California cannabis, seeds, and new weed tech reign globally

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An employee from the artisanal cannabis brewery, Cannabeer, speaks to a participant at the 2023 Spannabis event in Barcelona, Spain. “Barcelona has emerged as the new Amsterdam in terms of cannabis law liberalization,” says Leafly Senior Editor David Downs. Photo by David Downs, courtesy of Leafly.

Cannabis from California is taking the world by storm, solventless extracts are the future of cannabis products, and the global cannabis industry is more connected than ever.  

Those are some of the main takeaways from Spannabis, a global cannabis industry fair that took place this year in Barcelona, Spain.

Leafly Senior Editor David Downs attended the worldwide meetup and broke down the upcoming trends and changes in the weed industry.

What is Spannabis?

Europe just had its biggest pot party of all time. Spannabis has become the California cannabis industry’s Spring Break. There were over 100 private cannabis collectives open where you can purchase and consume cannabis. 

Barcelona has emerged as the new Amsterdam in terms of cannabis law liberalization. The cannabis industry is more global than it's ever been.

Where does California stand in the global cannabis industry?

If you go into a California dispensary, and then take a trip to Barcelona and walk into a private cannabis collective, you're gonna see the same strains on the menu.

Cannabis collectives in Barcelona have a special tranche of their top shelf called “Cali Weed” or “Cali Packs.” They feature the best and brightest strains from the West Coast.

It's a global cannabis trade now and California has emerged at the center of it [in the same] way Scotland runs whiskey, Germany runs cars, or Italy runs fashion. Everyone looks to us and our industrial advantage and innovations and immediately replicates them.

What does cannabis legalization look like in Spain?

It's really an example of this new quasi-legalization that's popping up all over the world. It's very similar to how California was under Proposition 215, where the laws advanced to give cover to personal [cannabis] activity, but there was still interdiction on the cultivation, sales, and distribution sides. 

In Spain, there are personal rights to privacy that are tending to cover personal cannabis use inside one's home. When you're in these private collectives, it can feel like 2023 at the counter. The second you walk out onto the street, you don't have the same rights that you do in California under Proposition 64

Specifically, the right to not be stopped and searched for the smell of cannabis alone. People are still being stopped and searched and sometimes fined and jailed. They tend to give less jail time over there, but people are operating in this liminal space.

How is the global cannabis industry faring?

It's never been bigger. 

We talked to people who've been in the game for 30 years in Amsterdam, and their heads are spinning at the opportunities around the globe. They're working quickly to collaborate with new brands to bring their genetics or their flowers to other places. 

Because of the internet, shipping, and globalization … the technology that we innovate in California … rapidly gets exported to other places.

For example, in Latin America, two years ago they didn't have these things called solventless extracts which are really refined, but all natural, forms of cannabis hash. 

[Fast forward] two years later, Colombia is winning cannabis cups internationally and that technology is spreading to other Latin American countries beyond Colombia this year. That dynamic is replicating itself over and over again in other countries.

What cannabis strains will be hot across the globe this year?

On top of the list is the strain Zkittlez. That strain started about eight years ago in the Emerald Triangle in Northern California. 

This year at Spannabis, Zkittlez won again at a special contest, but this time [the winner] was grown in Basque country, which is the separatist region in the remote corner of Spain. 

So we have Zkittlez genetics that have gone from the remote corners of the Emerald Triangle all the way to the remote corners of islands off of Morocco and in the breakaway regions of Spain. 

It's a story of a very popular genetic that looks great, smells great, and gives people what they want in a new way. When we have something like that, it just colonizes all the markets it can get to.

Is “cannatourism” growing?

Rick Steves, the famous travel guide, said that cannabis was a place that people should be allowed to visit, and I think we've proven that in terms of legalization. 

I encourage everyone who loves cannabis to go renew their passport, book a nonstop flight, and really get out there. In terms of travel destinations, the U.S. Virgin Islands now has legalization, as well as Guam. There are cooler places to visit than ever. 

There's going to be state to state tourism as well. Even though Americans tend to stay pretty domestic, there's going to be Illinoisans taking a spring break trip to Missouri this year to avail themselves of newly legal cannabis under a governmental program that's much more liberal than the one they're finding in Illinois.

Lastly, I do want to remind people to respect local state and national law and, at the same time, when in Rome do as the Romans do. 




Matt Guilhem


Tara Atrian