“To avoid what is done with olive oil, that is, to go out in large quantities in bulk outside, to be packaged elsewhere and the goodwill to be taken by another”
weekend, the Tae Kwon Do indoor stadium of Palaio Faliro smelled… hemp. The reason for the second Athens Cannabis Expo 2019, which took place from Friday, January 11 to Sunday, January 13, hosting more than 150 exhibitors of the sector, parallel speeches and events. Crowds of visitors flooded the area either to be informed or to obtain one of the products offered by Greek and foreign businesses. Coffee, tea, pizza, cheeses, oils, food, oils, beeswax ointments, cosmetics and toiletries, flowers, seeds, cultivation products, atomizers, publications, pharmaceuticals, clothes and accessories were just some of the products that could be found in the stands of the exhibition. The most important thing, however, was that for each of them there was a willing producer, processor or exhibitor to list in detail the beneficial properties of each product.
Cannabis last weekend rightfully had a celebration. About three years after the legalization of the cultivation of its industrial varieties and less than a year after the passage of the bill for the production of final pharmaceutical products, a crop that for many years was under “misunderstanding” is restored with timid but decisive steps. “Unfortunately, the illegality that the product has governed all the previous years has created a consciousness that the product itself does not deserve,” said, among others, AAT Minister Stavros Arachovitis, attending the opening of the exhibition. At the same time, he stressed that “both of its categories are dynamic crops, which the government is trying to help in every way”.
The opening of the exhibition was attended by other government officials, including the Deputy Minister of AAT, Vassilis Kokkalis, the Deputy Minister of OIKA, Stergios Pitsiorlas, the Deputy Minister of OIKA, Stathis Giannakidis, and the Regional Governor of Attica, Rena Dourou.
“Hemp, industrial and pharmaceutical, will boost the Greek economy and agriculture, creating new jobs and bringing revenues to the state’s coffers,” B. Kokkalis, revealing that we will soon have an amendment to the decision on industrial hemp to help our farmers.” In fact, he added that for Greek producers “more weight should be given to this crop, in order to obtain a stable and permanent income, but also to have investors who will also deal with it”. “I have been informed that a good move is being made for an Interprofessional Cannabis Organization as well,” he added, among others, Mr. Kokkalis, describing this move as a “wishful work”.
The statements of the executives of the Ministry of Finance were on the same wavelength, stressing the importance and the benefits that the sector presents outside, but also within the Greek borders. “This is a very dynamic market, which we will make the most of and support every effort made in the field of production, manufacturing and exports,” st. Giannakidis. St. Pitsiorlas, referring to the legislative work of the government, pointed out that “with the laws we passed, the legalization of cultivation and the legalization of industrial processing and production, we are opening a huge path, we believe that we will create a very large number of jobs and a large part of GDP in the coming years”. R. From the opening of the exhibition, he referred to the hopeful message given by such efforts, while stating the region’s support for them.
Multiplication of acres and manufacturing initiatives
“The exhibition has 50 new businesses around cannabis, there is a lot of mobility in just one year,” Michalis Theodoropoulos, president of the KANNABIO Social Cooperative, one of the first companies active in the industrial hemp sector since 2016, told “YX”. “The framework of ignorance, phobia and disinformation that existed is slowly leaving, while the producers are also more positive, but they are waiting for the manufacturing sector to move forward, where investments need to be made,” M pointed out. Theodoropoulos.
At the same time, referring to the legislative framework, he noted that it should be normalized and rationalized, since the product must be treated as yet another agricultural product. “Still, for example, the legal framework in Greece is confusing when it comes to food. Now the process for the determination of the tetrahydrocannabinol ceilings in them is underway”, remarked himself, who participates as a member of the working group of the YPAAT in the above process. “At the end of the month, the relevant proposals will be announced,” he added.
