Only a short while ago, CBD – short for cannabidiol – was still something of a mysterious underground product, only to be found in alternative health shops and questionable back-street establishments. Back then, very few of us really knew much about the product or what it was even used for.
The industry has come a long way since then. Within just a few years, the CBD industry has truly skyrocketed. As many high street shops are struggling to even stay afloat, it seems that a new CDB shop is popping up every week in our town centres. Since a global easing of regulations surrounding the product, the CBD market has now become one of the biggest and most profitable in the world.
Sowing the Seeds
Described as “cannabis that won’t get you high”, it might be difficult for outsiders to understand the sudden rise in the popularity of this non-psychoactive form of a plant better associated with getting stoned to Bob Marley tunes and having “the munchies”.
Today, many of us are turning to CBD as a treatment for a whole range of ailments, such as chronic muscular pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, skin complaints and many other conditions. Given the scale of this sudden phenomenon, you might think the use of cannabis for therapeutic benefits is a recent discovery – but you’d be wrong.
The use of cannabis for medical reasons has a long history dating all the way back to ancient China. In 2737 BC, Chinese Emperor Shen Yeng used a cannabis-based tea for a variety of health ailments. As the Romans took their military campaigns into Africa and Europe they discovered cannabis in many of the regions they conquered. Over the centuries since then, the use of cannabis by wealthier members of society has been well documented. The most famous historical figure is perhaps Queen Victoria, who used cannabis oils to alleviate her monthly menstrual cramps.
However, it wasn’t until the 1940s that a team of researchers at Illinois University isolated CBD. This meant that for the very first time, cannabis could be used for medical purposes without the “psychoactive effects”. This was undoubtedly a revolutionary moment in the world of medicine. So, what happened next? Actually, nothing. Then more nothing for the next 70 years.
Due to the negative conations surrounding cannabis itself, governments around the world were reluctant to de-regulate a product they thought might promote or lead to illegal drug use. Even in today’s burgeoning CBD market, there is still confusion and mixed signals from world governments over how best to regulate the product – with laws differing from country to country.
Planting the Seeds of Doubt
Although it is clearly an exciting age for the CBD industry, it is still a tricky time as both customers and businesses have to navigate their way around contradictory legal matters. People who have now come to rely on cannabidiol for health benefits also know too well that although one government might ease CBD legislation, the next one that comes in could quite easily overturn this.
In the USA, one of the world’s biggest CBD markets, Donald Trump promised to crack down on the CBD industry before coming into power. But then seeing the economic potential of the product, signed off the 2018 Farm Bill which allowed full-scale hemp cultivations for commercial purposes.
This opened the floodgates to companies producing the cannabinol product, and the rest . . . well, you know the rest. Today, around 1 in 7 adults in the USA use CBD products on a regular basis. And that number is growing rapidly.
However, much like the rest of the world, politicians in the USA are still debating the legislation around CBD, with many wanting tighter regulations. The fact is when it comes to CBD laws no-one still really knows what the hell is going on.
Coming into Bloom
Despite all this uncertainty, the CBD industry is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world today. Although there is still much debate about the effectiveness of CBD products, people from all walks of life, young and old are turning to the cannabis extract to deal with their medical complaints. The old man who lives around the corner is now more likely to be in the CBD user demographic than the students at your local university.
Anyone who thinks this is a passing fad should look at the figures. According to the Cannabis Trades Association UK, the number of people using CBD in the UK, has doubled every year, since it was legalised in 2016, to a staggering 1.3 million. In the UK alone, the CBD industry has gone on to generate around £300 annually.
According to Forbes, on a global scale, the CBD market is estimated to grow by a whopping 700 percent over the next year, and could reach a staggering $20 billion by 2024. CBD might not be getting its customers high, but the industry is certainly seeing high levels of business.
Despite these booming sales, for CBD businesses there is still the difficulty of marketing their products to their customers.
In North America and Europe, there is an almost blanket ban on the advertising of CBD through the usual mass media channels such as TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. And most of the popular social media companies simply won’t allow CBD advertising on their platforms at all.
Fortunately for CBD customers and businesses, this legislation doesn’t apply to exhibitions. Which explains why CBD expos are becoming so huge and are attracting a growing number of dedicated devotees every year. Whatever the future holds, one thing is clear . . . CBD is here to stay and the industry is making very big waves in the exhibiting world.
Leading exhibition designers, Quadrant2Design, state that “if you’re a CBD business there’s never been a better time to make the most of the many CBD expos that are growing rapidly as a result of advertising limitations”.
CBD customers certainly aren’t lacking in choice when it comes to CBD products. Whether it’s oils, creams, CBD food, e-cigs for CBD, the different forms of CBD being exhibited at these events seems never-ending. For CBD businesses, exhibition shows are the best places to showcase their products. And over the past few years they have become the one place where CBD customers can gather to find out about the latest products and indulge in a shared love of CBD.
But each CBD expo has a different focus. Some are better suited to consumers looking to make informative purchase decisions on the wide range of new products. Others are specifically designed for CBD businesses looking to learn more about their industry and network with potential partners and suppliers.
