Product Earth UK cannabis event.
Photos: Jackson Bowley

I Went to the UK's Biggest Weed Convention

Somehow, in an unassuming Warwickshire village, there's a totally legal three-day camping festival for stoners.

When you think of global cannabis hotspots, you might be forgiven for only picturing the canals of Amsterdam, the mountains of Colorado or the beaches of Jamaica. The list is a growing one, but a place that definitely won’t be on there is Warwickshire.

Once a year, though, this fair county famed for Shakespeare, 2-tone and the UK’s oldest ring road plays host to Product Earth – the UK’s largest legal event for all things cannabis, nootropics and natural medicine. The weekend-long event has a campsite with live music and garishly large arcade games alongside everything from advice on obtaining a medical cannabis prescription to workshops on cooking with the sacred herb.


Where's the Next Amsterdam?

What’s that, you cry out in anguish? That sounds whacky but also a legal grey area? We thought so, too, so this year VICE spent the day at a nondescript event space halfway between Coventry and Leamington Spa to see what it’s all about.

Entering the venue is like stepping into weed Xanadu. The main room resembles a Vegas trade show, with smaller stalls on the outside surrounding larger ones in the middle – like little weed moons circling a big old bud planet. The smell of freshly sparked zoot hits like incense, slightly tingling the nose and gently hazing the entire building. 

A jar saying tangarine dream cbd at Product Earth UK cannabis event.

Photo: Jackson Bowley

Every stall offers something different: Some sell merch for various cannabis brands from the UK and abroad, whilst others showcase the finest grow lights, soil supplements and, er, CBD-infused lube.

“You’re welcome to try some,” says Lauren from 533CBD, the Eastbourne-based business proudly touting the lube. Lauren – who’s asked for her surname not to be included for privacy reasons, like others in this piece – squeezes a tiny drop of the skunky-smelling sex oil onto my finger. I promptly rub it into my hands like some kind of erotic sanitizer.

“We were here last year, and it’s definitely the biggest event in this scene,” says Thommy Meredith, 533’s owner and co-founder of Eastbourne Cannabis Club. “It’s changed a fair amount over the years. When we were here first, it was divided between stoners, activists and businessmen just here to make money, but now that line has become more blurred.”

Writer in front of a big weed cushion at Product Earth UK cannabis event.

Photo: Jackson Bowley

Nearby, there’s a stall that looks like it’s selling props for a Dexter’s Laboratory musical, but instead of selling shrink rays to reduce narky teachers to comically small sizes, the contraptions here are solely for the purpose of shrinking large amounts of cannabis flower down to comically small amounts of oil.

“They don’t blow up very often,” says one stall vendor as I look at his steampunk arsenal of tubular metal and dials. “But it does happen when you don’t follow the rules – or if you smoke whilst not keeping an eye on the butane.”

A person creating a glass weed pipe at Product Earth UK cannabis event.

Photo: Jackson Bowley

Walking around, it’s striking how nice everyone is, too. Security are everywhere, but they may as well go and have one of the massages being offered in the corner. Despite how overwhelmingly male and football match-esque the crowd is, the sweet stroke of the sacred herb seems to have dampened any derby day testosterone-filled boisterousness, and the bar is one of the least utilised facilities in the place. 

On the surface, cannabis culture is very macho – but illness isn’t gender specific. The introduction of medical cannabis in 2018 has, at least partially, dented this, and other communities have started carving out spaces of their own.

A weed tattoo done at Product Earth UK cannabis event.

Photo: Jackson Bowley

“The ‘gangster’ attitude around weed can be quite aggressive and intimidating for some people,” says Faye Douglas, owner of Super Natural Seeds and Tastebudz Genetics, a duo of female-owned inclusive seed companies with a stall here. Amongst other things, they’ve got a tattoo artist working from a specially curated flash sheet – currently tatting a cute little mushroom on a well-medicated and tracksuited dude. “Cannabis is for everyone and it’s important that everyone is able to find something that suits them.”


