower, chief impact officer at Ispire. “It’s the premier networking space for those looking to do good business with good people—everything from the main conference to the after-party was well organized and run like a well-oiled machine.”

Alex Rogers, founder and CEO of ICBC.

The ICBC Barcelona 2023 agenda was jam-packed, with programming in Spanish and English covering topics such as comparing medical marijuana regulations across Europe, media and marketing, advances in cannabis technology, and the state of the international cannabis landscape, all featuring heavy hitters representing every side of the vertical—and every corner of the globe.

One of the most talked about panels was “Squaring the Circle of Industrial Hemp in Spain.” While it mainly focused on the country’s domestic hemp space, it raised important questions about the potential industrial hemp has around the globe. At a time when climate change is ravaging the planet, the myriad uses for hemp as an energy source, building material, and plastic alternative cannot be ignored any longer.

“Jack Herer used to tell me hemp can save the planet,” Rogers said when asked about the popularity of the panel. “I wasn’t sure if I believed him back then. But now I am a believer.”

All Eyes Are on Germany

While many of the conversations at ICBC Barcelona 2023 centered on Spain, the real buzz centered on Germany. German officials, who legalized medical cannabis in 2017, have been working diligently to introduce adult-use legalization—a first for the European Union. The plans are expected to be announced any day and were recently given the thumbs up from EU officials—a precedent that signals a significant shift for the region.

“This is the biggest news in cannabis right now—Germany is the big dog in the EU,” Rogers remarked. “Once Germany (legalizes), it basically gives permission for other countries in Europe to do it also.”

Ngaio Bealum, comedian, writer, and longtime master of ceremonies for ICBC, also predicted big things for Deutschland.

“I think Germany is really going to blow up. And it will also open it up for everybody else in Europe to see how it’s done; we can generally trust the Germans to be relatively efficient.”

Despite turmoil facing mature markets in the US, the booming international market led to a renewed sense of vigor among event participants.

“The ICBC Barcelona 2023 event was one of the best we have been to in the past couple of years; we felt we got a lot out of our main sponsor role,” Stower said of Ispire’s engagement. “Considering the news that just dropped in Germany and all the excitement around Europe in general, the energy was electric.”

Rogers echoed Stower’s sentiments, encouraging everyone to stay tuned for a very busy ICBC Berlin on June 27—and to think beyond the current market excitement, reminding us all that this is a global movement.

“Europe is the place right now,” Rogers quipped. “But the great thing about ICBC is all the people that come from all around the world, so it’s become a meeting point for the Eastern hemisphere and part of the Western hemisphere. So it is the most internationally diverse meeting point for cannabis in the world.”

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Week in Review: Germany Likely to Legalization; Politics a Hot Topic at SXSW

Germany’s Health Minister Indicates That Legalization Will Proceed

The German health minister has indicated that adult-use legalization will move forward in the European country, reports Marijuana Moment. Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Tuesday that he has received “very good feedback” from the European Commission and expects his bill to be formally presented “in the next few weeks.” 

“We’ll soon present a proposal that works, that is, that conforms to European law,” Minister Lauterbach said. Throughout the lobbying process, the minister has indicated that his efforts aim to improve public health in Germany via regulating adult-use cannabis. In 2022, the Federal Cabinet of Germany adopted a preliminary outline for legalization legislation. Still, the government required EU approval to ensure that adopting the change wouldn’t violate their international duties.

Under the government’s soon-to-be-revised proposal, which is currently only a 12-page framework and not actual legislation, adults 18 and older would be permitted to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis from establishments with federal licenses, potentially including pharmacies. Moreover, they may raise up to three plants for their own use.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Andrew DeAngelo. Photo courtesy of SXSW

Legalization the Hot Topic at SXSW 2023

Global Cannabis Consultant and Strategic Advisor Andrew DeAngelo, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) gathered onstage to discuss federal cannabis legalization at this year’s SXSW conference in Austin. The panel, called “Which Political Party Will Legalize Weed?” gave the two representatives an opportunity for a lively discussion on the end of federal cannabis prohibition. Moderator DeAngelo pushed the politicians on the lack of progress in the Capitol, according to Green Market Report.

