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Brexit: the perfect opportunity for UK to be centre of European cannabis

A new report from Volteface says the UK should seize the medical cannabis opportunity and create a cannabis Tsar.

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Brexit is the perfect opportunity for UK to be centre of European cannabis

Drug policy reform group, Volteface, has called on Boris Johnson to take control of the medical cannabis and CBD market to provide an economic boost for the UK.

The Volteface report entitled ‘The new leaf: beyond Brexit, countering COVID‘, which features a foreword from the Adam Smith Institute, has called attention to the economic benefits of engaging with growing cannabis markets. Stressing that the UK will need to move quickly, it estimates that the medical cannabis market could reach up to £1.2bn, creating 41,000 direct jobs and a further 17,000 supporting jobs.

So far, the UK has taken some steps to embrace the sector, with a number of cannabis companies listing on the LSE. However, the report highlights that, with the CBD wellness market forecast to reach £1bn by 2025, outdated licensing regimes mean that the UK is missing out on the medical cannabis opportunity.

Speaking with Cannabis Wealth, Katya Kowalski of Volteface said that now that Brexit is in place, it creates the perfect opportunity for the UK to become the centre of European cannabis. 

She said: “It frees us from direct EU regulations and restrictions. Countries like Switzerland are allowed to operate much more freely in the medical cannabis and CBD space. This would allow the UK to operate on its own and independently. It leaves us in a place where we can take control of the industry and ownership.

“It is a really important sector to expand quickly. Medical cannabis was legalised three years ago and while we have seen progress from the industry side, patient access is still really limited. It is important to expand quickly to make sure patients are getting access to the medicine they need.”

German political parties working in coalition announced that adult use cannabis will be legalised for sale in licensed premises and taxed accordingly. It makes Germany the first major European country to recognise this growing industry. 

“Competition is increasing across Europe. Germany has now put plans in place to legalise recreational cannabis and there is an ongoing Danish pilot programme for building an evidence base around medical cannabis. France is also doing something similar. We are seeing a lot of moves across Europe to really expand and take on medical cannabis as a growing industry,” said Kowalski.

Could the German announcement put further pressure on Boris Johnson to make changes in the UK? Kowalski hopes that this is the case. 

“It should, and hopefully will, put pressure on Boris Johnson to see the benefits of medical cannabis. We mentioned in our report that there is a predicted estimated value of £1.2bn with thousands of new jobs. This should bring medical cannabis into perspective around it being a viable economic opportunity.”

Such economic opportunity would help with recouping financial losses following a series of lockdowns across the UK in 2020 and early 2021. Kowalski highlighted that this would be especially important around the creation of jobs following the furlough scheme which ended in September 2021. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, often referred to as ‘furlough’, supported the wages of more than 11.7 million people since 1 March 2020 at a cost of more than £70bn. 

“The report estimated that we could get 41,000 jobs specifically in the medical cannabis industry with a further 17,000 ancillary jobs. It is not just about economic or investment opportunities, but a wide array of job creation. That is something that has been really lacking in the UK with the furlough scheme and people losing their jobs.

“It is important to discuss that cannabis is a really interdisciplinary sector which can seem quite niche from the outside. The opportunities in the industry are so vast that you could have quite low-skilled to high-level positions including agricultural to lab-based jobs. It is not just the ancillary jobs but also positions in the industries that may collaborate with the cannabis space.”

The report suggested the appointment of a separate government body that deals solely with cannabis would streamline the process of applications in turn speeding up the industry. 

Katya continued: “The next steps need to be a policy framework put in place in the UK. One of the key recommendations in the report is that a cannabis Tsar or a government body should be put in place to oversee the medical cannabis expansion. At the moment, all regulatory matters go to the home office which is quite tiresome and slow.

“The home office doesn’t really know how to deal with these issues so having a separate governmental body would really help to streamline this approach and speed up the process. Also, raising the THC percentage of CBD that is allowed to be extracted from hemp up to 1 per cent from 0.2 per cent would maximise the yield and expand the market.” 

Kowalski also drew attention to the importance of not forgetting patient involvement as there is no industry without patients. 

