Europe Marijuana News Roundup
The Netherlands Will Experiment With Recreational Cannabis Cultivation
Dutch ministers have created a framework that will allow them to experiment with cannabis cultivation in specific areas in the Netherlands for a testing period of 4 years.
Two senior ministers sent a letter to the Dutch Parliament, where plans were outline to legally allow growing cannabis for recreational purposes in various municipalities. Justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus, and medical care minister Bruno Bruins, wrote that a commission will be specially appointed to oversee cultivation, and report their findings back to the government by May. Both ministers will also decide how to best implement the plans, and choose 10 municipalities in the Netherlands will participate in the trial.
Although it’s not required for municipalities to participate in the scheme, some local leaders are already interested, including the mayor of Rotterdam. The ministers’ letter states that the trial will be comprised of 3 phases: first, the ministers will choose up to 10 municipalities which will be allowed to legally cultivate cannabis; second, cannabis cultivation will start in the chosen areas and the harvest will be delivered to cannabis coffees shops in the designated areas for them to sell; and after four years the trial period will end over the course of 6 months and they will begin to evaluate its success.
There is a popular misconception that growing and selling recreational cannabis is legal in the Netherlands when it is not. However, selling small amounts of cannabis in coffee shops is a tolerated practice. These coffee shops are allowed to store a maximum of 500 grams of cannabis at any time. It’s also unlikely for them to prosecute anyone found using the drug since policies state that up to 5 grams of cannabis for personal use is allowed. Adults can also grow a maximum of 5 plants at home.
Despite this, the cannabis in coffee shops in the Netherlands is completely being supplied by the black market hence there are no regulations to oversee it, not even quality control. Should the cultivation experiment go as planned, the Netherlands will be the first European nation to legally regulate supply for recreational cannabis.
What Germany Has Learned After One Year Of Medical Cannabis
Last March, Germany legalized medical cannabis. Many more patients have been prescribed the drug since, although there are still many gray areas in the German MMJ market.
Naturally, demand for medical cannabis in Germany has skyrocketed. Health insurance has covered 44,000 units of cannabis, which was distributed to patients in 2017, based on reports from the ABDA pharmacy association.
“The trend has been increasing from quarter to quarter, both for prescriptions and dispenser units,” said Andreas Kiefer, president of the federal pharmacy chamber. He adds that medical cannabis is also more affordable and accessible.
Health insurance companies have also seen an increasing number of applications from patients asking to reimburse the costs of their medical cannabis. According to Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse (AOK) and Barmer and Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), over 15,700 applications were submitted since March 10, 2017, the date of MMJ’s legalization in Germany.
DAK-Gesundheit (DAK), another major German health insurance company, confirms that demand has indeed significantly increased. Before legalization in Germany, only roughly 1,000 people in the country were permitted to use cannabis for certain medical conditions.
However, AOK, Barmer, TK, and DAK denied around a third of the applications because they have been experiencing problems since the new law; some of these issues include encountering incomplete information from patients or incorrect data.
Bionorica, a Bavarian drug manufacturer, has seen a boom in the sales of Dronabinol, a cannabis-based medicine. Last year, sales of Dronabinol doubled, prompting Bionorica to increase production since their patients have tripled – and these figures only continue to grow.
Doctors are feeling pressure to provide accurate reasons to prescribe cannabis. There is still a stigma among doctors who worry about their reputation. “We still know far too little about whether and how cannabis-based medicinal products work,” says Josef Mischo of the German Medical Association. He says that studies need to be conducted “very carefully” to correctly evaluate if cannabis is a good alternative to conventional therapies.
In a statement, the German Hemp Association says that despite one year of legalization, doctors are hesitant to prescribe cannabis for 2 reasons: getting approval from insurance providers and lack of education for physicians are obstacles.
Cannabis was legalized in Germany for life-threatening and serious conditions including multiple sclerosis, chronic nausea, epilepsy, and cancer. Medical cannabis has been imported from the Netherlands and Canada, although the federal government hopes to legalize the cultivation of cannabis in Germany.