Blumenauer is said to be “more optimistic” than last year, referencing President Biden’s pardoning of cannabis prisoners and the fact that Biden is also keeping the possibility of descheduling on the table after initiating a review of cannabis classification. However, he was said to be more critical of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) inability to get a voting measure passed by the House, quoted as saying their desire for perfect legislation is behind the continued stalling but believes the two had “learned their lesson” and are more open to compromise.

Mace was reportedly less optimistic, saying if any change is going to happen, it needs to be done before June, as after that, “it’ll be about the presidential election,” she said. The South Carolina Republican also noted that President Biden could use it to his advantage to boost his reelection hopes.

Photo couresy of Death Row Cannabis

Snoop Extends Death Row Cannabis Product Offering 

 Following the sold-out first product drop of its debut offerings LA Runtz, Trop Cherry, Strawberry Garry and SFV OG, Death Row Cannabis has launched two new additions, True OG and Strawberry Gelato (Apple Fritter x Lemon Cherry Gelato hybrid), on March 10. Plus, fans of LA Runtz can be reassured that the popular strain also be returning. Like the first fire drop, these new cultivars were carefully by Death Row Cannabis’ Head of Operations, AK, a longtime West Coast legacy cultivator. 

“We’re very excited to introduce California consumers to Death Row Cannabis’s newest heavy hitter, Strawberry Gelato,” Travis “Shaggy” Marshall, head of product, said. “It has a loud, unique strawberry nose that’s tart and sharp on the front but sweet and creamy on the back. To me, it’s what I’d imagine a strawberry shortcake-flavored milkshake would taste like. Not only is it uniquely delicious, but testing at over 35% it also packs a punch for heavier smokers like me.” 

Arkansas Police: Medical Marijuana Causes Other Crimes

No Increase in Traffic-Related Hospitalizations Following Cannabis Legalization

The introduction of adult-use marijuana sales in Canada isn’t linked to a rise in hospitalizations for traffic-related injuries, according to data published in the journal Addiction, reports NORML. Researchers compared the national rates of hospital admissions and emergency room visits in the years before and immediately after legalization. 

 “Overall, there’s no clear evidence that RCL [recreational cannabis laws] had any effect on rates of ED visits and hospitalizations for either motor vehicle or pedestrian/cyclist injury across Canada,” the authors concluded.

The results align with an earlier Canadian study from 2021, which “found no evidence that the implementation of the Cannabis Act was associated with significant changes in post-legalization patterns of all drivers’ traffic-injury ED visits or, more specifically, youth-driver traffic-injury ED presentations.”

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Cocaine Production Soars to Record Levels, UN Reports

According to a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), “The COVID-19 pandemic had a disruptive effect on drug markets. With international travel severely curtailed, producers struggled to get their product to market. Night clubs and bars were shut as officials ramped up their attempts to control the virus, causing demand to slump for drugs like cocaine that are often associated with those settings.

“However, the most recent data suggests this slump has had little impact on longer-term trends. The global supply of cocaine is at record levels. Almost 2,000 tons was produced in 2020, continuing a dramatic uptick in manufacture that began in 2014, when the total was less than half of today’s levels.”

According to The Guardian, production “of coca, the drug’s base ingredient, spiked 35% in 2020-21, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.”

“The pandemic was a bit of a blip for the expansion of cocaine production, but now it has rebounded and is even higher than what it was before,” said Antoine Vella, a researcher at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and who contributed to the report on cocaine.

The UN report says that the “surge is partly a result of an expansion in coca bush cultivation, which doubled between 2013 and 2017, hit a peak in 2018, and rose sharply again in 2021.

