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How Poland’s largest cannabis event is changing perceptions of the plant

Poland’s largest annual cannabis event, WeedFest, will take place this weekend.



WeedFest takes place in the Polish capital of Warsaw this weekend.

Recent moves by its neighbours towards more liberal cannabis laws have led to some wondering whether Poland is also poised for reform. 

Ahead of the country’s largest cannabis event WeedFest, Michał Witczak, says there is ‘light in the tunnel’, but the fight to shift the attitudes of politicians – and the public – goes on.

Since Poland the medicinal use of cannabis was legalised in 2017, Poland has cemented its place as one of Europe’s largest markets.

But despite the increasing demand, an initial ban on domestic cultivation of medical cannabis left the country relying on imports, often leading to gaps in supply which have seen patients left without medication for months at a time. 

In May 2022, an amendment to the Act on Counteracting Drug Addiction, effectively allowed for the cultivation and manufacture of medical cannabis and earlier this year Can4Med, the country’s first specialised wholesale producer, secured 12kg of medicinal cannabis for distribution in Poland bringing a ‘reliable’ supply to patients. 

As elsewhere in Europe, attitudes towards cannabis are shifting in Poland and some have speculated that it could follow the lead of its neighbouring countries, Germany and Czech Republic to pursue recreational reform. 

From Saturday 27 – Sunday 28 May, Poland’s largest annual cannabis event, WeedFest, will take place in the city of Warsaw, bringing together experts and activists from across the European hemp sector. 

We spoke to organiser, Michał Witczak, about its role in bringing people together to change perceptions and the importance of putting pressure on politicians for reform. 

Since medical cannabis was legalised in 2017, has the perception of cannabis begun to shift in Poland or is there still a lot of stigma associated with it? 

In Poland attitudes in society have moved forward a lot in the last few years when it comes to cannabis. More and more people are aware of the positive properties of cannabis and do not treat it as a drug, but as a medicine that is available on prescription. 

There is still this attitude in Poland that cannabis is a drug and someone who uses it is a drug addict, but through initiatives such as WeedFest, the Free Cannabis March, and Foundations aimed at increasing dawn awareness among the public, among others, we are trying to change the perception of the plant. 

There is a reason why at WeedFest we organise lectures and talks with experts in their fields, so that they can bring our visitors closer to the knowledge of the positive impacts of cannabis.

Following some initial challenges, what is the current state-of-play with access to medicinal cannabis?

At the moment prescriptions are at a pretty good level. In terms of price, it is still quite exorbitant, but over the past few years a great number of dispensaries and clinics for medical cannabis treatment have been established, which translates into the availability of prescriptions. Of course, still many people do not realise that all you need to do is contact a clinic – such as our partner this year Carenabis – and they will guide the entire treatment process, from the first visit. 

Medical marijuana treatment was initiated by several well-known doctors in Poland, who at the very beginning were highly stigmatised for the very idea of treating children (in this case) with cannabis. Fortunately, since then, a great deal has changed in consciousness thanks in particular to the parents of children who have been treated with medical cannabis. The case has received a lot of publicity and thanks to this, the topic of cannabis treatment has entered the mainstream media. 

I am very happy that in my country there are people and doctors who are brave, who are not afraid to take risks, and who have the patient’s welfare and health in mind first and foremost. I hope that more and more doctors will become convinced of this form of therapy and society will continue to change to a more positive view of these forms of treatment.

As other European countries move towards legalising adult-use, do you think Poland will do the same? 

In Poland there has been a battle in parliament for years regarding the legalisation of cannabis for recreational purposes. The cannabis community has been trying to make, not only the public, but also politicians aware that cannabis is not a drug, but a plant that has great potential both for health and also economically.

Our neighbours the Czech Republic [have announced plans] to legalise cannabis to some extent and other European countries are following their path, including Germany, where new draft legislation has already been announced. 

I very much hope that in Poland, too, politicians will finally see that marijuana is the right plant to increase budget revenues from the marijuana tax, because when it comes to the health of society, this is often of secondary importance for politicians.

Regarding the rationale of whether state authorities are considering legalisation, we have a great example from last year, where after a few years they managed to increase the THC limit in hemp to 0.3%. This is the light in the tunnel, but society must put constant pressure on politicians for full legalisation in Poland or vote for a more liberal government. 

Do you get the impression that there is much appetite for reform among the general public? 

Opinions are certainly divided. For years cannabis users were considered drug addicts. At the present time, quite a few people have already measured their views as far as cannabis is concerned, and even more so when they hear that it is medicinal cannabis.

I have been organising WeedFest for four years now and I must admit with great joy that every year I see more and more elderly people coming to our event, usually out of curiosity. Curiosity is the first step to knowledge and when such elderly people go home they will tell their friends and family about these wonderful properties of the plant, and they will hopefully tell more friends. 

I hope that within two to three years cannabis will be legalised in Poland, and society will have a positive, or at least indifferent, attitude to it for the most part.

Have you noticed increasing interest and growth in the industry?

In Poland, the cannabis market is currently under development. There are some very large companies, but every year there are other small companies opening up that also want to participate in this industry by increasing consumer awareness. As a person who has had very close contact with cannabis for many years, I am pleased that the hemp market in Poland has undergone a huge metamorphosis and continues to grow. 

The increase in interest in products made from hemp is growing all the time, and I hope that we are only at the start of this development and in the next few years it can only get better. 

Data shows how the interest of farmers themselves in growing hemp for industrial purposes is increasing, as well as the simplification of regulations, which are intended to make it easier to obtain approval for industrial cultivation. Of course, there’s still a lot to change, but we’ve made a certain milestone, and hopefully things will only get better now.

Can you tell me a bit about WeedFest and what people can expect?

WeedFest was created with the idea of creating a place that is friendly to all people, without divisions, where business is mixed with a relaxed and casual atmosphere which increases the possibility of making new contacts, but also acquaintances. Our event is attended by people looking for business contacts, regular attendees – consumers, but also and perhaps by people looking for a range of health-promoting or ecological solutions. 

They can listen to lectures on the use of hemp in many areas of life, ranging from health to home construction. Hemp is such an ideal plant that it can clothe, feed and give a roof over one’s head. 

I hope that thanks to events like WeedFest it will be possible not only in Poland, but all over the world to restore hemp’s very ancient traditions related not only to medicine, but also to the production of clothes, cosmetics, home construction or even aircraft, biofuel.

Find out more about WeedFest here

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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