On August 24 to 26, 2001, Germany was host to the sixth annual Cannabusiness Expo, an international gathering of over 100 exhibitors from eight nations, devoted to all things marijuana and hemp. The two-tiered trade hall was filled with exhibitors demonstrating a wide range of pipes, bongs, vaporizers, grow systems, as well as magazines, hemp food and drink, urine cleansers and strange items like hempen didgeridoos.
There was also a series of lectures accompanying the expo, almost all of them in German, with a focus on “hemp and health.”
The event got more media attention in Germany than ever before, including having Germany’s biggest radio station, EinsLive, broadcast live from the Cannabusiness grounds.
Outside on the grassy parking lot it looked like a microcosm of every Grateful Dead or Phish encampment. Cars and VW’s parked everywhere, people sitting by small fires, passing joints and the occasional other mind-expanding substance.
As a sponsor of the event, Cannabis Culture had a booth where we showed off our magazine and various CC paraphernalia and merchandise. We graciously shared our table space with our friend Bubbleman, purveyor of fine Bubblebags used to turn leaf and shake into mind-numbing hash.
This year’s expo was bigger than the few previous, with 30 new exhibitors filling up the venue and spilling into the outside courtyard, where in true German fashion the beer garden was conveniently located. The hall was constantly packed with people ? event officials estimated that 4000 sweaty cannaphiles endured the sweltering heat to peruse the many booths and displays.
Despite open doors and ventilation, the heat inside the exhibition hall reached extreme proportions. The best-selling item was a small fan attached to a squirt bottle. We had one at our table and were besieged with people wanting to know where to get one, or just asking for a quick spritz.
The first Cannabusiness Expo in 1996 was heavily attended by Dutch seed merchants, who were exploiting an opening in German law which allowed them to legally sell their high-potency genetics. By 1998 the law had been changed, although some seed-sellers persisted by trying to disguise their wares as “games.” One was a cardboard box with small holes and seeds inside: get the seeds into the holes, only $100! These types of business were all shut down during 1998, and since then there’s been no substantial seed presence at the event.
This year some of the Dronkers clan from Sensi Seeds were in attendance, but only in their HempFlax incarnation. Nirvana Seeds was also there, somehow getting away with handing out boxes of seed catalogs. We also showed off the Marc Emery seed catalog in our magazine, ex-plaining to interested Germans that Emery ships “anywhere in the world.”
I was surprised to learn that Cannabis Culture has a following in Austria, where our magazine is sold on many newsstands. I met Stevie, owner of Bush Planet, a massive headshop-growstore in Vienna. He explained to me that Austrian law does not forbid the growing of cannabis, only flowering it to produce a drug. So his store sells many hundreds of clones along with a wide selection of bongs, books and grow equipment.
Stevie told me that a few months earlier his store had been raided by police, who had seized his stock of clones. But the police had shamefacedly returned his bedraggled cuttings a few weeks later, and are now facing a lawsuit to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Expect to hear more about Bush Planet and the Austrian pot scene in a coming issue of CC.
I also spoke with Jos Nijsten, a Belgian intellectual, pot activist and author of the Cannaclopedia, an exhaustive tome of cannabis lore written in Flemish, the language spoken by the majority of Belgium’s population. Nijsten told me of his quest to produce cannabis related information in the language of his country, and that other than his book very little information was available.
Canada was well represented by Marc-Boris St Maurice, Leader of Canada’s Marijuana Party, and Lucie L?tourneau of Quebec’s Canolio. St Maurice was there representing Heads, a marijuana magazine produced in Quebec, now on their fifth issue. Canolio had a prominent booth where they displayed their line of fine hempen coffee, cosmetics and lotions.
Another Canadian was Joel Manson, the creator of the Sweetleaf bud grinder, the first of what has become a countless number of such devices on the market. Joel was philosophical about people selling copies of his original idea. “I don’t mind if people improve or change the grinder and market their own version,” he said, “but I don’t like it when someone brings out the exact same design and configuration of nails as the Sweetleaf.”
Impressed by the quality of the Sweetleaf grinders, Cannabis Culture ordered a set with our logo emblazoned upon them, for sale through our new mail-order service.
My most exciting moments at Cannabusiness came when I visited the trailer of a motorbike racing team, just outside the main exhibition hall. The racing team is sponsored by Roors, a major German pipe and bong manufacturer which had a big booth at the expo. I was taken for a teeth-jangling ride around the arena, standing and holding on tightly to the crossbar of an ATV sidecar as we raced around oncoming cars, bounced up and down stairways, and zipped through the parking lot. Toking up before the drive certainly didn’t impair their ability to perform a variety of exacting maneuvers on the vehicle.
Another source of excitement was pair of somewhat distracted German ?ber-babes, who had their nude upper torsos painted by air-brush and walked around the exhibition space, haughtily posing for pictures. They were constantly surrounded by cameras, and their surgically enhanced breasts were by far the most photographed items at the event.
Visitors voted for their favourite products, and awards were given for “Product of the Year” in four categories. Udopea’s Phytoinhalation won the award for best book. The Vapormed Volcano Vaporizer won the award for best paraphernalia item. Grow in Berlin took the growing award for their Venture Sunmaster light bulbs. The most popular hemp product was the “anti-stress pillow” filled with low-THC buds and leaves, from Hanf-Zeit. German bongmaker Roor took the best booth award for the second year in a row.
There are currently three German language pot magazines: Hanf!, Hanfblatt, and Grow. Hanf! featured prom nently at Canna-business, and has a print run of 60,000 copies, only slightly less than Cannabis Culture.
With this in mind, Cannabis Culture is investigating the possibility of a German-language edition of our fine publication, targeted to the German-speaking European reader. We’ve begun the process of finding German printers, distributors, advertisers and the other ingredients needed to launch Cannabis Kultur sometime in 2002.
Our goal is not to run local magazines out of business, but rather to offer a complimentary, international perspective for the politically aware German pot connoisseur. This is still a tentative project, expect to read more about it in a future issue as it goes forward.
Next year’s CannaBusiness expo will take place September 27 – 29, in Castrop-Rauxel, Germany. Organizers claim they are working on a “new concept” for the event. Cannabis Culture looks forward to seeing you there!