This annual event in Utrecht showcases the latest technology available for those who grow cannabis and hands out awards to the top produce from that technology.
About 70 booths vied for attention selling everything from top quality seeds to get you started, to plant mediums like rock wool for hydroponic gardening, to fertilizers to ensure rapid healthy growth, to self-contained mini-growrooms, to complete computer controlled systems that monitor and control water, fertilizer, air circulation, CO2, lighting, automatically, even remotely via cellphone or the internet!
Then there's the matter of harvesting your bounty. There's specialized machines to strip off the leaves, pollinators and ice-o-lator bags to separate the tricomes from the flowers to make hash, and of course every shape, size and color of pipes, bongs, and vaporizers to provide the final delivery of the THC to your brain.
Among the aisles there were also some interesting educational booths like the Smoking Museum in Paris, and you could pick up a new music CD entitled "Oma's Medicine" (grandma's medicine), consisting of dance music and lyrics (in Dutch) which pokes fun at the social taboos surrounding marijuana.
There were also booths showing off food and beverages made from cannabis, and hemp fiber clothing and other commercial uses of this miraculous plant!
While most of the companies and visitors attending the expo are Dutch, there were a fair number of American and English guests scoping out the scene. If you're into big time growing, or you have products to sell to such growers, this is a good venue to catch up on the latest tech offerings.
The event is a production of Highlife Magazine, a Dutch publication that covers the recreational, social, political and business issues of the cannabis trade. Opening night trophies were awarded to those products that were reviewed by cannabis professionals. These included the inevitable awards for the best Hydro and Bio weed and hashish of course!
Fortunately, I had the great pleasure of judging a few varieties myself, as I am friends with the Cannabis Poet who was given so many samples, it took him weeks to test them all. I remember one session where four of the heaviest smokers I know, sat down to a joint (with the only identification being that it was E-7).
I took the first hit and as the sweet smooth smoke slid into my lungs, I went to put the joint down and froze just a few inches from the ashtray. After what seemed like an eternity one of my companions grabbed the joint (which was still smoldering in my fingers) and berated me for not passing it. She took a hit and passed it. By the time all of us had taken one hit we were all flying, the conversation had ground to a halt and the joint just sat there in the ashtray. We had to consciously force ourselves to take another round of hits. We were so high, and getting higher, that none of us felt it necessary to smoke more!
It was unbelievable (esp. considering the voracious habits of those I was smoking with!). We all ultimately agreed this was the best of the lot. I still don't know what that was, or whether it got the top award or not. But it sure deserved it! Now if I could just find some more!!!