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Tag: Europe

malta

Malta To Start Accepting Cannabis Club Applications By February

Malta made continental history late in 2021 when lawmakers passed Europe’s first nationwide adult-use legalization measure. Prior to legalization passing in Malta, the only two other countries that had previously passed national legalization measures were Uruguay in 2013 and Canada in 2018. However, unlike its predecessors, Malta’s legalization model does not provide for sales through pharmacies, storefronts, and for-profit delivery services. Rather, Malta’s legalization model will be built on non-profit cannabis clubs, applications for which people can start submitting as early as February 2023.

Despite legalization’s passage in Malta late last year, there are still no legal means by which to purchase legal adult-use cannabis products. Whereas consumers have a buffet of options from which to make cannabis purchases in Canada, and to a lesser extent Uruguay (residents only), consumers in Malta have continued to wait until the regulatory framework is set up for non-profit cannabis clubs. Thankfully, there appears to be some progress on that front.

Accepting Applications In 2023

The non-profit cannabis club model is not a new concept. Barcelona, where we co-host the world’s largest cannabis super-conference every year along with Spannabis, is home to numerous private cannabis clubs where people can acquire cannabis as well as consume it in a social setting. Uruguay is also home to hundreds of private cannabis clubs, although Uruguay has implemented a regulated system for cannabis clubs compared to Spain where clubs still operate in somewhat of a grey area of the law.

In Malta there will only be two legal sources for adult-use cannabis. One of them is home cultivation. Adult households in Malta can cultivate up to four plants, per the law that was passed late last year. The other source for adult-use cannabis will, of course, be cannabis clubs. However, clubs cannot exist without first having a license, and generally speaking a license cannot be obtained until there is an application and approval process set up. That last part is reportedly finally happening in February 2023 in Malta.

“The Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis will be in a position to start accepting applications for cannabis club licenses by next February, according to Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg.” stated Malta Today in its domestic coverage. Malta’s Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis will oversee the non-profit sector, including the cannabis club application process. Leonid McKay is currently the executive chair of the authority.

What About The European Union?

Currently, an adult-use legalization measure is looming in Germany, with the nation’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach currently lobbying the European Union to gain approval prior to formally introducing the measure so that lawmakers in Germany can officially consider it. While some lawmakers in Germany have called for the measure to be introduced immediately, the Health Minister appears to still be seeking EU approval first, at least for the time being.

An obvious question that international cannabis observers are asking on social media and beyond is why is Malta legalizing without so much European Union involvement compared to Germany? It’s a straightforward question that yields some fairly complicated answers. The less complicated answer is that Malta’s legalization model is far more limited than what is being proposed in Germany. Lawmakers in Germany are proposing a nationwide adult-use market where legal purchases will be made at storefronts, similar to what is going on in Canada but on a much larger scale. Malta will have non-profit clubs where people can acquire cannabis, but only if they are members and membership will be limited in many ways I’d assume.

The more complex answer is that Germany’s Health Minister is likely pursuing a strategy that will save legal and political headaches down the road. If the European Union gives its blessing to Germany’s plan, then it largely thwarts potential legal challenges from other EU member nations and mitigates some of the probability of German legalization becoming a political punching bag for cannabis prohibitionists. EU approval would be a final answer in many ways, and while challenges would likely still be pursued, it would be nearly guaranteed that legalization would overcome any challenges if EU approval was granted prior to a legalization measure’s introduction. With that being said, the EU presumably realizes that the decision on Germany will set a precedent, and a big one at that, so it’s not a decision that will be made hastily. The longer it takes for the decision to be rendered, the louder the calls will become within Germany’s borders for lawmakers to hit the gas pedal. In the meantime, the framework for Malta’s limited legalization model will continue to develop.

Europe, Germany, malta

europe topography map

Will Europe’s Emerging Cannabis Industry Reach Its Full Potential?

The emerging cannabis industry is now legal in more places in Europe than at any other point in time since the dawn of prohibition, and that is clearly good news for consumers and patients across the continent. A great deal of reform still needs to take place to be sure, however, momentum is building and the European legalization light at the end of the prohibition tunnel continues to shine brighter with every passing year.

