A Look at Europe’s €56 Billion Cannabis Industry


Jason Mueller

November 27th, 2017

Policy


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As surely as change has come to Catalonia recently, so too will cannabis reform take hold across all of Europe. A potential legal cannabis industry in Europe stands to be the largest globally once it gets established.  Whether for the benefit of patients’ quality of life or for the bountiful profits that can be realized in the coming cannabis industry, there is a clear move forward on the path to common sense cannabis law reform.  One thing is absolutely certain about Europe’s future role in a global, cannabis-friendly economy: with a population twice the size of the US and Canada’s combined, Europe stands to benefit from a staggering market for cannabis.

Despite there being twenty-three official languages in Europe across fifty countries, Europe has settled into a globally progressive and diverse collection of people.  Their resourcefulness knows no bounds, and expectations are that by 2020, the coming cannabis industry will outpace the creation of manufacturing jobs in Europe.  Cannabis is a great equalizer and at this point in history, Europe stands to gain the most by embracing legalization.

There are statistics that back up the belief that Europe will become the largest cannabis market in the world once legalization takes hold: even though a smaller percentage of Europeans partake in cannabis consumption than citizens in the US, Europe’s much larger population leads experts to agree that Europe will outpace even the US in sales.  Europe’s population is 739 million people and its GDP exceeds €13.7 trillion dollars annually.  In healthcare annually, Europe spends roughly €1.49 trillion every year.  Though only 12% of Europeans admit to having ever used cannabis, analysts anticipate the European cannabis market to net roughly €56.2 billion dollars, yearly.  Experts have speculated that this figure could be broken down to €35.7 billion coming in from medical cannabis sales while the remaining €20.5 billion could be generated from recreational sales.  Estimates are based on a fully legal and regulated market across Europe, so as countries decide on their own whether or not to legalize cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, expect the industry market cap to grow into these projections.

A Glimpse at Europe’s Changing Cannabis Law by Country

Germany

In March, 2017, Germany introduced new legislation and distributed ten production licenses for the production of medical-grade cannabis.  Though recreational use is still illegal, punishment has become progressively more lenient.  Germany is expected to be in the top five European cannabis producing countries, though France’s levels of production still dwarf those of Germany.

Spain

Both recreational and medical use of cannabis is decriminalized in Spain, though importation and the purchase or use of cannabis in public is illegal.  In July 2017, the Catalonian Parliament submitted a bill to legalize consumption and distribution of cannabis in their autonomous region.

Italy

Medical cannabis has been available in Italy since 2013, however in 2017, the military was granted exclusivity over the country’s cannabis production and distribution.  Just months prior in 2016, the Italian Senate passed a law that allowed citizens to grow cannabis without need of a license from either the food, cosmetics or energy sectors.

Israel

The first medicinal marijuana program in Israel started in the early 1990’s and was reserved for the treatment of cancer patients with severe pain issues.  At this point today, there are over 25,000 Israeli medical cannabis patients with licenses.  Israel has the highest ratio of cannabis users, reporting in at 27% of the entire population.

United Kingdom

Hosting a confrontational, conservative government, not much has been done in the way of cannabis law reform in the UK.  While limited medical laws permit special use of Sativex and Nabilone, those are the only cannabis-based medicines that the government allows.  In Oct. 2017, however, a new bill called for cannabis legalization for medical purposes.  It is expected to go up for debate in Feb. 2018.

Czech Republic

Upon being founded in 1993, the Czech Republic implemented unprecedented cannabis laws: while production and sale of cannabis was still illegal, possession and consumption of it was left legal for citizens.  While this position has teeter-tottered in Czech history, medical cannabis was made fully legal in 2013 and in today’s Czech Republic, even recreational use is still decriminalized.

France

Though France’s cannabis laws haven’t been significantly changed since the 70’s, in 2014 the government approved Sativex for treatment of multiple sclerosis.  Unfortunately, price wars have kept the drug unavailable to the public since it was approved.  Current President, Emmanuel Macron, has mentioned decriminalization of small pot offenses as a possibility for France in the future.  France produces 59% of the world’s hemp seeds though and they account for over 50% of all hemp-based pulp and paper production across Europe.

For more details about the potential European cannabis market and where the rest of the EU fits in, download the free European Cannabis Report: Version 2, courtesy of Prohibition Partners.

Jason Mueller

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