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Prague Prepares for Cannafest, One of Europe’s Biggest Cannabis Festivals

Published on October 11, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020

During its seven years of existence, Cannafest, which bills itself as “the international trade show of cannabis and medical herbs,” has evolved from a quaint local event in the Czech Republic to one of the largest and most popular cannabis fairs in the world. Prague is already gearing up to host this year’s three-day fair, set to kick off Nov. 11.

Held in the Holešovice neighborhood’s beautiful Prague Exhibition Grounds, built for the Jubilee Exhibition of 1891, Cannafest now attracts more than 25,000 visitors from all around the world. With more than 250 exhibitors, dozens of workshops, tasty hemp foods and cannabis beers, a vape lounge, an outside music venue, and an international conference full of renowned scientists, patient advocates, and activists, it’s easy to see why the event has become so popular.

“What I especially like about Cannafest is the fact that a significant number of visitors are over 60, a phenomenon not seen at similar events around Europe.”

“Cannafest No. 7 will be the biggest ever,” Cannafest director Lukáš Běhal told Leafly, noting that this year’s event will spans four exhibition halls totalling 41,000 square feet. “As every year, we’ve worked hard to bring renowned experts from the US, Israel, Spain, and other countries to Prague to give lectures during our professional conference.” Among them are Dr. Guillermo Velasco, who is conducting groundbreaking research on cannabinoids and brain cancer in Spain; American molecular biologist Dr. Robert Melamede from Colorado, and Lumír Hanuš from the Czech Republic, a biochemist and researcher who discovered the first endocannabinoid anandamide in 1992.

Regular visitors say they appreciate how Cannafest unites people from various “cannabis fields.” Scientists and doctors casually engage in conversations with activists, patient advocates, and recreational consumers. The crowd itself is mixed, too.

“What I especially like about Cannafest is the fact that a significant number of visitors are over 60, a phenomenon not seen at similar events around Europe,” said Zuzana Kratochvílová, a sales representative for Dutch seedbank Sumo Seeds. “Czech seniors love herbs and growing them at home, that’s for sure.”

Derrick Bergman, a Dutch legalization advocate and a contributor to Leafly, agreed that the festival atmosphere is unique. “Compared to other big fairs like Spannabis and Cultiva, there’s a little less emphasis on the purely commercial side of things and more on activism and hemp as resource and medicine,” he said. “I really like the vibe and the main buildings are just beautiful.”

The only downside of the event is, unsurprisingly, police presence at the festival. Dozens of undercover officers stroll around the exhibition halls with their noses high in the air, and it’s common for drivers leaving the area to be tested for THC. Fortunately, despite the fact that cannabis is illegal in Czechia, the country’s laws are pretty liberal. Visitors caught consuming in public or in possession of less than 10 grams of dried flower usually get away with a $20 to $60 fine.

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Lukas Hurt
Lukas Hurt
Lukas Hurt is Leafly’s central and eastern Europe correspondent. Originally from a small town outside Prague, he studied history and English at university. After a stint as a bartender in Ireland, he returned to his home country in 2010, where he now works as a translator, journalist, and editor focusing on cannabis issues. He has advocated for patients and recreational consumers, publishing articles and translating books and scientific studies. He is one of the main contributors to the highly popular Czech cannabis magazine Legalizace.
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