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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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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Germany One Step Closer to Legalization

According to a top German official, Germany is one step closer to legalization. The coalition government plans to move forward with cannabis legalization after receiving “very good feedback” from the European Union (E.U.). German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is confident Germany will introduce legalization legislation “in the next few weeks,” reports the German press. “We will soon present a proposal that works, that is, that conforms to European law,” said Lauterbach. Why Germany Needs the E.U.’s Support Germany took a […]

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What Will Germany’s Legalization Model Involve?

Germany is currently in the international cannabis community spotlight with a national adult-use legalization measure expected to be formally introduced at any moment. The measure will be the culmination of years of effort by activists and lawmakers in Germany, as well as a heavy dose of recent lobbying of the European Union on the part of Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. While legalization appears inevitable in Germany, it remains to be seen exactly what the nation’s legalization model will entail.

The current political push in Germany was born out of the 2021 federal election from which a new governing coalition was elected. The “Traffic Light Coalition,” as it’s often referred to, was quick to establish its intent to pass a national adult-use measure and to launch a regulated recreational industry. Many members of the Traffic Light Coalition participated in a historic cannabis policy discussion at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin in the weeks leading up to the federal election. At that time, they indicated that legalization would be part of an eventual governing coalition agreement.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach presented a proposal in October 2022 to the federal cabinet, providing the world with a first glimpse at what legalization may look like in Germany. However, what was presented last year was merely a proposal—not a formal measure—and it’s unclear how much of Lauterbach’s presentation will make it to the finish line.

Lobbying the European Union

During Minister Lauterbach’s October presentation, he made it abundantly clear that he would seek the European Union’s approval before  formally introducing any legalization measure. Since that time, Minister Lauterbach has participated in discussions with the European Union. Leaks and comments regarding how the process is going have generated several headlines. Cannabis observers around the globe have kept a close eye to watch for any movement, and a set of comments made by Minister Lauterbach in late January may be the most telling of anything that’s surfaced thus far.

According to reports out of Germany, Lauterbach is “certain” the European Union will grant its approval and that a formal introduction of the legalization measure will occur “in the first quarter of this year.” Minister Lauterbach added, according to the report, that he “has no reason to doubt this schedule.”

Those comments may provide hints regarding the timeline for a formal introduction of a legalization measure. However, they don’t shine any light on what components of legalization the European Union may be OK with, and what components it considers to be potential deal breakers.

The legalization model that Minister Lauterbach presented to the federal cabinet late last year was based on domestic production; home cultivation permitted in adult households (three plants); and the eventual legalization of adult-use sales. The Minister’s reasoning appears to be that treaties prevent Germany from importing cannabis for adult-use sales, but that Germany can legalize a domestically supplied adult-use cannabis industry to “improve public health outcomes.” Minister Lauterbach’s proposed legalization model also includes removing cannabis from Germany’s narcotics list.

A prior leaked version of Lauterbach’s proposal involved THC percentage limits on products, but Minister Lauterbach indicated in his October 2022 presentation that THC limits would need to be researched further. Some of these provisions may have evolved during discussions between Minister Lauterbach and the European Union, although no one other than the parties involved in the discussions know.

Two-Stepped Approach

The push for national legalization in Germany comes after a different European country, Malta, already passed a national adult-use legalization measure in late 2021. Malta was the first country in Europe to pass such a measure. Malta’s population and economy are tiny compared to Germany’s, yet the small island nation’s legalization model establishes various precedents that have undoubtedly benefitted Germany in its discussions with the European Union. This provides insight into what legalization could look like in Germany.

For starters, consumers in Malta of legal age can already possess up to seven grams of cannabis and cultivate up to four plants at their residence. Malta is also starting to accept license applications for nonprofit adult-use cannabis clubs. If Malta can proceed with implementing those legalization model components without the European Union stepping in to prevent it, then presumably Germany (and other European nations) can do the same.

Until a measure is formally introduced in Germany, there’s always the possibility that components of the measure could evolve. Components that were previously omitted in the October 2022 presentation could come back into the fray, such as THC percentage caps and social use licenses. Other components could be watered down a bit, such as the proposed 30-gram possession limit or the three plant cultivation limit being lowered.