She concluded: “It is really important to not lose sight of why we are all in this space and what is at the heart of this industry, which is patient access. Expanding the evidence base for cannabis products is important to expanding patient access. We need to make doctors more comfortable with prescribing. We need to amend those regulations too so expanding the evidence base with investment into the sector is absolutely key.”

Politics & policy

Cross-party group established for recreational cannabis in Europe

#LegaliseitEP is focusing on human rights-based cannabis policy – “it is a matter of freedom”.

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Cross-party group established for recreational cannabis in Europe
Home » News » Politics & policy » Brexit: the perfect opportunity for UK to be centre of European cannabis

The group, made up of MEPs from five different parties, has formed to facilitate discussions around amending policy for the personal use of cannabis in Europe.

As countries such as Malta, Germany and Luxembourg have announced progressive amendments to cannabis policy, the informal interest group is supporting human rights-based policies for the personal use of cannabis.

The group is made up of the MEPs Luke Flanagan of Ireland, The Left; Mikuláš Peksa of the Czech Republic, Greens; Monica Semedo of Luxembourg, Renew; Cyrus Engerer of Malta, S&D; and, Dorian Rookmaker of The Netherlands, ECR.

Read more: Malta officially legalises cannabis in historic first for Europe

In an open letter to 705 members of the European Parliament, the group states that Member States should have the autonomy to create cannabis policy that reflects the needs and specificities of their society. 

As well as encouraging the MEPs to join the group, the open letter also calls for more information sharing between Member States regarding recreational cannabis and for fact-based discussion on cannabis, which the group says has been subject to misinformation for a long time.

The letter states: “Due to outdated and unpredictable patchwork of legislation, citizens across the EU are often finding themselves being forced to turn to the black market or even worse, imprisoned for being in possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. This does not reflect the level of freedom we have come to expect from living in Europe.

“We cannot deny that with new legislation coming forward within EU Member States, we are likely to find ourselves facing repercussions at an EU level. As MEPs, we want to build on this momentum and create a cross-party interest group within the European Parliament, where we will share best practices, talk to experts, organise hearings and conferences, as well as debate the situation of personal use of cannabis within the Union.”

Monica Semendo, of Luxembourg’s Renew, stated: “I am in favour of the legalisation of cannabis and cannabis products because it is a matter of freedom. 

“It’s a matter of one’s own choice. And if someone decides to consume cannabis, they should have access to a safe product. 

“We have to focus on transparent information, education programmes and risk reduction, especially for young adults.”

Cyrus Engerer of Malta’s S&D, stated: “People should have the right to take autonomous informed decisions about their lives, including whether or not they use cannabis. 

“Let’s talk basics. No one should go to jail over a joint. And now for some real talk – many people still are. 

“Where I come from – Malta – we are the first European country to fully legalise cannabis use Germany, and Luxembourg will soon follow it. It’s time that we talk about cannabis and our personal freedoms and rights.”

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Greenrise welcomes cannabis policy developments in Germany

The company is preparing for the potential legalisation of adult-use cannabis in Germany.

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Greenrise welcomes cannabis policy developments in Germany
Home » News » Politics & policy » Brexit: the perfect opportunity for UK to be centre of European cannabis

Greenrise Global Brands has welcomed recent developments in Germany as it awaits guidelines from the German Government in the coming months.

Germany’s “traffic light” coalition made plans to legalise recreational cannabis official in November 2021 with the publication of its agreement. 

The coalition, which includes the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and The Greens, agreed to legalise the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for “pleasure purposes”. With a focus on health-oriented cannabis policy, the development aims to move consumers away from the black market, control quality of products and ensure the protection of minors.

This year, five hearings are planned throughout to discuss the legislative process on the controlled supply of cannabis to adults for recreational purposes, with the first meeting being held in June, at the Federal Ministry of Health.

The Federal Government is anticipated to submit a draft law to Parliament (Bundestag) by the end of 2022.

