The industrial hemp industry has witnessed growth, decline, turbulence and chaos in recent years, propelled by the increasing acceptance and legalization of cannabis-related products. As professionals in this dynamic sector, we found that attending hemp and cannabis business conferences in captivating European cities like Prague and Brussels can prove to be an invaluable opportunity for networking, knowledge sharing and exploring potential partnerships.
Prague: A Historical Hub of Innovation
As the first stop on my European journey, Prague offered a unique blend of history and innovation. I was there for two reasons, with the first being to attend and speak at The Cannabis Summit on May 27, a cannabis-focused discussion with a great line-up of speakers revolving around perceived future policy and regulation of cannabis in European countries, including the Czech Republic and Germany. The next reason was to visit potential venues and locations that could serve to host an industrial hemp conference and exhibition. The city’s rich cultural heritage and stunning architecture provide a captivating backdrop for engaging in industry-related discussions. Additionally, Prague’s emerging role in the hemp industry makes it an ideal location for networking and forging international collaborations. The conference venues in Prague are diverse in possibilities, ensuring that participants can immerse themselves in the culture and history of the Heart of Europe.
Cologne: Uniting Tradition with Modernity
Continuing on my expedition, Cologne showcases the fusion of tradition and modernity. Known for its historical landmarks and vibrant atmosphere, this German city sets the stage for fruitful business interactions in the hemp industry. Several EIHA (European Industrial Hemp Association) conferences have taken place here in the past, including in 2018, which I was fortunate enough to attend and participate in. Not only that, I got to see Queen with Adam Lambert with a group of industry colleagues to cap off the trip. Besides scouting for potential conference venues, I also had the privilege of meeting with the good folks at Temafa, a leading manufacturer of natural fiber separation equipment (decortication), as well as fiber blending machinery and other modular machines that can fit into a full-blown assembly line. For those looking to take natural fiber processing to another level, I highly recommend connecting with Jorge Morgner, president of Temafa. And, thanks to Maciej Kowalski for the introduction!
Antwerp: A Diamond in the Rough
Antwerp, renowned as one of the world’s largest ports, particularly for diamonds, serves as a vital gateway for international trade. This was a layover stop on my way to Brussels and I found the city to be quite bustling with one heckuva cathedral in the downtown square. This Belgian city has restrictive laws on CBD set forth by the mayor, which makes it challenging for operators in the hemp space to do business. As policies surrounding CBD and hemp in Europe evolve, this city could have excellent retail opportunities in the future. A shout-out to Jelle from Hemp Nation for hosting and showing me around the city.
Brussels: The Center of Future Hemp Policy
I concluded my European hemp tour in Brussels, the political capital of Europe, which offers a stimulating environment for discussing hemp industry regulations and policies. From June 7-9, I attended the 20th Annual EIHA Conference, which was well-run, well-programmed and one of the best hemp conferences I have attended. As the headquarters of influential institutions like the European Commission and the European Parliament, Brussels provides a platform for the hemp industry to engage with policymakers and to advocate for the growth of the hemp sector. Conference attendees had the opportunity to participate in informative sessions, discussions and networking functions to stay abreast of the latest regulatory developments and contribute to shaping the industry’s future. Exploring Brussels’ diverse neighborhoods, historic landmarks and vibrant culture provided a well-rounded experience that complemented the intellectual endeavors of the business conference.
Visiting Prague, Cologne, Antwerp and Brussels on business for the hemp industry and attending related conferences presented a myriad of opportunities for meeting stakeholders and future partners in this emerging sector. This trip was made possible, in part, via The National Industrial Hemp Council of America and the USDA MAP (Market Access Program). That assistance is greatly appreciated. This area of Europe offers a unique blend of historical charm, innovation and savvy entrepreneurship conducive to the growth of the hemp industry. By participating in conferences and networking events, individuals can gain invaluable insights, establish connections with industry leaders, and contribute to the advancement of the hemp and/or cannabis industry on a global scale.
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