It’s also quite possible that legalization in Germany could be rolled out in phases, with the first phase involving the removal of cannabis prohibition enforcement as it pertains to individuals, and the second phase involving the launch of a regulated industry. A two-phased approach certainly has its benefits: The first phase would be easy to implement and instantly save public resources in Germany, as well as prevent more lives from being harmed by prohibition. The second phase would involve the launch of a regulated industry—which is a much heavier public policy and regulatory lift—which could then proceed on its own timeline. As long as progress is being made on the industry launch effort, and there are no unreasonable delays, the two-phase approach could be viable.

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What We’ll All Be Talking About in 2023

Responses to consumer desires, including product innovation, demands around increased environmental and social responsibility, and impressive progress in global legalization will continue to shape the cannabis landscape in 2023. Look out for these top five influential developments that just may be the buzz of the industry in the coming year.

CupCakes, a preformed bowl that’s ready to pop into a pipe or bong.

Exciting New Category: The Pre-Bowl by CupCakes

The hottest topic of conversation in 2023 could be the introduction of a brand-new category, the Pre-Bowl, a ready-to-light pre-formed bowl designed to fit perfectly in most cannabis smoking devices. Created by Colorado company CupCakes, the Pre-Bowl is an innovative new delivery method to eliminate the hassle, mess and inconvenience of grinding and loading flower into your pipe or bong to give the consumer the same experience every time. 

“Not only does our product deliver our consumer a better experience, but it provides cannabis manufacturers and cultivators a brand-new outlet for their flower,” says Jason Santos, CupCakes president and co-founder. 

Ciro, the environmentally-friendly bong cleaner.

Environmentally Friendly Tech: Ciro Bong Cleaner

In response to consumer demand, environmentally friendly cannabis products will surely become a focal point in 2023. Using patented proprietary technology, Humboldt County, CA-based Laura Costa and Cara Cordoni created Ciro, the fastest, easiest, most eco-friendly way to bring your dirty bongs, pipes and other glassware back to sparkling newness.

“The cannabis industry is loaded with waste,” Costa says. “We have created something that eliminates a lot of something else, like plastic waste and harmful chemicals.”

Ciro is a sleek and compact cleaning appliance made from recycled and biodegradable materials. No more nasty, weird-smelling chemicals and single-use plastics. Goodbye dirty chemicals, hello clean chemistry. 

Cannabis prisoner reform campaigner Craig Cesal (right) with RAW Founder Josh Kesselman.

Social Justice: Cannabis Prisoner Reform

Prisoner reform campaigner Craig Cesal served 18 years of a life sentence on drug conspiracy charges after being convicted of leasing vehicles to smugglers. While incarcerated in a maximum-security prison, Cesal used his time to help his fellow prisoners achieve freedom. And he continues to fight for them on the outside, too.

Since being granted clemency by former President Trump in his final hours in the Oval Office, Cesal has teamed up with lawyers and allies to form a nonprofit, the Second Chance Foundation. He’s currently working with more than 267 federal cannabis prisoners in the clemency process to extricate them from their cells to freedom—while also working to unify the cannabis industry. 

“I’m hoping to unite the cannabis industry,” Cesal says. “The industry needs to work together to get laws changed.”

Plantwise’s innovative formulations.

Hot Products: Category Growth & Innovative Formulations

Increasingly, cannabis consumers are attracted to infused products such as edibles and beverages. Mikey Beaudry Jr., vice president of business development at HERBL, predicts that beverages, while still a comparatively small percentage of the market, will continue to grow as a category in 2023. Additionally, more brands “will shift to or develop their offerings in affordable pre-roll and vape products to meet consumer desire for value and convenience,” Beaudry says. 

According to experts, cannabis brands will have more opportunities than ever as consumers shop for products to help them achieve their health and wellness goals.

