The Best Little Pot Farm In Europe


Marguerite Arnold

January 29th, 2018

Policy


Forget cannabis reform in California. The dawn of the state recreational market is clearly going to change the discussion in the U.S. in ways that so far, other state reform has yet to broach.

And also skip over any conversations about what is happening north of the border. Canadians are going to pioneer national recreational cultivation and distribution in a way and at a level unseen, or unregulated, anywhere else.

But don’t count Europe out yet. For all the kvetching about delays, complications, regulations and EU politics in general, there are clearly budding cannabis crops all over the continent – and in places that might just surprise you.

Sure, they might not be as commercial and buzzy as their North American counterparts. However things are moving at a pace in at least four countries right now on the medical side that well may upend the entire discussion in Europe in 2018 – and on several important fronts.

Even more interestingly, such green patches of progress are in strategic areas that will definitely move the entire legalization conversation forward not only in Europe but other places.

There is Something Dank Going Down in Denmark

Nobody is quite sure how this happened. But quietly, as of Q’4 2017, the tiny Euro country of Denmark managed to attract the investment dollars of not one but two major Canadian cannabis firms. Both Spektrum/Canopy Cannabis and Aurora have announced grow facilities in the country.

Even more astoundingly, the Danish government has quietly allowed Danish farmers to begin growing the plant for medical use in 2018. This is the first year of a four year experiment to see how medical cannabis works across the country, and funded to the tune of 22 million kroner.

That said, medical resistance to the initiative is still very high domestically. Doctors are resisting prescribing the drug as the trial gets underway.

Local development, however, appears to being going gangbusters. Close to 100 million euros in funding has already been invested in Danish production facilities by foreign firms of late as well as local investment. What does not get used domestically can also be shipped across borders – including into a German market which is undoubtedly potentially larger – and so far has yet to kick off its own domestic grow program.

The Italian Army Appears To Be Loosening Its Military Monopoly on Marijuana

One of the stranger approaches to legalization if not liberalization has been going on in Italy for some years. Up until now, the Italian military had taken the lead if not the sole rights, to grow medical marijuana in the country. Given the country’s Mediterranean coastline, proximity to Turkey and history with drug smuggling done by the real Mafia et al, this was perhaps an understandable wobble. However, in breaking news out of Europe, it appears that Aurora has snagged the exclusive and first Italian government medical cannabis tender. Who knows where that will go? However, with the first cannabis café now opened in Rome, this is the sort of development that is going to send (at minimum) every other foreign LP and distributor looking for new opportunities across the EU. And that, by definition is going to lead to more EU based medical cultivation, processing and distribution activity. By definition.

If that does not now also move the Germans, what will? Medical marijuana is one of the few things that the still-squabbling parties in the midst of forming a new government can actually agree on.

Greek’s Great Green Bailout Program?

The Danish and Italian experimentation with cannabis (not to mention what is already afoot in Germany, Spain, Portugal and Eastern Europe), however, pales in comparison to what the Greeks are planning on the medical front. While everyone else might be bowing to the inevitable, what is about to begin happening in Greece is likely to reset the scales of the canna-biz in Europe on every front. If not jump-start the conversation.

Why? The first thing is that the government is set to finally set sail beyond the financing of its foreign debtors this year after a final passage of labour reforms.

What the government is also doing, however, is opening a global bid for foreign cannabis capital to consider relocation if not cultivation of medical cannabis domestically. The government is hoping to attract at least USD$2 billion in foreign capital interested in a vibrant and again-booming tourist industry that broke records last summer – for the second summer in a row.

If things continue to develop as they appear to be so far, look for a vibrant, lucrative, medical cannabis industry in Greece sooner rather than later, that also caters to tourists.

Medical cannabis travel visas anyone?

For this reason, the development of a Greek medical cannabis industry is potentially as transformative to the entire medical/recreational discussion as the reciprocal visas initiated by Nevada. On a continental scale. Remember that insurance coverage “travels” here far easier than anywhere else internationally.

It may well also tip the entire discussion across the continent about real reform.

Locally, at least, this is also going to create lucrative cannabrands if not opportunities that could also well be exported – even if “only” to help continue to boost the Greek economy.

Unlike the U.S., of course, there will be no Jeff Sessions to slow down industry development. In fact, precisely the opposite. In fact, in Greece, the scales might finally be turned on the institutional investment front when it comes to cannabis in a way unseen anywhere else in the world to date.

And that conversation might well, then, finally and fundamentally tip the scales everywhere else.

Doesn’t that make you want to get your medical card, not to mention your investment fund stamped “Greece or Bust?”

About Marguerite Arnold



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