Let’s look at some of the biggest and most important CBD expos in the world for both CBD consumers and businesses . . .
Hemp & CBD Expo, NEC Birmingham
As the very first CBD expo in the UK, starting the ball rolling back in 2018, the Hemp & CBD Expo can rightly claim to have set the standards for CBD exhibiting events in the UK. Although it has since been overtaken in size and numbers by other expos, this is still one of the best exhibitions for keeping up with the latest trends in the CBD world.
From farmers, seed providers, to distributors, and hemp accessories, the Hemp & CBD Expo taps into the industry’s vast network of suppliers and retailers to provide a must-attend event for any CBD businesses.
Although more of a B2B event, with exhibitions from many of the leading product-based companies in the industry and educational events for general consumers, there is still a great deal on offer for CBD customers.
Europe Canna Expo (Previously the Europe CBD Expo), Excel London
The Europe CBD Expo is one of the biggest international CBD events in the world. The ECE is the perfect event for any CBD business to expand their knowledge and navigate their way through this new and rapidly growing new industry. Focusing on being more of an information expo, the event features a range of workshops, panel discussions, and educational talks from world-leading CBD industry experts.
Attracting many of the big players in Europe’s CBD industry, this is an unmissable event for any CBD business.
The International Cannabis Business Conference, MesseBerlin
If a CBD revolution is sweeping across Europe then Germany is right at the centre of the action. Germany’s CBD industry is growing faster than anywhere else in Europe. Not only is Germany home to the largest economy in Europe but it is now on track to become the CBD industry capital of Europe.
The annual ICBC that takes place in Berlin is the largest B2B industry event in the whole of Europe. With attendees from over 70 countries, the Berlin expo brings over 2500 leading CBD entrepreneurs and decision-makers all together in the German capital. The show will feature seminars and workshops by CBD industry leaders and panel discussions with policy-makers and business owners.
If you’re a new CBD business then the ICBC Berlin could be an invaluable opportunity to make important networking connections and gain insights into the direction of your industry.
Spannabis, Fira de Cornella, Barcelona, Spain
If ICBC Berlin is the industry’s largest B2B event, then Spannabis is officially the biggest CBD event in Europe. It also one of the longest running, having opened its doors way back in 2002.
Spannabis is by far the best expo for CBD customers. In direct contrast to Berlin’s more industry focused exhibition, the Barcelona show is very much a B2C celebration of the hemp product. It is for this reason that Sports Illustrated described Spannabis as “100% a festival of copious cannabis and CBD consumption”.
Cannagrow Expo, Chicago, USA
As the name probably suggests, this event is mainly targeted at growers and producers of CBD. Billed as “the ultimate event dedicated to the art and science of growing CBD”, this is the place where CBD manufacturers can learn about the latest CBD cultivation technology, tools and techniques.
The industry insiders’ expo features over 25 cultivation focused sessions led by world-class CBD growers, and a 115+ vendor hall packed with the latest tools and technology for growing CBD.
But it would be a mistake to assume this event is only for CBD growers. For all types of CBD businesses, Cannagrow is a fantastic opportunity to network with cultivators from all over the world and improve your supply chain.
USA CBD Expo, Conv Center, Las Vega, USA
The USA CBD Expo is officially North America’s largest CBD event. Rather than catering for either solely B2C or B2B attendees, the organisers claim the event is the perfect hybrid between the two. With over 500 brands exhibiting and over 40 talks and seminars from industry experts, it’s easy to see why.
The size of the event and the huge number of visitors and exhibitors make USA CBD Expo the best place for CBD customers and businesses to gather from across the world.
China International Hemp Industry Forum, Harbin, China
Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang, which is one of the world’s biggest CBD growing areas. Growing around 74,000 acres of hemp, Heilongjiang is on par with the overall hemp cultivation in the whole of Europe.
This exhibition event is the perfect platform for overseas investors and companies looking to enter the Chinese market. The exhibition also hosts talks and seminars from business leaders, government regulators, and industry experts from Europe and North America.
For larger CBD companies there is probably no better international event for high-level networking opportunities.
Montreal Cannabis Expo, Palais des Congres, Montreal, Canada
One of the world’s leading expos for the CBD industry, the Montreal Cannabis Expo is an exhibition where all aspects of the CBD world are well covered.
Billed as the “premier event for the cannabis industry”, the expo has an entire exhibition floor where the very latest CBD products and services are presented. The event also showcases exhibitors that work with the medicinal use of cannabis, and who will share information on using CBD to treat health issues including chronic pain and other ailments.
The Montreal Cannabis Expo is the one event to learn and share everything there is to know about the CBD industry.
The Rise of CBD Exhibitions
These are some of the most important CBD events you can attend. Being one of the fastest-growing industries in the world with limited marketing opportunities means CBD expos are significantly different from any other exhibitions. The prohibition of usual mass media advertising means that CDB exhibitions are now the main place where CBD customers can learn about new products and businesses can learn about the direction of their complicated industry.
Whether you are a business looking to launch a new CBD product on the market, or a CBD customer looking to find out more about the range of products on offer or learn more about using the drug to treat your health ailments. . . there’s a CBD exhibition event for you.