One of the best examples of that momentum on display came late last year when Malta became the first European country to pass a national adult-use legalization measure. While Malta’s legalization model is not as robust as the models found in Canada and Uruguay, the passage of a national legalization measure was still historic nonetheless. Adult-use pilot programs are already underway at the local level in Denmark, and those programs are also expected to be launched in the near future elsewhere. Yet another example can be found via low-THC cannabis products, or ‘cannabis light,’ which are now commonly bought and sold all over Europe.

The Biggest Domino Of Them All

The largest cannabis policy elephant in the figurative continental decision-making room is, of course, Germany. The European country is home to the continent’s largest economy and Germany shares more borders with other nations than any other country in Europe. Obviously, Germany holds tremendous political power in Europe and at the international level, so the significance of legalization there cannot be overstated. With the country trending towards launching an adult-use cannabis industry in the coming years, every cannabis observer around the world is glued to what is going on within Germany’s borders.

Not only will Germany likely prove to be the largest domino of them all and open the floodgates to reform elsewhere in Europe, Germany will also likely serve as the blueprint for legalization efforts and models in other countries, especially within the continent. Part of what is enticing about Germany is that it is such an enormous economy with a huge population, however, the fact that Germany is doing a lot of the heavy lifting right now when it comes to crafting cannabis policies and industry regulations on such a grand scale is also significant, as provisions will be adopted in part or entirely by other nations. No country will have to ‘start from scratch’ if they do not want to.

Tolerating The Cannabis Industry Versus Embracing It

Logically, there is a huge difference between European lawmakers and regulators tolerating the cannabis industry versus embracing it. Casual public policy observers may think that simply allowing the cannabis industry to legally operate is enough to ensure success, yet that is not the case. The emerging cannabis industry presents a once in a generation opportunity to do a lot of good for all of society, and thus it should be embraced by lawmakers and regulators as such.

Every government benefit and assistance that is afforded to other large industries in Europe should also be afforded to the emerging cannabis industry. Additionally, all nations need to work together to harmonize regulations to help mitigate unforeseen hurdles and barriers to industry growth. By embracing the emerging cannabis industry governments will then be able to harness it to create much-needed jobs, help suffering patients, boost local economies, and generate public revenue throughout the continent, including in rural areas.

Europe

european flags

Prohibition Treaties Will Not Stop Cannabis Legalization In Germany

I have helped work on cannabis reform efforts since the late 1990s when medical cannabis reform initiatives were being heavily pursued on the West Coast of the United States. Those efforts culminated in election victories in California in 1996, and Oregon and Washington in 1998. Since that time I have seen cannabis prohibitionists across the U.S. basically recycle their failed talking points and tactics from that era over and over again, and the same thing appears to be happing in Germany right now.

Unless you have been living under a rock then you know that Germany is trending towards launching an adult-use cannabis market, and also that once the launch occurs, Germany’s market is going to be considerably more massive than that of Uruguay and Canada combined. Unfortunately, there are futile attempts ramping up that are geared towards halting the process, with the latest one involving cannabis opponents hurling the idea that cannabis cannot be legalized in Germany ‘due to European treaties.’

Theory Versus Reality

Is Germany bound by European and international treaties, including ones that prohibit cannabis? Yes, obviously. Are Canada and Uruguay also bound by international treaties that prohibit adult-use cannabis commerce, including ones that Germany is also a part of? Also yes. With all of that being said, laws are only as good as the enforcement behind them, and just as the sky did not fall and the international community didn’t perform whatever the global community version of a SWAT raid is on Canada and Uruguay when they launched adult-use cannabis sales, the same will prove to be true in Germany when they inevitably launch adult-use sales within their own borders.

Leading up to legalization in Canada in 2018, Russia tried the ‘what about international treaties’ argument in an attempt to derail Canada’s efforts, to no avail. The same thing happened in Uruguay in 2013 when the United Nations tried the same tactic (and failed). It’s a similar concept that I personally witnessed in the United States when opponents tried and failed with their ‘but cannabis is federally illegal!’ arguments. Bad laws are meant to be broken, and cannabis prohibition is one of the worst public policies in human history.