Using innovative formulations, Plantwise has developed a world-first range of muti-path formulas that target specific issues, including sleep, immunity and focus. The ingredients list includes regeneratively grown, organic whole hemp plant phytocannabinoids along with a spectrum of additional proven nutrients, nootropics, adaptogens, herbs, vitamins and minerals.

“We focused our formulas on the core needs of top-performing individuals and delivered a convenient and efficacious supplement to allow them to show up at their very best every day,” says Plantwise CEO & Co-Founder Jimmy Brophy. 

Cannabis legalization continues around the world.

Legalization: Green Wave Will Continue

In a move that could start a domino effect for the rest of Europe, Germany looks likely to make it legal for adults to purchase and own up to 30g of cannabis for recreational use and to grow up to three plants privately. With some 82 million inhabitants, legalization would make Germany the world’s largest adult-use market and give rise to a wave of cannabis-related mergers and acquisitions, including businesses falling in the categories of production, distribution, real estate and retailing, among others. 

In the US, voters in Maryland and Missouri voted to approve ballot measures to legalize adult-use cannabis in the November midterms. Maryland’s ruling will go into effect on July 1, 2023 and allow possession of 1.5 ounces or two plants.

This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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Why Is Regulating Cannabis in Spain So Difficult?

At a time when many parts of the world are experiencing an acceleration in cannabis policy reform, Spain has moved at its own pace. Legally speaking, cannabis is illegal (decriminalized) in Spain, however, enforcement is inconsistent, and private cannabis activity is permitted. That combination has fostered an environment that’s very favorable for cannabis consumers, but it poses challenges for advocates seeking to regulate cannabis in Spain. This is because it creates an enthusiasm gap for reform efforts of sorts.

It’s no secret that Spain is bursting with cannabis commerce activity. Any cannabis consumer who has traveled to Spain, particularly Barcelona, will likely be quick to tell you that marijuana is easy to acquire there. They will also probably tell you that the cannabis is of outstanding quality—all of that creates a double-edged sword.

Why Regulate Cannabis In Spain?

Why pass regulations if things are so great for consumers? This is a logical question that points to the heart of the unique situation Spain finds itself in. After all, cannabis clubs are common in Spain, and cannabis is largely tolerated, particularly on a personal level. So why rock the boat? It’s a popular discussion point that comes up early and often at the International Cannabis Business Conference event in Barcelona every year.

As good as things are in Spain, believe it or not, they could be even better in multiple ways via a regulated industry. Before people get heartburn, I am not advocating for overburdensome regulations. What I am advocating for are things like cannabis product testing. Ensuring that cannabis products are tested and free from harmful contaminants alone would be a great improvement, brought about by regulation. This would be particularly true for medicial marijuana patients.

For entrepreneurs and investors, implementing sensible regulations would eliminate the uncertainty that goes hand-in-hand with an industry largely operating in a gray area. Sure, there would be licensing fees and other costs associated with regulation. However, those additional costs would be well worth it in the long run, both from the perspective of raising the revenue potential of the overall industry as well as eliminating the risk of businesses being shut down and the owners and/or staffers being arrested.

Is Help On The Way?

Back in June lawmakers in Spain approved medical cannabis recommendations for the first time, although it was unclear what, if any, traction the recommendations would receive with the Ministry of Health. That question was finally answered this month when Spain’s Ministry of Health announced that they’re currently working on medical cannabis regulations.

In a published response to Spain’s Congress, the Ministry of Health indicated that it’s “preparing a roadmap for the appropriate regulatory fit and the viability of these recommendations” (translated to English) with a heavy emphasis on guaranteeing the quality of medical cannabis products. The Ministry of Health didn’t seem to touch on other components of lawmakers’ recommendations, including qualifying conditions, prescription protocols and product development.

Given how established Spain’s unregulated cannabis market is, it will be interesting to see not only what regulations are ultimately implemented, but also how effective they will be. In older unregulated markets it can prove to be a major task getting patients to make their purchases from regulated outlets versus the unregulated sources they’ve purchased from for years. The largest determining factor will obviously be price, and ensuring regulations are sensible and fair is vital to keeping prices down.

