The European cannabis industry is unique. The cultures here have truly embraced the medical benefits of the drug and the governments have supported this with progressive cannabis policies. There are cities in Europe where residents hold their weed in high esteem, more like the way the French and Italian culture value their food and wine.
Across the continent, the drug has been widely distributed through mainstream channels and pharmacies. The residents of some cities have clear access to procure their weed, with fewer taxes attached. More countries are modifying their cannabis policies, as the drug keeps rising in popularity across various industries. The skincare industry and wellness industry in Europe are making cannabinoids active ingredients in their products.
All these have boosted the cannabis industry in Europe. International tourists often go into the countries to experience the unique cannabis lifestyle. Before the pandemic, Europe had a steady stream of millions of tourists trooping in.
Amsterdam served as the unofficial capital of Cannabis
For over four decades, the legendary cannabis cafes in Amsterdam gave it an unofficial rank as the cannabis capital in not just Europe, but worldwide. Amsterdam receives a large percent of the total number of tourists that visit Europe each year.
The city permits the consumption of weed in the many coffee shops present around strategic areas of Amsterdam. It is still illegal to grow the plant for personal use without a permit.
All this might be coming to an end. The current mayor of Amsterdam has plans to disallow cannabis cafes from servicing visiting tourists in the city.
According to the Mayor, the increased cannabis tourism in the state has significantly reduced the level of security in the area. If the Mayor gets his wish, this will likely end the reign of Amsterdam as the capital of cannabis in Europe and the world.
While tourists may still visit to see the city's tulips, far-famed artworks, breathtaking architecture, delicious waffles and pancakes and tiered roofs, the absence of tabs and tokes will reduce the appeal of the city. Cannabis is the major edge the city has over neighboring cities and countries in Europe.
Not only will the city lose its unofficial title, but cannabis-related businesses and the cannabis industry in the city are also to lose billions of dollars in sales.
There is however no doubt that either Canada or the United States of America will take the crown of being the cannabis capital of the world, provided they make the right investments and federal policies required.
Now there is the puzzle of which country will emerge as the new cannabis capital of Europe. The countries in Europe likely to share the throne include France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Albania, Luxembourg, and Denmark.
France has the biggest black market for cannabis in Europe. The cannabis policies in the country are in no way favorable for the consumption of weed in the country, but still, It has the highest consumption rate of weed on the continent. Its medical cannabis program is just in its starting phase and hasn't developed enough.
From a legal perspective, the country is in no way prepared to be the capital of cannabis. However, from another view, because it has a higher consumption rate than even the Netherlands, can we say it is worth being the capital?
The country has one of the most progressive policy reforms in Europe. Although recreational cannabis is still criminalized, the medical industry on the other hand is currently the largest legal cannabis industry in Europe. Experts predict that recreational weed will be decriminalized soon, but till then our fingers remain crossed. From a legal perspective, Germany is unofficially the cannabis capital of Europe; for now.
Barcelona, Spain is fast rising to take the place of Amsterdam as the capital. But the use of the drug is not technically legal. Pot can only be smoked or consumed within the privacy of the homes, or hotel rooms (for tourists). Public consumption comes with penalties. Spain has one of the best hashishes globally.
Spain has something called cannabis clubs where cannabis can be consumed, just like the coffee shops in Amsterdam. A membership card or permit is needed to gain entry into these establishments. Barcelona has at least 150 of these clubs.
Copenhagen hosts the anarchist district, Freetown Christiania, which used to be the main base for the open cannabis trade. As far back as 1970, a population of hippies took over the area and traded all sorts of cannabis which were disallowed in other parts of the country.
All these ended when drug-infused violence became a constant occurrence in the area. The area may have been the Amsterdam of that era, but for now, no free dealing of cannabis occurs in the area legally.
The country has a little shot at being the cannabis capital, seeing as its cannabis legalization is still in infancy. It is commendable that the Supreme Court finally ruled that small-scale cultivation of cannabis is now legal. As soon as the legalization is approved to include the entire industry as a whole with designated home delivery, it will significantly give Italy a chance to be the cannabis capital of Europe.
It is not so common knowledge that the biggest route for smuggling illegal marijuana products via land goes through Albania. The country, like France, is also home to another huge black market industry for cannabis cultivation.
Statistics show that a large amount of illegal cannabis found in other European countries either traveled through Albania or was grown in Albania. The earlier Albania approves cannabis legalization, the quicker it takes its spot as the top legal cannatourism destination in Europe.
The country has an already approved cannabis legalization and is widely considered to be a cannabis-friendly nation. Here, the products sold have less than 1% THC in them. For Switzerland to be considered as a cannabis capital, it has to modify its THC limits.
This debate is sure to continue indefinitely. Each country above has its uniqueness, from culinary scenes to architectural masterpieces. Likely, two or three of these countries will simultaneously share the unofficial title of being the cannabis capital in Europe.