Even within Europe there are examples of jurisdictions disregarding continental and international treaties when it comes to adult-use cannabis commerce. Late last year Malta passed an adult-use legalization measure, although they have yet to issue any licenses and access there is going to be different compared to what will eventually be implemented in Germany. Regardless, there has been no crackdown in Malta as a result of passing a measure that is in direct defiance of certain treaties. Adult-use cannabis pilot programs area already in place in Denmark, with Switzerland getting ready to launch its own pilot program, and eventually, the Netherlands. Again, international treaties have yet to derail any of those efforts in those European countries.

An Obvious Need For A New Approach

Earlier this month European anti-drug coordinators met in Prague, and Czech National Anti-drug Coordinator Jindřich Vobořil called for a new approach to cannabis policy and regulation in Europe at the continental level.

“We hope it will be a coordinated effort (to regulate the cannabis market). It is impossible not to talk about it on an EU-wide basis. Prohibition has not proved to be effective enough; we need to look for other models of control. A controlled market may be the only possible solution,” Vobořil said according to Euractiv.

Cannabis reform is on the move in Europe and in every other corner of the earth, and with it, the spread of the emerging cannabis industry. Lawmakers and regulators can try all of the delay tactics that they can think of, and it’s likely a safe bet that they certainly will, however, those efforts will always prove to be futile. At best, all it will do is delay the inevitable. The cannabis industry toothpaste is out of the tube and it is not going back in, and it’s beyond time that treaties reflect that undeniable fact and catch up with reality.

Europe, Germany

latin america

Latin American Cannabis Exports To Europe Are Increasing – And Increasingly Important

Central and South America are playing an ever more vital role in European cannabis market development

The first shipment of CBD from Ecuador to Switzerland has successfully landed. Even though the amounts were small – 5kg of hemp flower and one litre of CBD extract – the longer-term impact is potentially very large. Indeed, this step is an important one across the EU’s map of cannabis reform where there is a growing need for both hemp and higher THC products – but a growing question about where affordable flower and products will come from.

So far, the Ecuadorian experiment has been neither cheap or easy. Bureaucratic hurdles on both sides of the border were the order of the day. However, the potential of Latin American and African exports entering Europe is something that is beginning to trickle down – from the largest producers to smaller enterprises.

This is true of the CBD and medical market. It is also clearly going to be on the drawing board for recreational too.

Costa Rican President Fast Tracks Recreational Cannabis Reform

The newly sworn in President, Rodrigo Chaves, has prioritized the legalization of recreational cannabis while also promising to publish long awaited regulation on the medical side – which has already been approved by Congress.

This in turn will open up two important sources of income for the country – both domestically and via export.

Whether recreational reform clears the Costa Rican political opposition still aligned against it is another matter – but with a president enthusiastically behind the same, this is much more likely to happen in Chaves’ first term. This is even more the case when one considers evolving reform discussions elsewhere.

Beyond this, such developments will cement Costa Rica’s popularity as a medical vacation destination – if not create the second recreational market in the region (after Uruguay).

On the export side of the discussion, things will also become very interesting. One of the outstanding questions about pending recreational reform in Germany is where such product would come from, if outside of the country. Shipping properly regulated product between countries where cannabis reform is federally and recreationally legal may well end up being one solution to the problem of compliance with international drug control treaties still in force.

This discussion of course is not just limited to Ecuador and Costa Rica. Columbia is beginning to look even more strategically important in the provision of at least medical cannabis to Europe. And then of course there is the unrealized potential of Uruguay.

No matter what, it is clear that Europe is going to see an influx of cannabis flower if not products from this part of the world – and increasingly it is on a timeline of sooner rather than later.

Europe, latin america

europe flags european

Finding The Right Balance Among European Cannabis Industry Regulatory Models

The entire European continent seems to be trending towards legalization for the most part, and for the small group of nations that are still dragging their feet, the writing is on the wall. It’s only a matter of time before they get on the right side of history because every day that goes by is a day that other nations inch closer to beating them to the cannabis revenue punch.

