Switzerland celebrated the many wonderful facets of the cannabis plant this March, with the second annual CannaTrade fair and trade show. 65 exhibitors from nine nations took part in an awesome display of entrepreneurial spirit and the many marvellous uses of the wondrous cannabis plant.
Although not quite as large as Germany’s Cannabusiness trade show (CC#35, Cannabis business is big business), CannaTrade has the benefit of a more tolerant legal climate, which allowed the open display of many phat cannabis plants, as well as dozens of hempier strains clustered on the main stage.
The CannaTrade hall was packed full of people and displays. If it was cannabis-related then it was there. From the usual wide assortment of pipes, bongs and grow equipment, there was also a variety of pot related and inspired art, four different vaporizer models, eight marijuana magazines in four languages, plus dozens of booths selling hemp clothes, hash-making equipment, hemp food and drinks, cannabis books, comics, scales and anything else you can think of that relates to cannabis. There was even a working hempseed press on stage, humming quietly as it crushed fresh hemp seeds into cake and simultaneously pressed out their exquisite oil into a bucket below.
The international flavor of the marijuana movement was particularly strong at CannaTrade, as we did our best to converse with those who only spoke German, French, Italian, Spanish, Czech or Danish. We managed to get by with the help of friendly translators, hand gestures and the international language of pot.
Swiss law allows for the cultivation of cannabis as long as it is not for “narcotic purposes.” It is up to the state to prove that your field of high-THC plants were intended to be smoked for fun. This has led to an explosion of stores which side-step the law by selling bags of marijuana for “aromatherapy” or simply as “dried flowers.” In some places a budding plant, ready to harvest, is sold as a house-plant. Although some of these stores get busted, new ones rise to fill the gap and for the most part they are tolerated.
At CannaTrade this strange dichotomy in the law was brought home by the group of police officers that showed up on the first day. They called ahead to announce their impending arrival, and once in the trade show hall they made the owners of all displayed plants spray-paint their buds gold! Since it was claimed these plants were for display purposes only, the police apparently felt this was a sure-fire way to guarantee that no-one would be handing out fresh buds to passers-by.
Although it was a tragedy to see these fine, crystally buds being sprayed over with toxic paints, it was still an improvement over what would have happened had such a flagrantly fragrant flaunting of flowers occurred in any other nation.
Despite the initial downer of the police presence, the trade show continued unabated in spirit. Herb and hash was plentiful and smoked openly throughout the hall. It was odd seeing a spliff-smoking visitor watching while a policeman and an exhibitor discussed whether enough paint had been applied to a plant’s lower buds. Some exhibitors even brought in back-up plants on day two and the cops did not return.
Along with the spray-painting of buds, another police crackdown of sorts took place the week before CannaTrade. I was told by an exhibitor that her local store had been one of three that had been raided for selling marijuana houseplants and aromatherapy bags.
She told me that police had come into her store about one week earlier, and had seized her buds, plants, money and some financial records. She believed that the police action was because of the impending CannaTrade, but didn’t seem too concerned about the future of her business. She said that all three stores had opened up again the next day and were all still in business.
Part of CannaTrade was a Swiss cannabis competition, the fourth annual “Canna Swiss Cup” (CC#18, Switzerland’s first Cannabis Cup). Access to judges’ kits were limited, and those who wished to be a judge had to buy their special entry ballot and kit before the trade show opened. They received 10 strains of fine Swiss buds, all grown outdoors or in greenhouses, identified only by number.
In a tribute to how free the Swiss pot-culture feels, all of the competing growers came up on stage to receive their awards. As each one came forward for their trophy a slide projector displayed the results of THC analysis on their buds. The winning strain was grown by Kautz Felix, and was tested at a THC level of 20.93%, the highest of the batch. Almost all the other entrants tested at over 16%. The second and third place buds were grown by Challendes Marcel and Bio Cannabis Ticinese. The buds weren’t identified by strain, only by the grower.
None of the bud entered in the competition was mediocre, and the top strains were certainly comparable to the best bud I’ve smoked in BC. The winning strain had a strong narcotic kick to it, combined with a clear cerebral high difficult to obtain even under optimum indoor conditions. When combined with jet-lag and two full days of tradeshow transactions, one joint of Felix’s bud had our whole booth agog, unable to speak for a few timeless moments.
Some of the exhibitors worthy of note included Bubbleman, who sells his Bubblebag kits simply by getting everyone within range pie-eyed on his fine hash. He was paired in a booth with the super high-tech Advanced Inhalation vaporizer, which proved to be a winning combination for everyone.
The hottest vaporizer technology was definitely on display, with the Aromed and Volcano Vapormed vaporizers also steaming off sticky resin glands to the delight of fairgoers who clustered around to get a hit. All of these different new models have their good and weak qualities, but they definitely contain many improvements over earlier models, and provide a great alternative to the humdrum routine of joints and bong-hits.
Most of the new vaporizer models feature a digital temperature display, so that the user can dial in the precise desired temperature. This temperature control becomes even more important when you expand into the dizzying world of vaporizing other herbs. A fascinating book called Phyto-Inhalation, available at this time only in German, explains the optimum temperature and therapeutic benefits for vaporizing dozens of medicinal herbs. Eager inhalants were taking coffee-bean hits in the morning and ginseng hits in the afternoon. Mint and bubblehash was also a popular combination.
Germany’s Grow-Tec had their awesome self-contained “Monkey” grow closet on display, and I was also privileged to get a tour of their store and manufacturing warehouse. Their products have a smartly simple design and top-notch quality. Like many of the best European manufacturers, they’re currently looking for North American distribution.
The Cannabis Culture crew had a fabulous time at CannaTrade. By Day Three we were sold out and were pulling down posters off our display to hand out to the remaining crowds. The tolerance and hospitality of our Swiss hosts was remarkable.
CannaTrade proves once again that cannabis is a keystone of the emerging new economy. We’ll see you there in 2003!
? CannaTrade: www.cannatrade.com