Weekly European Cannabis Round-up

by Dario Colajanni

According to Prohibition Partners, the European cannabis market will be worth £106bn (€123bn) by 2028. Overall, that is more than twice the revenue that Apple reported in Europe last year. These figures are striking – but some other forecasts predict that the cannabis industry could be worth between $500bn and $1tn in the next decade or so.

For now, however, companies are setting up the first bricks to build this bright (and gainful!) future. In last week’s round up we reported an $8m investment made by the New York-based company Northern Swan in Cansativa, a German cannabis business, thereby accessing the largest market in Europe and one of the most influential countries of the EU. At the same time Canopy Growth announced that sales from its production facility in Denmark will start next September.

This week we start with Canopy Growth’s direct competitor, Aurora Cannabis Inc., now active in 24 countries, the largest global footprint of any cannabis company. On Feb 26, 2019 Aurora announced that it has agreed to acquire a 51% ownership interest in Gaia Pharm Lda in order to establish a facility to produce medical cannabis and derivative products in Portugal. The company – renamed ‘Aurora Portugal Lda’ – will allow access to an attractive market of about 10 million people as well as to the wider market of the Eurozone. This move is in line with Aurora’s strategy to get an advantageous position in countries with a nascent medical cannabis market.

“We are very pleased to be entering yet another European market and look forward to collaborating with our joint venture partners, the government of Portugal and the Portuguese medical community, to encourage the development of a rigorously regulated and safe medical cannabis system that is well supplied and accessible to patients,” said Terry Booth, CEO of Aurora.

Along with Aurora, on Feb 27 SOL Global Investments Corp. announced the close of its latest investment in European Cannabis Holdings (ECH), a group of companies at the forefront of the European industry. SOL GIC is an international investment company with a focus on, but not limited to, cannabis and cannabis related companies, especially in the US and in Europe. SOL has always shown a great interest towards ECH, which, very recently, at the beginning of February, made history by facilitating the first-ever bulk importation of medical cannabis to the UK.

Brady Cobb, CEO of SOL Global, commented: “The investment by SOL into ECH is a great opportunity for two of the leaders in the global cannabis industry to form a strategic link. SOL remains a key global player in the new and exciting cannabis field and ECH is the clear leader in the important European market. The future is bright for both companies.”

This week we also report on news from outside Canada and the US. Many other countries are following suit and there is definitely enough room in the market for new arrivals. Among them is Alexandra Chong, chief executive of Jacana, a medicinal cannabis company that grows on a farm in Jamaica, where she grew up. Their outdoor cultivation has a 100,000kg-a-year capacity, benefitting from the Jamaican sun and warm temperatures in St Ann.

Jacana is already exporting to Canada and it’s looking forward to enlarging the scope to Europe and especially to the UK, where there is a high demand, through partnerships with local growers. “We’re looking at how we enter that market,” Ms Chong said, predicting that UK patients could be using her cannabis strains “before the end of the year”.

Finally, some news from the world of politics. Prominent Maltese MEP Miriam Dalli, has recently urged the European Commission to invest in research regarding medical cannabis and to stabilise legislation, which is still very disharmonious, on cannabis-based medication across all EU countries. For a long time Ms Dalli has fought to defend the patient’s right to know and has repeatedly called for more research investment into medical cannabis. She says: “It is education, research and a common legislative framework that can ensure that physicians will prescribe cannabis for medical use and no longer search for a compromise between medical necessity and legislative restrictions”.

The need for conclusive evidence of the benefits of medical cannabis has to be stressed now more than ever. It is encouraging that politicians at a Continental level are discussing these kind of issues. Collaboration is a key element in the development of a friendly legislative framework that will allow the benefits of the cannabis industry to facilitate the lives of thousands of people and attract more investors from abroad. A potential revolution lies behind the cannabis business: citizens, policymakers, and stakeholders must stand ready to seize every opportunity.

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