“But it is also due to improvements in the process of conversion from coca bush to cocaine hydrochloride. In parallel, there has been a continuing growth in demand, with most regions showing steadily rising numbers of users over the past decade. Although these increases can be partly explained by population growth, there is also a rising prevalence of cocaine use. Interceptions by law enforcement have also been on the rise, at a higher speed than production, meaning that interdiction has contained the growth of the global amount of cocaine available for consumption,” the report continues. 

While the cocaine trade has long been concentrated in major hubs like Colombia, that might be changing. As Vella told The Guardian, “I think we need to shift away from thinking of cocaine as being a European/North American problem because it’s also very much a South American problem.” 

“The cocaine trade in Colombia was once controlled by just a few major players. As a result of a fragmentation of the criminal landscape following the demobilization of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) in 2016, it now involves criminal groups of all sizes, structures and objectives. But, signs of consolidation of some of these groups have recently emerged. These developments have led to an increasing presence of foreign actors in Colombia. Mexican and Balkan criminal groups have moved closer to the centre of production to gain access to supplies and wholesale quantities of cocaine,” the report says. “These foreign groups are not aiming to take control of territory. Instead, they are trying to make supply lines more efficient. Their presence is helping to incentivize coca bush cultivation and finance all stages of the supply chain.” 

The report continues: “In established cocaine markets, the proportion of the general population using the drug is high. But these markets only cover around one-fifth of the global population. If the prevalence in other regions increases to match established markets, the number of users globally would increase tremendously because of the large underlying population. This type of market convergence has already been happening in the case of Western and Central Europe, where purity levels and prices have harmonised with the United States, although prevalence of cocaine use in Western and Central Europe has not yet reached the level in the United States.”

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German Minister Expects to Introduce Updated Cannabis Legalization Proposal Soon

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbauch recently attended a meeting in Brussels, Belgium with the Council of Ministers for Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers on March 14. While in attendance, he spoke about the progress of his cannabis proposal and an estimated timeline of its release.

According to Europa Press, his proposal “has obtained a very good response from the Commission,” Lauterbach said.

He also spoke with news outlet NTV, explaining that his proposal will be presented in the “next few weeks.”

“We will soon present a proposal that works, that is, that conforms to European law,” Lauterbach said.

According to Europa Press, Lauterbach stated that it’s the responsibility of the German governing coalition to “comply with European legislation while maintaining their own objectives” in order to “[reduce] crime and to make cannabis use as safe as possible.”

He also added that there have been some concerns about cannabis legalization. “We have to address several issues. One of them has been presented by the Netherlands, which […] proposes a centralized care and focuse[s] on the recommendations of the experts,” Lauterbach said.

While Lauterbach’s formal proposal has yet to be released, a separate cannabis proposal was also held in a meeting with the German Bundestag Health Committee on March 15. “MEPs [Member of European Parliament] propose allowing adults to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis or cannabis resin,” the meeting description states. “The cultivation of up to three female cannabis plants for personal or community use should also be permitted. Keeping a year’s harvest of up to three plants should also be allowed. The draft law provides for administrative offenses and fines if the maximum permissible amounts are exceeded.”

Originally, a rough draft of Lauterbach’s proposal was leaked in October 2022 by RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland. One week after the leak, Lauterbach gave his proposal to German Chancellor Olaf Sholz.

Under that proposal text, cannabis possession between 20 to 30 grams for adults 18 and older would not result in a punishment. Product THC limits would be capped at 15%, with a 10% limit in place for young adults between 18 and 21 years of age. Sales and distribution would only be permitted for licensed businesses (and importing would be prohibited). Finally, residents would be allowed to cultivate three cannabis plants for personal use.