Read more: Germany to begins consultations for cannabis legalisation

Greenrise Global, which has a wholly-owned medical cannabis subsidiary, AMP Alternative Medical Products GmbH that imports EU-GMP medical cannabis from within the European Union and elsewhere and has well-established relationships with pharmacies and clinics across Germany, has welcomed the development.

Supporter of the health benefits of cannabis and a keystone shareholder and director of Greenrise, as well as co-founder of CannaCare Health, Frank Otto, commented: “The consultation process shows that Germany is no longer talking about whether to legalise adult-use, but how. 

“We also believe that there will be a domino effect as European countries are watching very closely as Europe’s largest economy joins Canada and California in legalising cannabis for adult use.”

AMP Alternative Medical Products has reported that preliminary unaudited sales for first half year 2022 increased 14 per cent to €268,479 compared to sales of €236,399 during the first half year of 2021.

Greenrise acquired 51 per cent of CannaCare, which sells CBD wellness products through traditional retail channels in Germany and German-speaking markets in Europe, at the beginning of Q2. The company has reported that preliminary Q2 unaudited sales for CannaCare increased 187 per cent to €474,000 compared to Q1 2022 sales of €165,000.

Managing director of AMP and director of Greenrise, Dr Stefan Feuerstein, said: “The exceptional sales growth from CannaCare during the second quarter confirms our strategy of investing in CBD in addition to medical cannabis as we prepare for the potential legalisation of adult-use in Germany. 

“We look forward to the government providing guidelines in the coming months, which will provide certainty on how and when to position our businesses. 

“We expect pharmacies to play a significant role and are preparing our pharmacy customers for the possibility of selling adult-use products as well as soon as legislation is in effect. We also realigned our medical cannabis business by streamlining our medical sales team, offering more pharmaceutical cannabis products to doctors to prescribe and are preparing to import high-THC flowers from several European cultivators.”

CFO of CannaCare, Dr Tilman Spangenberg, commented: “Greenrise’s investment allowed CannaCare to launch its CBD products in three leading German drugstore chains, which dramatically increased sales in a very short period of time. 

“We expect the full impact of this sales channel to unfold in the third as well as fourth quarter. Our priorities for the remainder of this year are to grow CannaCare’s sales and operating cash flow positive by introducing new sales channels and adding additional drugstore chains.”

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Politics & policy

Switzerland’s amendment on medical cannabis comes into force

The Swiss government announced in June that rules for medical cannabis will be simplified.

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Switzerland’s amendment on medical cannabis comes into force
Home » News » Politics & policy » Brexit: the perfect opportunity for UK to be centre of European cannabis

Today, 1 August 2022, Switzerland’s amendments to its Narcotics Act come into force, which will allow patients in the country easier access to medical cannabis.

Switzerland has now joined a number of countries across Europe that are enabling patient access to cannabis by removing its ban on the medicine. 

Previously, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) required exceptional approval for use of medical cannabis. This reduced patient access to cannabis as administrative processing was unable to keep up with the demand from potential patients.

Read more: Switzerland approves pilot for regulated cannabis sales

The use of medical cannabis will now be subject to regular control measures. The defined limit of at least 1.0% total THC content remains unchanged. 

Under the new amendments, medical prescriptions will no longer require an exceptional permit from the FOPH. Cannabis will be reallocated from Switzerland’s Narcotics List Ordinance list from List d, which is prohibited narcotics, to List a, which is all substances subject to control measures), along with preparations such as extracts, resins, oils and tinctures. 

Read more: Cannabis regulation changes across Switzerland and Luxembourg

Dronabinol and THC will now also be included List a “provided there is an intended medical purpose”.

The new amendment enables doctors to make the decision on whether a patient requires a medical cannabis prescription, speeding up the process of accessing the medicine for patients.  

The medicine will now enter Switzerland’s pharmaceutical system and controlled by the health authority SwissMedic, which will be taking over the role of the country’s Cannabis Agency for the cultivation of medical cannabis.

Under the amendments, there will be a two-stage authorisation procedure, which will require an establishment licence and an individual licence for the cultivation of medical cannabis. 

SwissMedic has stated that the handling of cannabis for non-medical purposes continues to be generally prohibited and will continue to require an exemption from the FOPH. 

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