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Europe ready for recreational legalisation, reveals report

More than half of Europeans support adult-use cannabis.

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Europe ready for recreational legalisation, reveals report
Home » News » Politics & policy » Europe ready for recreational legalisation, reveals report

The new “Recreational Europe” report reveals an overwhelming public opinion in Europe in support of cannabis legalisation. 

2021 saw countries in Europe such as Germany and Denmark discuss moves towards progressive cannabis policy. As these developments unfold, the new report takes a deep look at European consumer and regulatory attitudes toward adult-use cannabis legalisation in the continent’s burgeoning cannabis market.

Conducted by Hanway Associates in partnership with Curaleaf International, Cansativa and international law firm Ince, the report makes the case that now is the time to invest in the European cannabis marketplace.

Public opinion

Polling data from the report across eight European markets found that 55 per cent of Europeans support adult-use cannabis legalisation.

Founder of The Hanway Company, Alastair Moore, commented: “We produced this report to cut through the noise around cannabis legalisation in Europe.

Read more: Copenhagen proposes five year pilot of recreational cannabis

“The topic, which was once characterised by extremely polarized voices for and against legalisation, is quickly becoming a more tame, bureaucratic conversation around civic priorities. Public opinion across Europe is now clearly in favour of legalising cannabis and governments across the continent are already creating legal access programmes. What was once a hypothetical scenario is fast becoming a reality.”

The report also found that  30 per cent of Europeans are interested in trying cannabis, a majority support regulated cannabis shops but do not support growing at home and top concerns among Europeans are youth cannabis use and increased driving under the influence of cannabis. However, social equity is not yet a core priority for Europeans

Legal challenges

The report highlights that legal framework of cannabis legalisation is not just a matter of domestic legislation, as there are other legal considerations such as UN Drug Control Treaties and EU acquis to include. 

This presents legal challenges and possible blockers to commercial cannabis legalisation which will impact international exports of recreational cannabis and other cannabis-related trade. 

It also highlights that companies looking to maximise the emerging opportunities in the cannabis market in Europe have complex legal challenges to consider, including the impact that legalisation will have on the Proceeds of Crime Act and associated implications, as well as compliance with other anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.

As legalisation scales, it is anticipated that so will the drive for companies to raise capital, list on public markets, and access other financial markets and crucial ancillary services such as banking and insurance. 

The legal sector will play a key role in assisting and advising companies to successfully navigate these challenges as they increase fundraising, IPOs, and M&A activity. Other major opportunities for the legal sector exist in compliance and in aiding cannabis operators to license applications.

Boris Jordan, executive chairman of US-based Curaleaf, commented: “We see the European market as three to four years behind, but it actually looks like Europe may initiate sweeping reform before the United States.

“Germany indicating they will legalise recreational use will be an inflection point for the market since it represents the largest economy in Europe, and we feel once Germany goes the rest of the continent will follow suit.”

In addition to the report’s findings around commercial and societal support for legalisation, European regulators have signaled that they are open to loosening cannabis restrictions

“In France, the political leaders remain anchored in an untenable position,” said Ludovic Mendes, MP for the second constituency of Moselle for the LREM group, member of the law commission. 

“We need to have a society-based debate because this is not solely a political issue, it is a societal one. There is a need to work with scientists, doctors, pharmacists, and addiction experts to break down the stereotypes regarding cannabis consumption. 

“Speech of utter repression is no longer an option. I, therefore, appeal for a great national debate with referendum consultations to be put in place immediately after the presidential election.”

Matthew Stratton, Partner at Ince, added: “Recreational Europe collects some fascinating insights into the cannabis market in Europe and we are delighted to have contributed to this report.

“The particularities of this sector – including the level of associated risk due to market maturity, political connotations, and social implications – imply greater need for companies to seek specialist corporate legal advisors to support them through IPOs, M&As and other transactions, as well as tackle any AML compliance issues that may arise.

“We have noticed growing interest in European-based cannabis companies – especially from North American organisations looking for acquisition targets on the continent. We expect a highly rewarding landscape and a prosperous future ahead for the cannabis sector as the European public positively shifts its views about cannabis and facilitates a regulatory shift in the region towards legalisation.”

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 » Europe ready for recreational legalisation, reveals report

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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Politics & policy

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 » Europe ready for recreational legalisation, reveals report

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 » Europe ready for recreational legalisation, reveals report

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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