A LEADING German cannabis trade association is calling for an increase in homegrown produce as new figures show imports increased by over 80% in the first half of the 2021.
Figures obtained from the Federal Ministry of Health show that almost nine tonnes of medical cannabis flower was imported into Germany compared to almost five tonnes in the corresponding period in 2020.
The Health Ministry’s figures also show that medical cannabis products have now been imported from 17 countries with nine of these being European (see chart below).
Jürgen Neumeyer, Managing Director of the German Cannabis Industry Association (BvCW) says the figures demonstrate the need for Germany to speed-up the development of its homegrown industry.
‘Germany Should Not Be Left Behind‘
“The significant increase in imports shows the growing need for medical cannabis in Germany.
“Of the planned domestic cultivation of 2,600 kg per year, as far as we know, only about 50 kg were realised in the first half of the year.
“All in all, our importers are particularly pleased about this development. More and more countries around the world are realising the economic need for cannabis cultivation. That is also to be welcomed. However, we should be careful not to lose touch with the international community in Germany.”
The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) has issued permits to three companies for domestic cultivation – Aphria, Demecan and Aurora – with the former delivering the first homegrown product in July, this year.
Germany’s Cannabis Agency has set an annual upper limit for domestic cultivation of 3.9 tonnes.
Additional data published by the BvCW identifies the 17 exporters – see chart below – with Canada, Holland, Australia and Portugal being the main suppliers.
The release of the Health Ministry figures follows a request by Dr Wieland Schinnenburg, a former Member of the Bundestag.
In a BvCW press release he said: “It is simply incomprehensible why German companies are not in the lucrative export market Instead of becoming more and more dependent on imports, we need more cannabis – Made in Germany. We have to enable German companies for the export market and expand the cultivation of cannabis to 100 tons per year. “
The Health Ministry figures show that 8,966.6kg of cannabis flowers were imported; in 2020, the figure was 4,946.3kg in the same period.
In addition, 980.4kg of dried cannabis flowers were imported in the first half of 2021, which were required for the production of the extracts. In the same period of the previous year the amount was 820.3kg. This corresponds to an increase of approx 19.5%.
The huge surge in imports in the first half of the year comes as medical cannabis patient numbers in Germany have risen to more than 130,000 with a state health insurance programme mostly picking up the costs.
Signs Of A Sophisticated Market Emerging
Benedikt Sons, CEO & Co-Founder of German wholesale medical cannabis distributor Cansativa, said that it is more than likely that some of the imports would have been re-exported to other countries.
He said it was not a surprise that the likes of Canada and the Netherlands are the main suppliers to the market and continued.
“However, it is noticeable that new countries such as Denmark, Portugal and Australia are getting more and more important and are challenging the status quo.
“Additionally, it is surprising that medical cannabis from over 17 countries was imported into Germany: This is a proof of a more and more sophisticated industry with an increasing number of players that are successfully managing the market access challenges resulting from the EU-GMP framework
“What is not reflected in the governmental data yet, is the start of sales of the medical cannabis from domestic cultivation in July: Aphria’s products are available since then, distributed exclusively by Cansativa on behalf of BfArM and it will be exciting to monitor the effects of the medical cannabis domestic cultivation program on the import quantities and origins in the second half of 2021.
“Without any doubt Germany continues to significantly rely on imports as the annual total of 2.6 up to 3.9 tonnes from the domestic medical cannabis programme will not cover the market need for pharmacy dispensaries of more than 15 tonnes annually in 2021 and 2022.”
Total medical cannabis imports for Germany last year totalled 9,249kgs, which represented a 37% increase on 2019.