Is Recreational Cannabis Reform Finally Internationally A La Mode?

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With Mike Bloomberg calling for decrim and record expungement in the United States as he tests the political race, and German politicians moving, inching, deliberating slowly towards acceptance of the new normal, it is clear that 2020 is going to be another showdown year on cannabis.

Yet what exactly does this mean besides political lip flap? Will anywhere (like the United States or Germany) suddenly pop “pro weed” for any purpose? And what does that mean for the industry, if not users and patients, really?

Legalization Is Still A “Long” Game…But…

Nobody really thinks that federal legalization in the United States is going to happen before 2021, no matter who wins the White House. That said, this great big green enchilada is coming to a Congressional hearing on both sides of Capitol Hill as soon as the dust clears on the Presidential election. That said, all those hearings and committee meetings and poison amendments to slow this bad boy down, take time.

In Germany right now, there is also a fascinating drum beat now thrumming. The discussion of where the country goes next is bringing cannabis squarely into the mainstream political debate for the first time ever. Look for parallel developments here from now on. But things are absolutely cooking at a new tempo despite everyone’s attempt to “just stay sensible.” Germans are giddy about the prospects of legalization on all fronts. Starting with not arresting legal patients. However, beyond that, there are marches in the streets here about the need for ways to protect the industry at its retail front (think CBD) as well as every kind of user. Not to mention better ways to make sure that pharmacies are not caught in the middle of still tough access and approvals issues.

It is not unrealistic to believe that within 24 months, there will be a national discussion about legalization as Germany again redresses its political issues overall. And that will have huge implications on the discussion globally.

Business (Starting With Prescriptions) Follows Politics

As much as the industry has been a voice for reform, ultimately the legal business follows political reform, obviously. And that still has a long way to go and in places where the industry still needs advocates. Starting with doctors.

As Germany has proven, legitimization at a federal level does little to move doctors to prescribe a drug of any kind, let alone this one. There are many issues still in play about basic patient access, and not all of those can be solved politically – indeed most of them cannot. 

That said, many of those can use the help of the industry, starting with an increased focus on doctor education, particularly in Europe.

For this reason, any ostensibly “political” marketing campaign attached to the plant or products also should understand that the most important hills are still to be won, and far from the centres of political power. No matter how also obviously full and formal reform should be on the top of everyone’s agenda, even if a step at a time.

For an in-depth look at the efforts on the ground at the last mile of the discussion in Germany and internationally, be sure to attend the panels on regulatory reform and doctor education at the Berlin International Cannabis Business Conference, April 1-3, 2020.

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