The KANNABIO Cooperative started in 2016 with the organic cultivation of just 8 acres of industrial hemp in Evia and Chania. During these three years it moved its headquarters to Volos, the group now has 18 members and cultivates 160 acres in three different areas in contract in cooperation with organic farmers. The activities of the group are the full utilization of the plant, processing the raw material in the first phase into food products and natural cosmetics. “At the moment, we are preparing the first Greek organic hemp extract, in the course of time we want to utilize the stem of the plant”, said the president of the Social Cooperative, while as far as the areas are concerned, as he added, “this year we will already reach 250 acres and our goal is to have an extensive increase every year”.
From the tobacco… in industrial hemp
The exploitation of industrial hemp was also found as an outlet by the producers of the Plantations of Aitoloakarnania, through the Agricultural Cooperative “Acheloos Hemp”. “It was a cooperative that was mainly occupied with tobacco, from 1959 to 2006 when its production stopped and the cooperative was inactivated,” said its president, Spyros Eleftheriou. “We searched to see what to do with this land that has a small lot of lots and a lot of people and we decided to deal with industrial hemp,” he added.
The cooperative began last year with the cultivation of the Finola variety, in an area of 300 acres, in order to utilize the seed for the production of oil, flour and in a second year beeswax ointments, as well as the stem of the plant, which is directed to animal feed. “We put 86 people in the game this year, for the first time, and finally we put out a production, small of course but indicative, to see what this product is and what to expect,” he added. Eleftheriou. “We had difficulties with the water and with the warehouses, we did not have the expected production,” said Elias Paligorgos, vice president of the cooperative. However, as he pointed out, “we managed to get oil of excellent quality for which there is demand from both the retail and the big merchants”.
“When we register a Greek variety, we will be talking about a different economy in Greece”
Industrial hemp can be a raw material for the manufacture of thousands of products, said Vangelis Matrakas, an industrial hemp producer-processor and owner of Kannevia, showing us the shirt he was wearing, derived from hemp. “It’s a 20-year-old garment,” he commented, highlighting its durability. Mr. Matrakas made the first cultivation of industrial hemp in Psachna, Evia, in a small farm of 7 acres. “I wanted to see and show how a small farm can become viable and with a small area of acre to live a family,” he says. “Today, we are at a level where we have achieved it, we are at 10 acres and next year we go for 14 acres, we process the products from our own plants, while we combine hemp and with olive oil that we are producers and things are better than 20 years ago, of course not everything is rosy”, he adds. “Unfortunately, in Greece, we can cultivate one of the 61 varieties that exist in the EU catalogue, while lately efforts are being made to include a Greek variety”, remarked Mr. Matrakas. “Greek varieties existed in the past and, in fact, with very good yields”, he added, adding that “when we reach these levels, we will now be able to talk about a different economy in Greece”.
To seize the opportunity for extroversion
“We must take advantage of the development potential of the plant, seize this opportunity”, said Argyris Boutzouris, who runs with his wife the kannabishop store in Athens for 17 years, while in recent years they are both growers and processors.
“From the moment that medicinal cannabis came out in Greece, we have to leave the rigidities we have in industrial hemp and open up there as well, so that the industry can grow, pulling upwards both production and processing and marketing, because it is important to be able to go out to the markets abroad”, added Mr. Mountzouris.
“Last year, we were in a cooperative scheme, Kannavi, we had cultivated in Mantineia, this year we are moving on our own, cultivating 4 acres in Koropi. Now we have taken out our products and we are doing it so that they have an export orientation later”, he added, explaining that on their label they use the cancerous inscription sibannak, the Greek cannabis, that is, upside down.
“We have to be careful of two things,” Mr. Mountzouris for the exploitation of the potential and extroversion of the sector. “First, to avoid what is done with olive oil, that is, to go out in large quantities in bulk outside, to be packaged elsewhere and the goodwill to be taken by another, and secondly, to give some particularly positive characteristics to Greek cannabis, so that when other countries enter at a lower cost we can keep market share”.
Source: Maria Antoniou , ypaithros.gr