Cannabis policy is not as straightforward as many seem to think. Simply stating that cannabis should be legal in general terms is one thing. Crafting national cannabis policies and regulations is a completely different matter and requires much more thought and planning, and that is just at a national level.

Just as Europe is a continent made up of many nations, so too will it be a continent made up of many different approaches to cannabis policy and regulation. Below is just a small sampling of cannabis policy facets that lawmakers and regulators need to consider when drafting measures:

  • Home Cultivation – plant limits, canopy size limits, public view restrictions, etc.
  • Commercial Cultivation – zoning, infrastructure needs, licensing
  • Commercial Sales – allowed or continued to be prohibited?
  • Imports/Exports – if yes, what regulations are involved?
  • Social Use – can people consume in clubs, and if so, under what conditions?

Those are just a handful of things that need to be taken into consideration, and even those have several sub-facets as well. It can be a daunting task, especially when considering that Europe is composed of dozens of countries, each with its own identity, culture, and approach to governing.

Right now there are already several different cannabis industry models in existence in Europe. Malta passed an adult use legalization measure late last year, although its model is based on home cultivation and non-profit entities from which consumers can source their cannabis.

Low-THC cannabis, or ‘cannabis light,’ has been sold all over Switzerland since 2017, and a pilot adult-use cannabis industry program for higher THC varieties is launching this summer in the country as well. Pilot programs are also in operation in Denmark, and hopefully soon, the Netherlands.

All nations need to learn from each other and collaborate to enact continental-level rules and regulations to help ensure that public safety concerns are addressed in a way that still allows the industry to reach its full potential (within reason).

Education is key, and with that in mind, we recommend that people check out a timely report from Augur Associates. The report is titled, ‘Which models for cannabis adults use regulation in Europe? – findings, objectives and proposals for legalisation.’

Augur Associates is a Paris-based consultancy agency dedicated to the sustainable and cutting-edge cannabis and hemp industry. In addition to their latest report, they have also published a number of other reports dealing with the emerging cannabis industry and shifting political landscape.

Their latest publication is a robust 271-page report in its complete version, with the additional option of downloading the summary version. Both options are free at Augur and Associates’ website (previously linked to in this article). The report is also coupled with a number of insightful recommendations from the publishers for lawmakers and regulators to consider.

All eyes are on Europe for the foreseeable future, and information of this value does not come along often, especially for free. Check out the latest report from Augur Associates because the more timely information that you know, the better suited you are to make informed decisions. It could mean the difference between you crushing it in the evolving international cannabis industry or fizzling out not long after you get started.

augur associates, Europe

Europe map with pins

First Of Its Kind Multilateral EU Policy Meeting On Cannabis Held In Luxembourg

The first of many high-level meetings on the legalization of cannabis was held in Luxembourg between representatives from Germany, Luxembourg, and Malta

An unprecedented meeting occurred on Friday, July 15 – just three days before the beginning of the ICBC’s Global Investment Forum in Berlin.

Ministers from Germany, Luxembourg and Malta met for the first time to kick off a series of meetings between the countries on how to legalize recreational cannabis.

There were three sessions. Two focussed on international and European law. The third looked at the opportunities and challenges ahead as public policy and regulations change.

After the meeting, they issued a highly revealing joint statement along with personal comments from attendees. According to the Luxembourg Minister of Justice, Sam Tanson, “Almost half a century after the entry into force of our law establishing the criminalisation of drug-related behaviour, namely the law of 19 February 1973 on the sale of medicinal substances and the fight against drug addiction, Luxembourg still pursues a drug policy focused mainly on repression. However, as our statistics show, the failure of this approach cannot be denied, and the time has come to develop a new approach, based on dialogue with the states that have made the same observation and the European and international institutions.”

The Key Takeaways

For those who have been watching global developments, this multilateral meeting was actually unprecedented. Nothing has happened quite like it on the path to legalizing the plant in the last decade.

