EUROPEAN CANNABIS – The making of an industry

Bryan, Garnier & Co

An exciting EUR65bn+ opportunity. Europe is set to become one of the world’s largest legal cannabis markets. With a population of 557 million people, Europe (ex. Russia and Ukraine) could present greater market potential than the US (330m) and Canada (38m) combined, where legal cannabis sales are expected to hit EUR32bn and EUR4bn respectively this year. Today, there is barely a legal European cannabis market to speak of, but the total market (99% illegal), is already at EUR65bn.

Medical cannabis patient numbers on the rise. All of today’s legal European cannabis markets exist firmly within a medical context, but even here, restrictions on indications and accessibility hurdles limit its use by patients and prescribing physicians. The main reason for regulatory bodies’ hesitance is the limited hard evidence from clinical research concerning therapeutic benefits given that research has been hindered/prohibited by different international treaties. In order to discover the benefits and adverse effects of medical cannabis use, nearly every European country follow its own path. The results seem to converge towards abolishing restrictive policies. Cannabis appears to be a safe and effective medication for many patients. It shows promise in the treatment of numerous medical problems including pain, insomnia and anxiety. Imminent reviews by regulators are likely to increase the number of indications for which medicinal cannabis is allowed/reimbursed and also to improve access. Specifically this is the case in Germany, Switzerland, Spain and France, while Israel is already on the forefront of medical cannabis research and access. Simultaneously, discussions concerning legalisation of adult-use cannabis seem to remove some of the stigma among physicians and patients. In 2022, the number of medical cannabis patients is estimated at around 280,000 in Europe led by Germany and Israel, which each count for about 40% of the total. By 2027, we expect this to be 1.6m (CAGR of 40%)

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