At the time, Lauterbach described his plan as “the most liberal legalization of cannabis in Europe, which will result in the most regulated market in the EU.” He also shared that an updated version of the plan would be presented as early as the beginning of 2023. “A formal introduction of the legalization measure will occur in the first quarter of this year,” he estimated

Germany legalized medical cannabis in March 2017, but officials formally announced an interest in exploring recreational legalization in late 2021. Official interest began in June 2022 when it was announced that it would be holding five hearings to discuss the importance of public safety, youth prevention, supply chains, and more. “The hearings are intended to discuss which measures can be used to ensure the best protection for young people, health and consumers in the event of implementation,” said Federal Government Commissioner for Addiction and Drugs Burkhard Blienert. “Because one thing is clear: we want to protect children and young people in particular from possible risks.”

Officials from the delegation of the Health Committee of the Bundestag traveled to California in September 2022. They met with Oaksterdam University Chancellor Dale Sky Jones, CA NORML representatives, and many other advocates, and also toured cannabis dispensaries to assess the opportunities and risks of legalization. Finally, they explored Lowell Farms cultivation facility and discussed seed to sale, including energy and water conservation, as well as the inner workings of SC Labs in regards to lab testing and compliance.

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Spannabis 2023: The Magic Is Back

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 Secret Sesh.

Genius Genetics

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.”

Spannabis 2023 drew crowds from all corners of the globe. Photo courtesy of Spannabis

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.

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Netherlands to Launch Cannabis Pilot Program

The government of the Netherlands will launch a cannabis pilot program with the goal of full-scale legalization.  Wait, you might ask, doesn’t the country with Amsterdam cafes already have legal cannabis? Technically, no. Not legal, like in Canada or Uruguay. The Dutch decriminalized cannabis in 1972, making possessing an ounce or less a misdemeanour. By 1976, “coffeeshops” were all the rage. The official policy is one of tolerance. So while it is still technically illegal to buy, sell, or produce […]

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Cannabis Pilot Program Kicks Off in Switzerland

Weed is for sale in one of the largest cities in Switzerland—for a select few, anyway.

The country officially launched its pilot cannabis project on Monday, clearing the way for a few hundred selected participants to purchase marijuana for recreational use in various pharmacies throughout the Swiss city of Basel.

Swiss officials last year gave the go-ahead for the pilot project, with the country’s “Federal Office of Public Health [saying] the idea of the project is to increase understanding of ‘alternative regulatory forms,’ such as regulated sales at pharmacies that could be a basis for future legislation,” according to the Associated Press.

“Basel’s project, which involves the local government, the University of Basel and the city’s University Psychiatric Clinics, will get under way in late summer,” the AP reported last year. “Nearly 400 participants will be able to buy various cannabis products at selected pharmacies in Basel, the city government said. During the 2 1/2-year study, they will be questioned regularly on their consumption of the substance and on their physical and mental health.”

Participants in the program will be strictly monitored by government regulators, and they are barred from sharing the cannabis with anyone outside the program. 

Vigia AG, a Swiss company that provides track and trace software, said this week that it “has developed the Cannabis Dispensary System in partnership with the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) in order to reliably document the dispensing of the products,” which in turn “makes it possible to track the cannabis goods transparently and gives the foundation for scientific research.”

“We are in an emerging industry where various paths to legalisation are currently being discussed. With a structured legalisation process, maximum conformity and transparency, Switzerland is setting an example. With our existing Cannavigia software and the Cannabis Dispensary System, we provide the various stakeholders involved with the necessary tools to track and document every step along the supply chain. We are proud to be part of the Swiss pilot projects and this historic milestone,” Philipp Hagenbach, the chief operating officer of Vigia AG, said in a press release on Monday.

The release contains more details on Vigia AG’s involvement in the landmark Swiss program:

“Vigia AG is the FOPH’s official track & trace partner for the pilot trials. This kind of partnership between the government and a commercial business in the cannabis industry is unique to the sector. Vigia AG has added a Cannabis Dispensary System (CDS) to its existing Cannavigia software solution. Thanks to the combination of the two, the companies cultivating cannabis for the projects can monitor their cultivation and supply chain, which serves to ensure the quality of the final products.