The key takeaways were equally historic. Namely:

  • The demand for cannabis – both for medical and recreational use has grown exponentially. In fact, cannabis now accounts for 39% of all illegal drug traffic in the region. Unless the underground economy is undermined, this represents a major security threat from the amount of cash that is being handed over to organized crime.
  • There is no way to control any form of cannabis unless the laws are changed, and regulations are established.
  • Law enforcement is being challenged by the fact that it is no longer possible to distinguish between cannabinoids without expensive testing.
  • There is a need for EU governments to reassess their cannabis policies which reflect changing realities as well as to strengthen social programs geared towards health and prevention rather than criminalizing use.

There is no word yet on the schedule of meetings, or whether the first group will expand the invitee list to other legalizing countries, but given the broad scope of the inquiry, it would appear that these three countries are setting the table for a European-wide discussion about all cannabis regulation, and for all purposes.

Stay tuned. This is getting interesting.

Europe

Europe map with pins

European Parliament Members Form New Cannabis Reform Group

The European continent is in the midst of a cannabis revolution with policies being reformed for the better in a growing number of countries. Malta became the first country on the continent to pass an adult-use cannabis legalization measure late last year, and it most certainly will not be the last to do so.

Cannabis reform is a serious issue that every country needs to explore thoroughly and with an open mind. Also, countries need to collaborate as much as possible to help ensure that their domestic laws don’t create unnecessary hurdles for the emerging industry.

In order for Europe’s legal cannabis industry to reach its full potential, not only do domestic laws within individual countries need to be sensible, but there also needs to be a concerted effort at the continental level to adopt policies, rules, and regulations that make sense.

Members of the European Parliament seem to agree with the previously stated needs and have formed a group involving multiple political parties and representing multiple nations. Per Malta Today:

Five members of the European Parliament hailing from different political groups and different EU Member States have come together to create an informal interest group of MEPs who support human rights-based policies relating to the personal use of cannabis.

In an open letter to the 705 Members of the European Parliament encouraging MEPs to join the informal group, MEPs Cyrus Engerer (Malta, SD), Monica Semedo (Luxembourg, Renew), Mikuláš Peksa (Czech Republic, Greens), Dorian Rookmaker (The Netherlands, ECR) and Luke “Ming” Flanagan (Ireland, The Left) welcome the recent developments on cannabis legalisation in Germany, Malta and Luxembourg and call for more information sharing between Member States on the topic.

How fruitful the group’s efforts will end up being is anyone’s guess at this point, however, it’s definitely a worthwhile endeavor and hopefully more members will join, especially from countries like Germany and Switzerland where the cannabis industry is booming.

With Germany inching ever-closer to legalization, and the likely opening of the legalization floodgates once that happens, it’s more important now than ever for lawmakers across Europe to join the conversation if they haven’t already, and to let facts and evidence lead the way instead of letting prohibition politics drive the conversation.

Europe

cannabis plants garden

Setting Cannabis Home Grow Standards Across Europe

Current proposals range from 4-5 plants – but is this a number based on any kind of reality?

Malta has just allowed it. Luxembourg and Portugal are on the brink of doing so. Germany almost certainly will put language in place allowing the same.

The real question is how are governments coming up with this number? Further, does it really do anything other than supply recreational users who are diligent with their horticultural efforts? And perhaps more importantly, will patients be bound by the same regulations?

The reality is that this critical part of reform is not getting the attention it deserves.

A Numbers Game

As anyone who has actually grown cannabis knows, a successful, bountiful grow takes a couple of things to maximize yield. The first is the right growing environment. Indoors, which is ideal for users in Europe, requires a good LED light, a grow tent, fans, and an extractor. This is easily a four-to-six-hundred-dollar investment (at the low end). Outdoors, it means that you are limited to one crop a year.

Beyond this, there is then yield to consider. A good cultivar can yield about 400-600 grams per plant every three to four months. An auto strain (meaning that the plant produces flower regardless of light intensity) can speed up this process to two months per crop, although yields tend to be lower. The bottom line is even if you use a high-yielding auto flower crop, you are unlikely to get more than 1 kilo of flower per plant every two months.

Most recreational users cannot use 4-5 kilos of flower every two months. Most patients can. But this is just the optimal situation. More likely is the production of perhaps several kilos a year.

