Upwards of 120 businesses, exhibitors, entrepreneurs, and innovators will gather in the Greek capital of Athens on Friday to present medical marijuana products, technology, and applications to the general public. But the massive cannabis event won’t just be introducing the drug to the people. Politicians from across Greece will also attend the event in order to gather support for the government’s plans to generate revenue through a legal medical marijuana industry.
Athens To Host Balkannabis Expo 2018
Nearly a year ago, Greece became the sixth EU country to legalize medical marijuana, joining the Czech Republic, Portugal, Spain, Finland and of course, the Netherlands.
“From now on, the country is turning its page, as Greece in now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said at a press conference.
In a sense, the decision represented the country’s history catching up with itself. History buffs may remember that the ancient Greek historian Herodotus made the first mention of cannabis in Western literature.
Then, a few months later, Yiannis Tsironis, Greece’s Deputy Minister for Agriculture, began calling for full adult-use legalization, including permitting Greek citizens to grow cannabis on their property.
Without a doubt, Greece is carrying this pro-marijuana momentum into Friday’s “Balkannabis Expo.” Government officials have come out in vocal support for the event. They’ve even gone so far as to officially back the Expo, according to the Greek Reporter. The hope is that the event will help to catalyze the medical cannabis industry in Greece.
The Balkannabis Expo set to take place this Friday, however, isn’t the first cannabis trade fair to hit Athens. Last year, the city hosted a similar event that attracted international investors and companies, including firms from Canada and Israel.
What makes this year’s medical marijuana expo different is simply that Greece’s SYRIZA government is officially supporting the event. But the country is also in a much better position to attract investors to its nascent MMJ program.
Cannabis and the Greek Crisis
It’s no secret that Greece’s economic troubles have put the country in a dire financial predicament. Unable to pay its debts, the country had to accept the harsh terms imposed in bailout negotiations with European lenders.
Greece’s progressive SYRIZA government believes medical cannabis can provide a much-needed boost to the nation’s economic recovery. Hence, Prime Minister Tsipras’s steady investments in the industry and efforts to legalize the drug.
In fact, Tsipras’s party is projecting $2.3 billion in revenue from the cultivation and production of medical marijuana.
Friday’s Balkannabis Expo is ostensibly geared toward increasing support among voters and the larger public. But it will also offer government officials the opportunity to mingle with industry leaders and investors. Indeed, the issue of legal cannabis is already immensely popular among Greeks.
The Greek Government Gets Behind the Green
Every sector of the medical marijuana industry will be in attendance at the Balkannabis Expo. Health and nutrition companies, seed producers and cultivators, hemp clothing and textile manufacturers, and even medical researchers will gather in Athens to promote the social, economic, and public health benefits of cannabis.
The event will also feature 35 prestigious speakers from 17 different countries delivering lectures on medical marijuana and its uses. Speaking events will also provide a platform for patients who grow their own cannabis. Others will speak about how using the drug has improved their quality of life.
With backing from the Ministry of Rural Development, the Municipality of Athens, the Region of Attica and the General Secretariat for Industry, this year’s event will have unprecedented support from and access to major decision-makers in government. Expect Greece to emerge as a serious player on the international medical cannabis stage in the coming years.
By: Adam Drury, High Times