THIS has been a remarkable year for European cannabis with some significant milestones passed on an increasingly fruitful trek into the post-prohibition era.
Top of the list has to be the momentous decision by Germany to press ahead with plans for a fully-regulated, adult-use cannabis market.
Seemingly unthinkable, even this time last year, a shift in the the country’s political tectonic plates meant that by the middle of the year it seemed inevitable that two cannabis supporting parties would be in the ruling coalition.
And, so it came to pass, with moves to shape German legalisation set to begin in earnest in 2022.
A further milestone was achieved in Malta as it became the first European country to legalise adult-use cannabis.
The Mediterranean island nation with a population of a little over half-a-million will embrace a market that permits domestic cultivation and will thus have different characteristics to Germany.
Late 2020, and the European Court of Justice decision in the KanaVape case saw the the European Union acknowledge that CBD is not a narcotic in a move that was expected to deliver a significant boost to the fast-growing industry.
While there has been progress for the continental CBD industry more road blocks have emerged with the European Union now prevaricating on its ‘non-narcotic’ stance, and the French Government reluctant to take full heed of the KanaVape decision in relation to the position of CBD flowers.
Court cases are also underway in Germany as its authorities, too, quibble over the status of CBD – hopefully the forthcoming legalisation will ease these domestic growing pains.
The Novel Food farrago continues to be a running sore for the CBD industry. The UK leads the way in implementing these regulations but its regulators currently face an uphill battle in tethering this booming market.
Things should become a little clearer on this front in 2022 when the Food Standards Agency publishes the list of compliant companies and the Government considers reports from its advisers which could boost domestic hemp production and raise permitted THC levels in CBD products.
However, the medical cannabis industry in the UK remains stuck in neutral and with little signs of imminent change through the publicly-financed National Health Service the private sector has stepped in to fill the role.
The UK’s neighbour Ireland has administered its first prescription. Elsewhere on the continent the momentum behind medical cannabis continues with over 20 countries now onboard, and France recently initiating its first trial.
In order to meet the growing demand we are seeing southern European countries such as Greece, Portugal, Spain and North Macedonia emerging as the main players in the cultivation space.
Signs of an increasing cannabis investment appetite are also emerging with European stock markets now opening to cannabis businesses.
Cannabis Capital Markets
However, BusinessCann recently reported on the surge of investment from the United States into Europe which totalled over $600m this year – one of these involved US giant Curaleaf purchasing UK firm EMMAC.
Fellow UK firm GW Pharmaceuticals was purchased by Jazz Pharmaceuticals and pharma’s growing interest in cannabis saw Dermapharm Holding acquiring Canopy Growth subsidiary C³ Group and fellow German firm Stada debuting in cannabis.
Tobacco’s interest in the space continued with British American Tobacco taking a 20% stake in Organigram, a Canadian cannabis producer, for €148m in March this year.
As cannabis comes in from the cold its low-THC sister hemp is likewise finding its feet and is set to feature strongly in the drive to create low-carbon economies.
Its many faces see it used in construction, as a bio-plastic, as a replacement for steel and aluminium in car manufacturing, and as the key raw material for the CBD and hemp food supplement industries.
All of these developments over the past year are reflected in the accompanying BusinessCann most popular articles of 2021.
A Top 10
At number one is the January disclosure that the UK Government was asking its advisors to determine the correct levels of THC in UK CBD products – an issue which we returned to earlier this week after its recommendations became public.
This was one of four CBD articles to make it into the top 10. Elsewhere our numerous reports on the debut of four cannabis companies on the LSE and Europe’s path towards cannabis legalisation have proved popular.
We hope you have enjoyed reading BusinessCann this year, and, as our audience and reach continue to grow, feel free to take a closer look at the commercial and partnership opportunities we offer to support your own business growth.
We wish you all a great holiday season and look forward to catching up in the New Year for what promises to be an exciting 2022 in European cannabis.