This is fine for the average recreational user. It is, however, sub-optimal for those who need the most help.

Decrim and Patient Licensing

Another option, which has not caught on in Europe, yet, is the idea of issuing limited cultivation permits for patients and patient groups. This ensures that a person who needs a steady and larger than average amount of cannabis will be kept in meds without bankrupting them. It does not mean that a cannabis patient cannot go to a doctor too and obtain some help with regulated meds too.

It also creates a non-profit medical market. See Canada.

This concept is problematic in a highly regulated medical market like most European countries. However, so is the reality that a majority of patients who should qualify for treatment not being able to access it without incredible hurdles or the possibility of a criminal conviction.

The bottom line is that every European country is still struggling with acceptance – and that starts with a humane home grow policy beyond creating an infrastructure that helps the legitimate industry flourish.

Europe

luxembourg

Luxembourg Invites EU Nations To Cannabis Legalization Meeting

For a brief time, it was expected that Luxembourg would become the first country in Europe to pass a national adult-use legalization measure. As we now know, that title actually went to Malta, which passed such a measure late last year.

The push for legalization continues in Luxembourg, with details recently surfacing regarding what the country’s legalization model will entail. It appears that Luxembourg’s model will largely revolve around home cultivation, and possession will be mostly treated in a decriminalized fashion.

Households will be able to cultivate up to 4 plants, however, all of the harvested cannabis has to remain in private. People caught possessing less than 3 grams outside of their home will be subjected to a 145 euro fine. Anything beyond possession of 3 grams will be considered intent to distribute.

Lawmakers in Luxembourg are indicating that further reform will occur, yet there is no timeline for any additional reforms. Given how long it has taken Luxembourg to get to this point, and considering that even this limited legalization bill has yet to be approved, it’s anyone’s guess how long it will take for the country to implement a more robust legalization framework.

For what it is worth, Luxembourg has apparently set up a meeting to take place next month that will be solely dedicated to legalization policy discussions, and Luxembourg has invited other European nations to join. Per Luremburger Wort (translated to English):

However, it was also a good thing that the new German government was moving in the same direction when it came to drug policy. “We now have strong allies in the greater region and the Netherlands and Malta are also going down this path. We are no longer alone.” In July, Luxembourg invites like-minded EU countries to a meeting.

As mentioned in the excerpt, Germany, which shares a border with Luxembourg, is expected to legalize cannabis for adult use this year, and its model will be considerably more robust compared to what is currently being pursued in Luxembourg.

In addition to including a home cultivation provision, German lawmakers are expected to roll out what will instantly become the largest regulated adult-use sales model on earth.

It’s unclear which nations will take up Luxembourg on its invite, however, it’s likely a safe bet to assume that if other European countries join the meeting there will be a wide away of approaches to legalization policy expressed in the meeting. Hopefully the meeting boosts momentum for legalization and yields favorable results across the continent.

Europe, luxembourg

cannabis plant flower garden

Home Grow Europe?

Several political initiatives are moving forward in multiple countries that would give European citizens the right to grow their own – what are the opportunities and pitfalls?

Home grow is a controversial topic in the cannabis industry just about everywhere. On one hand, it is the legal loophole that began to establish the industry in places like Canada (and one presumes European countries like Luxembourg). On the other hand, it represents considerable competition to the nascent medical and recreational industry. After all, if people are growing their own, they won’t buy it.

The cost of cannabis, especially for patients who use far more of it than recreational users, is one of the biggest reasons this entire discussion remains politically relevant. This is especially true in places like Germany – where theoretically at least, sick patients should be able to get their meds covered for a co-pay of about $11 a month. Many – if not still the majority of those who should qualify – are not or just falling out of the system altogether.

However, it is clear that the debate has progressed significantly in Europe. Mention home grow even a few years ago in an industry event in Germany and one would be looked at as a dangerous “radical.”

Now the government is again considering the same as Luxembourg and Portugal move towards legalizing limited home grow, Italy has a legal precedent set by its highest court, and Germany tries to figure out how to incorporate this idea into the recreational system they are now holding hearings on. Patient home grow briefly became legal here in 2016 before the medical law was passed in 2017.