“Those in charge of the projects can use the software to register the study participants, with those responsible for the Weed Care study starting this as early as September 2022. It allows the dispensaries to keep track of sales as well as individual quantities dispensed to participants, guaranteeing that only authorised persons can purchase the products. This ensures consumer and especially minor protection and results in a transparent and traceable supply chain which can also be maintained in a future legalised environment. The Cannabis Dispensary System provides the FOPH with an overview of the circulation of cannabis in Switzerland and supports the reporting obligation to the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board. The data of the participants are always stored pseudonymously in order to ensure data protection.”

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Greece Opens First Medical Pot Production Plant

History was made in Greece with the country inaugurating its first ever medical cannabis plant last Thursday.

According to the Greek Reporter, the plant, which opened in the city of Corinth, is backed by an investment from Tikun Europe, a subsidiary of Israel-based medical cannabis company Tikun Olam.

Adonis Georgiadis, Greece’s minister for development and investments, heralded the opening of the plant as a milestone for the country.

Speaking at an event for the opening of the Tikun plant on Thursday, Georgiadis said that cannabis could be “a product which we will be able to export throughout Europe because this factory can carry out huge exports to all major European countries,” as quoted by the Greek Reporter.

According to the outlet, Tikun Europe CEO Nikos Beis hailed the new facility in Greece as “the largest pharmaceutical facility in the industry in Europe.”

“A new era is beginning for our country with the operation of our Tikun Europe facility, paving the way for Greece to become one of the main players in the field of production and export of medical cannabis products,” Beis said, as quoted by the Greek Reporter.

The medical cannabis plant in Corinth, Greece. Credit: Tikun Olam

Greece legalized medical cannabis back in 2017, but the country’s government banned the import of such products in 2021, which effectively made it impossible for Greek patients to receive the cannabis treatment due to the lack of domestic production 

But that appears to be changing.

The country said last year that cannabis would soon be sold in pharmacies throughout Greece.

“The goal is for Greece to become the top European country in the production of medical cannabis. Greece’s environment is friendly for this particular plant and we think we will have a natural advantage,” Georgiadis told the Greek Reporter last year, which said that “foreigners will also be able to use medical cannabis in Greece” and will “be allowed to purchase it through pharmacies” so long as they have a prescription from their doctor.

The outlet reported at the time that Georgiadis anticipated “huge investments in the production of medical cannabis which the government hopes would add up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.67 billion) annually to state revenue.” 

The Greek Reporter has more on the facility:

“According to Tikun Europe, the plant can produce finished medicinal cannabis products in various pharmaceutical forms. The company aims in the immediate initiation of cultivation in the vertically integrated greenhouse unit, with an area of 21,000 m2 and an annual production capacity, reaching in full growth, the quantity of 10 tons of dry flower. The plants received will be used for propagation under strict protocols that will ensure the preservation of the unique characteristics of the mother plants to future generations. The facility is expected to reach its full capacity levels gradually in the near future, to deliver a wide variety of finished medical cannabis dosage forms.”

Tikun received its license to initiate operations on the facility last year. 

“It was a great pleasure to welcome the operating [license] of our production unit, the construction of which was recently completed,” Beis said in a statement at the time. “The operation of the plant will start very soon, bringing us one step closer to the [realization] of our vision: to meet the ever-increasing demand of Greece and Europe for high-quality medical cannabis products. Our factory is the largest pharmaceutical company in the specific industry in Europe and exploits the potential of our country to play a leading role in the global market for medical cannabis.”

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Is 2023 Spain’s Year for Cannabis Reform?

It’s likely a safe bet that 2023 will be a significant year for cannabis reform efforts and the emerging cannabis industry, particularly in Europe. It’s no secret that a legalization measure is expected to be formally introduced in Germany in 2023, and if/when that happens, it will have a domino effect throughout most of the continent. But Spain’s cannabis reform measures move at their own pace.

