By Marguerite Arnold
In one of the more intriguing cross-European canna developments this summer, Tilray announced its first cross-European shipment. The shipment was estimated to be worth more than $3 million and shipped from Portugal to Germany in late August. The German distributor that Tilray is working with is also of note – Cannamedical, the second indie distributor to get an import license (after MedCann GmbH now Spektrum/Canopy).
The announcement comes at an interesting time.
Tilray’s Portuguese plans were announced during the summer of 2017 when the focus on entering the German market was via the cultivation bid process. Tilray was the first company to more or less publically throw in the towel, in other words, as the first news of lawsuits began to trickle out.
The Impact of Warmer Climates And Less Regulation
Tilray is not the first, much less the only, large Canadian cannabis company to essentially plan to outsource EU production somewhere in the region. All of the largest players in the market have established either production sites or partnered with domestic producers to do so in countries around the continent. Spain, Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Greece, Italy, and Macedonia are all in various stages of cultivation, production, and/or extraction.
However, the Portugal play is intriguing on a number of fronts, starting with sovereign drug policy. That is unlikely to be duplicated anywhere else in Europe. However, it places the company in a strategic position to ship product not only to the EU (starting with Germany) but also the UK.
The demands of these two markets will absolutely drive the economics of the industry for the next decade, regardless of niche plays that may be perceived to be sexier, such as Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Greece.
That means no matter how “unregulated” the overall local attitudes are when it comes to cultivation, processing, and production, export markets are highly regulated. Cost control, starting with labor, but also other matters from packaging and labeling to supply chain issues beyond this, are in the room and are unlikely to leave it.
The most recent contretemps over CannTrust in Denmark, including calls for better regulations, also seem to indicate that the writing is on the wall in terms of where the industry is headed.
Ultimately, of course, beyond issues of production cost, there are also bigger problems afoot, starting with the slow acceptance of medical efficacy which will ultimately drive sales. The only solution for that is medical trials, regardless of how exciting the news of recreational reform is in Luxembourg.
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