What About Germany?

A major political factor when it comes to cannabis reform efforts in Europe is, of course, Germany. The current governing coalition in Germany is pursuing a nationwide adult-use legalization plan which includes the launch of a regulated adult-use industry. Given Germany’s political standing on the continent and the size of its economy, it’s a massive cannabis prohibition domino that many countries are waiting to fall before pursuing their own reforms.

It’s quite likely that Spain will be on a completely different timeline compared to Germany, and that reform will look much different in Spain. For starters, what’s currently being considered in Spain is medical cannabis only—not adult use, which is what’s being considered in Germany. Furthermore, Germany doesn’t have the gray-area-cannabis-club riddle to solve via regulations like Spain does. Most patients in Spain source their cannabis from private clubs, so presumably there will be some regulations geared towards those access models. Legalization in Germany will undoubtedly have a butterfly effect across the continent, and to some extent, the world. However, Spain is a rare exception in that there’s a domestic ball of cannabis yarn that’s going to take longer to unravel compared to most, if not all, other European countries. As always, Spain will move at its own pace when it comes to cannabis policy.

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German Opposition Leader Lobbies EU To Nix Country’s Cannabis Proposal

A leader of Germany’s main opposition party took aim at the country’s proposal to decriminalize marijuana on Wednesday, asking the European Union to step in and block the plan. 

Klaus Holetschek, the health minister for a conservative-led state government in Germany, “met the EU’s director-general for migration and home affairs in Brussels on Wednesday to urge an EU veto,” according to the Associated Press.

The proposal was offered up late last month by German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. If it were implemented, the new law would “decriminalize the possession of up to 30 grams (about 1 ounce) of cannabis and to allow the sale of the substance to adults for recreational purposes in a controlled market,” the Associated Press reported

As the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported in June, “legalizing and regulating the cannabis market was one of the progressive reforms promised by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government when his [Social Democratic Party of Germany] signed a coalition agreement with the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party last year.”

Lauterbach, a member of the Social Democratic Party, said in June that he had “always been opposed to cannabis legalization,” but that he revised his “position about a year ago.” 

He stated “his desire to have a new set of cannabis laws to present to Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, in the second half of the year,” Deutsche Welle reported at the time

But those plans hit a snag in September, when the coalition government of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) expressed concern that the proposal they had prepared may not be approved by the European Union courts.

“There is a degree of caution about promises of a breakthrough before the end of the year,” a German government official said at the time. “The complexity of all is starting to sink in, and there’s a sharper awareness of the risks involved. We don’t want another autobahn toll debacle,” a reference to a plan to build a toll road that was abandoned when the European court of justice ruled it violated an anti-discrimination law because it would disproportionately affect foreign drivers.”

Last month, after unveiling his decriminalization proposal, Lauterbach said that the German government would “check with the European Union’s executive commission whether the plan approved by the German government is in line with EU laws and would proceed with legislation ‘on this basis’ only if it gets the green light,” the Associated Press reported at the time.

Under the proposal, cannabis could be “grown under license and sold to adults at licensed outlets to combat the black market,” according to the AP, while individuals “would be allowed to grow up to three plants, and to buy or possess 20 to 30 grams of marijuana.”

Holetschek blasted the coalition government’s proposal on Wednesday, and urged the European Union to block the measure.

Per the Associated Press, “Holetschek said he told the EU official, Monique Pariat, that ‘the German government’s planned cannabis legalization doesn’t just endanger health, but I am convinced that it also violates European law,’” and  he “argued that two EU agreements oblige Germany and other member countries to criminalize the production and sale of drugs such as cannabis.”

Although marijuana is decriminalized in a number of European countries, full-fledged legalization is still fairly rare across the continent. 

Last year, the tiny state of Malta became the first country in the European Union to legalize pot. The new law allows individuals to posses as many seven grams and to grow up to four plants in their residence. 

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Cows Given Hemp Feed To Produce Milk With THC

A new study from researchers in Germany has determined that dairy cows that were fed industrial hemp produced milk with detectable levels of delta-9 THC, the cannabis compound most closely associated with the high produced by marijuana. The cows also exhibited behavioral changes, indicating that the animals might have been feeling the effects of the cannabinoids contained in the hemp feed.

