Skip to main content

The Race To Conquer Cannabis Europe

Europe map Europe map Europe map Europe map Europe map Europe map

Author: Marguerite Arnold

Canadian canna-businesses have had a giant head start, but they do not have a monopoly on international cannabis supply or the supply chain. And competition is on the horizon as a slew of newly budded cannabis companies are targeting Europe.

These newbies, mainly from Thailand and South Africa (and possibly Israel) are weaving their way through the thicket of international cannabis regulations right now. Spain, Portugal, Macedonia, Greece, and maybe even Poland are not too far behind, and many German ganjaprenuers are still looking for ways to get into the game

The “big boys” do not have a lock on any part of the industry, regardless of brand recognition or market presence. In the case of Canadian CannTrust, certainly that can be either a blessing or a curse. But reality is hitting the market.

Canopy is selling dronabinol to German patients (who hate it) and its German vapes to Americans – who already loved Storz and Bickel.

Everyone, in other words, who understands the market, realizes you cannot be everything to everyone.

Yes, the big public Canadians in Europe are sourcing from everywhere else, but this makes them even less price competitive in the EU. Dutcvh Bedrocan has proved that If you have a good presence on the ground in Germany and the UK, you can compete with even the deepest pocketed Canadians. But to compete, you need a good distributor in Deutschland and you need to be selling, or even better, donating cannabis products for medical studies and patient trials.

But with outdoor crops now seeded in Portugal (by Tilray), just as Luxembourg announces its own recreational rule change on the horizon, turning your eyes away from the region for “hotter fish” elsewhere is a mistake.

There are many interesting things afoot right now in Europe. Despite the distractions of the U.S. market and the scandals coming across the Atlantic, Europeans are setting a different pace.

Luxembourg has now pushed the bar for a sovereign discussion of cannabis legalization. Poland is setting up to do something. Swiss, Danish, German, and British medical trials are all on the calendar, and some have already started..

The reality for those with any sensitivity to a European wide conversation at the moment, is that, despite the occasional flare ups over medical efficacy and cost, Europe is on the brink of a breakthrough, and it seems that systems, rather than strains, are what will be the differentiator here for some time to come.

There are challenges in the European markets. Spanish health insurers are not the same as Dutch, German or the British NHS. But the medical cannabis market is rising at the same time as adult-use cannabis legalization is gaining ground in country after country.

People are tired of wasting money on a war they don’t want to fight – especially when there are so many other more looming and pressing issues. Plus there are the local economic bennies.

Europe is pondering some basic questions that everyone knows must be considered. Yes, sales are slow, but right now European cannabis sales are all a function of restrictive medical cannabis programs. Given the history of medical use leading to recreational use as seen in the USA, can full legalization be far behind? Conversations impossible just five years ago are in the room. And the industry is getting organized and stirring.

The sense of green ownership across the continent, in other words, is a great green giant that may be a bit “slower” in the offing. But it is awake and rumbling.


The International Cannabis Business Conference is the best industry event to learn the latest and to network with top investors and entrepreneurs. Next up: Vancouver, Canada, this September 15-16, featuring top experts in the field, PLUS a performance on a luxury yacht by Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs at the after party. Don’t delay, purchase tickets today!