As discussed in my last article for Cannabis Now, Spain tends to move at its own pace when it comes to cannabis policy reform. This is due in part to an enthusiasm gap among cannabis supporters for reform efforts within the country. As touched on in the last article, life is good for many consumers in Spain. Cannabis is easy to acquire in many parts of the country; there are tons of options to choose from; and there’s no shortage of cannabis clubs. Yet, the status quo still leaves a lot of patients on the outside looking in, creating a breeding ground for selective enforcement.

Are Medical Cannabis Regulations On The Way?

Palacio de las Cortes is a building in Madrid where the Spanish Congress of Deputies meets. PHOTO Courtesy of Madrid Destino

Spain’s Health and Consumption Commission of the Congress of Deputies previously approved an opinion of the Medical Cannabis Subcommittee back in June 2022 that called for medical cannabis regulations. Part of that opinion approval tasked the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) to develop a plan within 6 months regarding how it would implement the related recommendations of the opinion. That six-month deadline expired in December 2022.

A regulatory “roadmap” is reportedly already crafted, although firm details have yet to emerge. For that matter, even when every detail does emerge, it’s quite likely that things could still evolve in some areas. However, at the macro level, a regulated medical cannabis industry that’s accessible to Spain’s patients does seem to be on the way, and that’s good news for patients seeking tested medicine. Whether medical industry licenses will roll out in 2023 is still unclear, and it’s sure to be a popular topic at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference in Barcelona in March.

What About Cannabis Clubs?

Barcelona cannabis club
Circulo is a cannabis club in Barcelona’s El Born neighborhood. PHOTO Jackie Bryant

The stated goal of officials in Spain is to move medical cannabis patients away from the unregulated market and instead provide them with the ability to acquire their medicine from a regulated industry. Purchasing medical cannabis from regulated sources provides several benefits that aren’t present in the unregulated market, not the least of which is the elimination of potential criminal penalties for participating in the transaction.

The most common way that most patients currently acquire their cannabis in Spain is to source it from one or more of the country’s hundreds of private cannabis clubs. Unregulated cannabis clubs have filled the void for many years, which is largely due to lawmakers in Spain having dragged their feet on cannabis reform for so long. Many patients find cannabis clubs to be accessible—plus, they’re familiar with current offerings.

If all medical cannabis is to go through pharmacies, where does that leave current cannabis clubs? Will there be increased enforcement as part of a strategy to eliminate competition? It seems like failing to incorporate clubs into the current regulatory push would be a missed opportunity.

What Are The Chances Of Spain Legalizing Adult-Use in 2023?

PHOTO Kyle / Adobe Stock

Germany isn’t the only country in Europe that’s currently pursuing adult-use cannabis legalization. Leaders in the Czech Republic indicated that they’ll proceed with adult-use legalization alongside Germany, and it’s likely that leaders in other nations are considering doing the same. Negotiations and discussions are currently taking place behind the scenes across the continent as well as at the European Union level. And just because a country isn’t at the table right now doesn’t mean they won’t join eventually.

Unfortunately, Spain isn’t likely to be one of those countries, at least not in 2023. Given how much of the medical cannabis regulation discussion remains unsettled, it’s nearly guaranteed that lawmakers and regulators won’t leap past medical cannabis regulations all the way to adult-use.

A bit of a wild card that could possibly affect chances of reform in Spain can be found in a different European country: In the island nation of Malta, located just south of Sicily, applications for nonprofit cannabis club licenses will start being accepted early this year. Given how central cannabis clubs are to Spain’s cannabis culture, it will be interesting to see if a successful launch of regulated clubs in Malta could help convince lawmakers in Spain that they could also make it happen. Only time will tell.

What Spain has right now is both beautiful and flawed. For the nation’s industry to reach its full potential, for all suffering patients to get safe access to much needed tested medicine, and for Spain to take its rightful spot as an international leader, a strong system must be put in place. Hopefully 2023 proves to be the year that happens.

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