“This is important, as we had no data to know to what extent cannabinoids entered the milk of dairy cows,” Michael Kleinhenz, an assistant professor in beef production medicine at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine who was not involved in the research, told NewScientist.

To conduct the study, researchers at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment fed 10 lactating dairy cows differing amounts of hemp feed containing a range of cannabinoid concentrations. The cows were studied over a period of weeks, with researchers collecting data on the animals’ behavior and conducting lab analysis on blood, milk, and fecal samples.

The researchers determined that the type of hemp feed given to the dairy cows played a role in the effect the feed had on the animals. Cows that were fed fermented feed made from whole hemp plants showed few differences compared to dairy cows given a traditional diet of corn feed. 

However, the cows that were given feed made from cannabinoid-rich hemp leaves, flowers, and seeds exhibited noticeable behavioral changes. Additionally, the milk from the cows showed detectable levels of several cannabinoids including delta-9 THC. According to the researchers’ calculations, these cows consumed up to 86 times the amount of THC that is required to get humans high.

The effects observed by the researchers included slower heart rate and breathing, “pronounced tongue play, increased yawning, salivation, nasal secretion formation,” and reddening of a portion of the eyes, the report states. Some animals “displayed careful, occasionally unsteady gait, unusually long standing and abnormal posture.”

Robert Pieper, head of the department of food chain safety for the German institute and co-author of the new study, said that the cows that were given the hemp feed also ate less and produced less milk.

“That is a strong effect on animal health,” Pieper said, according to a report from The Washington Post. “Not a positive effect.” 

Kleinhenz has conducted research on steers that were fed hemp at Kansas State University and noted that the animals tended to become calmer.

“We don’t know if they have that buzz or whatnot,” Kleinhenz said. But he added that the cattle have lower levels of stress hormones. He believes that the cannabinoids in the feed reduce stress, but “we still have to figure out that mechanism in animals.”

Hemp was legalized in the United States with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. But so far, the Food and Drug Administration has failed to allow cannabinoids including CBD into the U.S. food supply. Similarly, federal regulators have not yet approved animal feed made from hemp.

More Research Needed

Jeffrey Steiner, director of Oregon State University’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, has experimented with hemp as a feed supplement for dairy cows, sheep, and poultry. But he noted that the research only began in 2019 and several more years of study are needed before hemp animal feeds are approved by regulators.

“You’re not going to see CBD-enhanced milk on the shelf for a long time,” said Steiner, who did not have a role in the German study.

Serkan Ates, an agronomist at Oregon State University, Corvallis, has studied hemp consumption in cows, lambs, and chickens. He says that because of the potential to pass on cannabinoids in milk, “it may not be possible to feed this to high-yielding dairy cows.”

“But there is plenty of low-hanging fruit to explore, like feeding hemp to non–food-producing animals like heifers or young lambs,” Ates said.

Erica Stark, executive director of the National Hemp Association, said that high-quality animal feed can be made from hemp if regulators eventually give the nod.

“It’s going to be such a really large market,” Stark said. “There’s actually animal feed shortages in this country right now, ramifications of what’s happening in Ukraine, droughts and other crop failures.”

The study, “Transfer of cannabinoids into the milk of dairy cows fed with industrial hemp could lead to Δ9-THC exposure that exceeds acute reference dose,” was published online on November 14 by the peer-reviewed journal Nature Food.

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Cannabis Legalization in the Czech Republic

How soon will we see cannabis legalization in the Czech Republic? Sooner than you think. With cannabis already decriminalized and medical cannabis available since 2013, recreational legalization is one step closer. Prague wants cannabis legal by 2023 and intends to coordinate with the Germans. Cannabis Criminalization in the Czech Republic Didn’t cannabis legalization already occur in the Czech Republic? That’s the impression some tourists get when they visit the former communist state. Prague’s cannabis culture is similar to Vancouver, British […]

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