How Do Patients Fit In?

One of the most important reasons for legalizing home grow is patient need – especially at a time when most doctors are still not educated about cannabis – and the sickest patients are still struggling with access on the cost front.

However, so far in Europe at least, this is not a discussion that has gotten much traction. Indeed “home grow” has been a topic that is mostly focused on those who want to use the plant for “recreational” purposes. Growing four to five plants in an indoor grow box will not create enough cannabis for patients. It is, however, plenty for the average occasional rec user.

Beyond this, the idea of having legal non-profit patient collectives has not entered the discussion (so far). In Spain the clubs are “non-profit,” but they are not targeted to patients but rather the general cannabis-using public.

However, the reality remains that without some kind of relief, or at least recognition that patients need to not only use more cannabis to manage their conditions, but also grow more, any reform that excludes this reality will continue to put the sickest and most vulnerable people in danger of being criminalized merely for being sick.

Europe

Europe map with pins

The Top 10 Cannabis Economies In Europe

Things are starting to change in a hurry on the cannabis front across the EU. Here is a brief overview of the leading cannabis countries across the region as it experiences a European “summer of cannabis love”

Things are definitely moving in Europe on the cannabis front this summer. Countries are beginning to see a post-Covid wave of enthusiasm if not continual reminders from the industry as it exists so far, to finally address lingering cannabis prohibition of both the medical and recreational kind.

Just as in the United States, where conservative states (like North Carolina) cannot deny at least medical efficacy anymore, there is a certain logic that is driving reform across Europe right now.

There has already been a raft of interesting announcements this spring – starting of course with Germany. But things are not just moving aus Deutschland.

Read on for a brief overview of the top ten cannabis countries in Europe

Germany

If there was a tipping point, it would be Germany’s to claim. The largest economy in Europe is going recreational – at least legislatively – this year. This is going to be a very interesting waterfall moment. Come 2024, at the latest, the cannabis map of Europe is going to look very different. Germany currently has three cultivators of EU GMP cannabis, scores of hemp farmers, multiple narcotics distributors, and a growing ecosystem of a country just pre-reform. Think a much higher regulated Colorado circa 2012 but with a very different sprache. It will also be in a position to rival London for fundraising – and not in Berlin but in Frankfurt. When Deutschland goes green, expect a tidal wave of reform to follow across Europe.

Holland

The land that created the eponymous symbol of reform – the coffee shop, is certainly in the heavy hitter column, no matter how many threats keep popping up to shut out tourists in Amsterdam. In the meantime, a national cultivation system that supplies such establishments outside of major cities is setting up to finally get going next year. And do not count out the country when it comes to medical cultivation – even if it is just for export.

Portugal

It looks like recreational reform is back on the national agenda after the Left Bloc raised the topic recently. The country whose world-famous laissez-faire approach to decriminalization (and copied by Oregon) is shaping up to be a major feeder market for the European medical biz. In the meantime, the calls for full reform, which were stymied last year with the fall of the old government, are clearly back on the table this summer.

Greece

Unlike their Dutch neighbours to the north, the Greeks are opening up the country to the cannabis industry because of foreign investment. It is also clear that medical tourism is going to be high on the agenda as things continue to cook. In the meantime, the country is beginning to export medical cannabis, but it is still not living up to its full potential. Give it a few summers, however, and the ability to travel, as a patient, to a warm, inviting climate where a new doctor will issue a prescription, will be understandably enticing – and to a global clientele.

Switzerland

The trial is on! Cities are continuing to announce their cannabis plans. Switzerland may be proceeding slowly and cautiously, with few participants, but right now they are the leader in rolling out a regulated industry of the recreational kind – and from scratch. Cultivation is also happening here, although it will not necessarily be the most economical export. Swiss farmers are competing against those in warmer climates – and with lower labour rates.

