DESPITE a decline in cannabis flower imports for the first quarter of 2021 the German medical cannabis market continues to show buoyant growth with year-on-year figures for Q1 up by an impressive 83%
In Q1, 2021 total imports reached 3,259kgs down from 3,468kgs in Q4 2020.
However 2021’s Q1 figure is way above last year’s import total for the same period last year of 1,776kgs.
Pia Marten, CEO of German cannabis wholesaler Cannovum believes the slight decrease in the first part of 2021 is due to regulatory stipulations and cultivation patterns.
She said: “In my opinion, the decline in flower imports in the first quarter of this year has regulatory reasons. The German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) carries a license for a maximum amount of imported flowers per year.
“The BfArM then distributes this amount to all medical cannabis companies.
“The medical cannabis companies try to divide their imports throughout the whole year and prefer to start with a smaller import in order to leave enough room for the remaining three quarters. This correlates to the import data from BfArM with the first quarter of 2020 showing a low import volume.
“The second quarter shows an increase in imports due to the harvest of the natural cultivation cycle. The decline of the imports in the third quarter is due to the aforementioned import cap.
“In the fourth quarter of 2020, the BfArM applied for a higher cannabis import volume, leaving the medical cannabis companies to import the surplus within this last quarter.
“If we want to look at overall market growth, it’s necessary to compare the first quarter of this year with the first of 2020 which shows us an import growth of +83,5%. Following the train of thought I laid out, this should be one of the lowest imports of 2021, leaving us with an expanding market.”
In the last few weeks Tilray announced it was delivering the first homegrown medical cannabis into the German market with this additional domestic supply set to eat into the import number over time.
The German authorities have placed an initial annual cap of 2.6 tonnes. Prohibition Partners Industry Analyst Conor O’Brien says the market is still below expectations.
He said: “We estimate the uptake of medical cannabis to be at about 0.15% of the population in Germany, which is a whole order of magnitude lower than the rates seen in the US.
“The reasons for this are likely that barriers to obtaining medical cannabis in Germany are higher; prescriptions covering shorter periods, Doctors less likely to prescribe cannabis, pharmacies less likely to stock cannabis where there are ubiquitous dispensaries in the US.”
“The recent addition of slightly cheaper, domestically produced cannabis to the market will place some downward pressure on prices nationwide which could result in higher patient uptake, but with lower margins for suppliers.”