UK Supermarket Is First To Sell Cannabis-Infused Water
Ocado, an online supermarket in the UK, is the first to ever sell water that has been infused with cannabis oil. The site is selling Love Hemp Water, which contains cannabidiol (CBD).
Love Hemp Water’s cofounder, Tony Calamita, says: “There is a growing understanding of the wide ranging benefits of cannabis oil to health and wellbeing which is why we have launched the first every day hemp water product.”
“Each 500ml bottle of Love Hemp is sugar free and contains 2mg of natural hemp extract. It tastes great and is naturally hydrating.”
“We’re proud to be starting a hemp water revolution,” Calamita says.
Canada Company Invests In Danish MMJ Market
CannTrust, a Canadian cannabis MMJ producer, will be launching a joint venture in Denmark with the hopes of eventually supplying Europe’s cannabis.
CannTrust Holdings, an Ontario-based firm, is working with Stenocare, a Danish company which already has a license to grow medical cannabis. The joint venture terms state that CannTrust will get a 25% stake in Stenocare, with the privilege of appointing half of the board members. Stenocare is a new company, launched last October in order to capitalize on the legalization of medical cannabis in Denmark.
CannTrust is already the third major licensed Canadian producer to enter the Danish cannabis market. Recently, Aurora Cannabis announced their plans to launch Europe’s largest MMJ facility while Canopy Growth disclosed plans of growing a 430,000 square foot grow space.
Medical cannabis was legalized in Denmark on January 1, and the herb is already available in local pharmacies. Denmark already sells a range of cannabis products including fresh flower as well as cannabis oils.
Greece Approves Cannabis Production, Investor Interest Spikes
Early this month, the Greek Parliament approved cannabis production, manufacturing, and sales.
The move resulted in increased interest from investors, and 5 companies have already expressed interest of investing over 1 billion euros combined despite the fact that Greece’s market is still in its infancy. We have yet to wait and see if investor interest will translate into actual investments, and if the interested parties are in it for the long haul or are just short-term investors.
Before anything else, the development of the cannabis market in Greece will be determined based on how quickly the second legislation moves.
Two of the interested parties include some of the world’s biggest names in cannabis: Canopy Growth and Aphria, both from Canada. Aphria intends to develop 92,000 square meters of cannabis greenhouses which can grow over 100 tons, and which is expected to create 500 new jobs until 2021. On the other hand, Canopy Growth wants to pump 50 million euros into the Greek cannabis market to create a 50,000 square meter facility which can eventually grow into as much as 100,000, solely for the cultivation of cannabis; a project that will create up to as 1,000 new jobs.
A local company called Golden Greece Cannabis, has plans of developing a 1 square kilometer cannabis cultivation facility in Naoussa. They also intend to construct a plant for the manufacture of pharmaceutical products for an initial investment of 400 million which may go over 1 billion euros after 2 years.
Shanghai company Europacific Medical has a 20 million investment scheme for Greece, as well as a Netherlands based company called HAPA Medical Holdings BV.
The warm weather in Greece is ideal for growing medical cannabis, giving investors an advantage for investments in cultivation.
UK Takes A Hit From UN Warning, Portugal Is Spared
The United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) scolded many countries for legalizing recreational cannabis, but in Europe, UK took a hit although Portugal was spared. It’s not the first time the INCB lashed out at the UK for cannabis laws.
“The reclassification of cannabis by the Government of the United Kingdom would undermine the efforts of the Governments of African countries to counter illicit cannabis cultivation, trafficking, and abuse,” said the INCB report. “That action, it was held, sent the wrong message, and could lead to the increased cultivation of cannabis destined for the United Kingdom and other European countries,” said the previous report.
However, the INCB totally skipped on Portugal, even if they already decriminalized all kinds of drug use.
It could be because the UN’s Secretary-General, Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, is Portuguese and has served as the prime minister during the time of decriminalization.