A cannabis exhibition, the first in Greece, opened on Friday at the Taw Kwon Do stadium in Faliro to raise public awareness about the medicinal and industrial uses of the plant.

The Athens Cannabis Expo 2018, running to January 14, includes over 100 business entities from Greece and abroad who specialize in the use of cannabis in industry and medicine, the latter used for a wide range of ailments including reducing pain from chronic diseases.

Canadian activist Rick Simpson, who used oil extracted from cannabis to cure his skin cancer and is credited with helping another 5,000 people overcome the disease, is also expected to attend.

Alternate Agriculture Development Minister Yiannis Tsironis and Economy and Development Secretary General Efstratios Zafiris attended the event and spoke with producers and patients.

"Patients with serious illnesses like cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis now have a medicine that we can produce in Greece as well," minister Tsironis said. He added that amendments relating to the use of medical cannabis will be tabled in Parliament in the near future. Greece has the ideal climate for its cultivation, he noted, adding that "it’s time we use our advantages as a country."

Secretary General Zafiris said that the cultivation of medical cannabis "offers tremendous possibilities" while industrial hemp is an ingredient in 22,500 products. The legalization of medical marijuana "is a first step, to be followed by other steps towards regular business production." International and domestic industries are tremendously interested in the production and this "will give a massive boost to Greek industry," he said.

Expo representative Eleni Bellou told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) that "it’s time to stop planting ethical panic and start planting the seed of cannabis economy." She added that cannabis cultivation could "open a development path with great prospects for anyone wishing to take it up, and for the Greek economy as well."

(Tae Kwon Do Stadium, Faliron, Jan. 12-14, 2018. Expo hours: Friday and Saturday 12:00-22:00, Sun. 12:00-21:00. Tickets vary, starting from 6 euros online, 8 euros at the door for one day.)