Italy

The country’s highest court may have blocked a referendum on reform this year, but medical cannabis cultivation is expanding, as is the hemp market. Beyond this, Italy is on the list of one of the top countries in the region to allow home grow by legislative muster. Despite being more conservative in many ways than Spain, the Italians are managing to beat them to the punch on the cannabis conversation. It may be happening in stranger ways, but right now, there is definitely a regulated industry that is popping and getting stronger.

Spain

Home of the cannabis club, Spain is teetering right now on the verge of medical reform at a federal level. It is an advancement, but there is so much more bubbling just beneath the surface. The clubs are not going to go away. The hemp industry is established. The country has pharmaceutical-grade cannabis being shipped to other European countries. It is certainly ahead of other countries, but there is a great deal of resistance to full and final reform. Don’t expect Spain to be a market leader, but rather a follower.

UK

If certain members of Parliament get their way, the UK’s CBD biz could go into overtime. The reason? The proposed elimination of Novel Food applications. In the meantime, there are close to 6,000 products on, or close to, the market. Medical cannabis cultivation and extraction projects are also underway, especially on the islands surrounding the mainland. Beyond this, the mayor of London, the country’s largest city, is loudly and internationally suggesting that, at minimum, cannabis be decriminalized in certain boroughs of London and that the police might stop racially profiling minor drug offenders. The British investment market, however, is one of the hottest in the world right now. If you are looking for financing anywhere in Europe, you cannot ignore London right now.

Luxembourg

The country’s government has been dangling recreational cannabis reform like a carrot for the last four years. With time running out on fulfilling their pledge, the country is apparently moving forward with a surprisingly conservative home grow proposal at a federal level. When Germany passes reform legislation, expect Luxembourg to be close behind. This was the pattern on the medical front too. It is a rich, but small country. Major policy changes like this are best done by larger countries in the bloc.

The Czech Republic

The CR has taken forward steps on this entire conversation consistently over the last five to seven years. Right now, medical reform is in full swing. Even more interestingly, much like Thailand, the country is more concerned with treating patients than enforcing EU GMP standards. This means that when Germany goes recreational, expect the Czechs to follow shortly thereafter.

Europe

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European CBD Novel Food Evaluations Put On Hold

Cannabidiol (CBD) products are extremely popular around the world, with consumers and patients buying them every day around the globe from brick and mortar stores, online, and virtually every other way that people buy any other type of product.

A vast majority of those products are either under-regulated or completely unregulated. That is not to say that every product is unsafe, however, what percentage of products are unsafe is nearly impossible to know right now.

Governments around the world are scrambling to try to implement rules and regulations for the emerging CBD industry, with many of them experiencing setbacks.

The latest example of that is in Europe, where the European Food Safety Authority announced this week that it will be putting a pause on processing CBD novel food applications. Below is more information about it via a news release from the European Food Safety Authority:

EFSA’s expert Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) has received 19 applications for CBD as a novel food, with more in the pipeline.

Chair of the NDA Panel, Prof. Dominique Turck said: “We have identified several hazards related to CBD intake and determined that the many data gaps on these health effects need filling before these evaluations can go ahead. It is important to stress at this point that we have not concluded that CBD is unsafe as food.”

There is insufficient data on the effect of CBD on the liver, gastrointestinal tract, endocrine system, nervous system and on people’s psychological well-being.

Studies in animals show significant adverse effects especially in relation to reproduction. It is important to determine if these effects are also seen in humans.

This latest delay is definitely disappointing, and will likely be pointed to by cannabis opponents as ‘justification’ to abandon the CBD industry entirely.

It’s not as if there is a lack of research on this subject. A quick search on PubMed.gov, which houses peer-reviewed study results from around the globe, lists 4,881 returns for a ‘cannabidiol’ search query. A search for ‘CBD’ returns 9,727 study results.

By comparison, a search for the common sleep aid ‘Lunesta’ returns only 314 results. Obviously, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but it does provide context regarding the level of research that CBD has already been subjected to.

Hopefully the European Food Safety Authority gets the data that they think they need and can get back to processing applications sooner rather than later.

In addition to the growing body of peer-reviewed research, there are literally millions of people around the globe that now regularly use CBD products and the sky has yet to fall. It’s anecdotal but still worth noting.

CBD, Europe, novel foods

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