Europe is not a uniform block where all cannabis legislation would be aligned. While the Netherlands has long been supplying Europe with medical cannabis, Germany has been ahead of other countries, first importing Canadian cannabis and then initiating domestic production. The latter is taking its time to establish but will most certainly become a model for Europe once it is finalized, at least in the quality of its infrastructure and finished products.
Portugal and Denmark are now also Canadian investment lands. Portugal will offer GMP products to the European market from the end of 2020 and Denmark, despite some delays, is also entering the niche, with Canopy Growth, Aphria, and Aurora in the pipeline.
However, these may not be the countries most likely to welcome investment. For example, Macedonia.
The country legalized medical cannabis in 2016. Only four diseases are eligible for cannabis treatment: cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis. Treatment is prescribed by a doctor, while products containing less than 0.2% THC are widely available in pharmacies.
The country, which has a population of less than 2 million, has nevertheless already laid off 24 producers, with 20 more on standby, with the full support of the government, which sees this as an economic opportunity. Health Minister Venko Filipche said: “If we want to boost the economy in Northern Macedonia, cannabis is the way to do it”.
And foreign investment is more than welcome. Indeed, the average income of the inhabitants is around €1000 per month, whereas the cost of setting up a GMP plant generally ranges from €500K to €1 million, in addition to obtaining the production license.
However, there is still one last hurdle: for the moment, producers can only export oils, not flowers. Since the country is sorely lacking in extraction capacity, the flowers are stored, with the risk that they will end up on the Albanian black market, Europe’s close neighbor and nursery for cannabis.
Greece has also adopted the same stance on medical cannabis. The Greek Minister of Development said the government “wants economic growth” for the cannabis sector. In fact , 29 producers have already obtained their licenses, and are currently in the process of receiving their building permits if they have not already started work on their GMP infrastructure. The first plants will probably be planted in the second half of 2020. More than 60 license applications are still being considered.
On the CBD side, Greece is already much more flexible than its neighbors. Indeed, it authorizes the cultivation of off-catalog hemp varieties for the production of high-dose flowers in CBD, outdoors or indoors. The only constraints are to apply for a license from the government and to keep a record of its sales for 3 years for possible controls. Negotiations are also underway to raise the THC limit levels in hemp to at least 0.3% and with a tolerance level of 0.8% for plants in the field.
As for Jersey, in addition to being already an attractive territory for capital, the island could outpace the European competition with its separate legislation on the CBD. Since , the law allows a 3% THC to CBD ratio, so it means that a product containing 50% CBD can legally contain up to 1.5% THC.
Island hemp growers can thus legally extract and sell full-spectrum oil, from which they can remove THC to market broad-spectrum oil in the UK and beyond.
The island is also expected to grant its first licenses for medical cannabis in the first half of this year, with strong interest from North American investors.