Slightly further into the maze of VR DMT simulators and tactfully ambiguous specialist compost stalls, we stumble upon a cooking demo area where we find Corey finishing up a chocolate painting workshop. “This is just plain chocolate but I do work in cannabis,” she assures us, as we eye the chocolate lollies decorated with classics from the Illuminati Eye to crudely drawn dicks. 

Corey holding her chocolate lollipops at Product Earth UK cannabis event.

Photo: Jackson Bowley

“I’ve worked plenty of jobs that I’ve hated, and one day, I just decided to do what I love. It’s been a slow start but I’m hoping that one day I’ll be able to bring cannabis cooking workshops to events like birthdays and hen parties,” Corey continues. “It feels like legalisation is just a matter of time now and it’s good to be in the best place for when that happens.”

Corey perfectly exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit of the stalls at Product Earth. Whilst some aspects are similar to a regular festival – music on an outdoor mainstage (Damian Marley on heavy rotation), street food and a camping area with shisha bars – the overarching focus is really on the brands and the businesses that are doing bits in the world of marijuana and most of the results are pretty impressive. 

Lots of different coloured bongs at Product Earth UK cannabis event.

Photo: Jackson Bowley

An insane amount of raw skill and craftsmanship goes into creating a bespoke melon-sized glass bong in the shape of a barnacle-riddled giant squid or encrusting an actual bud in gold leaf so you can hang it around your neck like a stoned King Midas. And that’s reflected in the four- to five-figure price tags and the fact that you might only spot them in the most prestigious head shops.


Then, there are the five-foot blow-up joints being carted about the place. One of the event’s main sponsors is an American brand called Blazy Susan – they’re quite a big deal across the pond, best known for producing a line of bright pink rolling papers and rotating trays. They have a stall that looks like a deleted scene from the Barbie movie and offer a friendly dose of competition via a rolling contest. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I step in and, in 25 short seconds, cement my place in the, um, fastest 90 percent of rollers in the building.

Writer Joe doing the rolling competition at Product Earth UK cannabis event.

Photo: Jackson Bowley

Blazy Susan’s sponsorship says a lot. When a weed paraphernalia brand from the U.S. can dish out thousands to sponsor an event in the UK, where weed is still illegal, it must be a significant indicator that the trajectory of cannabis in the UK is at least unofficially aligned with the U.S. and Europe.

“Cannabis is on a journey from drug to medicine to lifestyle,” says Gavin Sathianathan, Product Earth’s director. “On the U.S. West Coast it’s already a lifestyle and on the East it’s in the transition from medicine to lifestyle. In Europe, we’re still on the path from drug to medicine and we’re just showcasing what the eventual move towards a lifestyle could look like over here.”

“We’re not just a cannabis event anymore and haven’t been for a long time. We want to celebrate the culture around natural medicines,” adds Matthew Clifton, the event’s CEO. “We want to capture the zeitgeist of people looking for natural medicines and provide them with high-quality products that are well regulated.”


In an environment where every flat surface is fair game for a rolling tray, and guys are carrying decadent glass contraptions around in Peli Cases – it’s easy to forget that the star of the show this weekend is still a controlled, Class B substance with a maximum of five years for possession.

“It’s great to come to these places and feel free with all these like-minded people,” continues Corey, “but once this weekend's over, I’ll just go back to being demonised for the medicine I find works best for me.” 

Cannabis gold necklace at Product Earth UK cannabis event.

The real bud and gold leaf necklace. Photo: Jackson Bowley

Heading home with a bag full of free paraphernalia, stickers and a golden nug necklace, we share our train with a crowd of drunk football fans celebrating an away win. They’re harmless, making a good time of chucking a water bottle around, singing about people they suspect might be paedophiles. This adds an unnecessary layer of tension to an overpriced train journey. 

It’s a tired cliché, but compared to the room full of sleepy-looking guys, smoking warheads and drinking cans of Fanta we’ve left behind, it’s obvious what makes me feel more uncomfortable. In fact, in an environment where you might expect a level of guardedness towards the media, the most hostility we received was from a masseuse who disapproved of the tension in my neck.


Lots of rolling papers at Product Earth UK cannabis event.

Photo: Jackson Bowley