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2021 Roundup of Cannabis Reform in Europe (and 2022 Predictions) |

The world is looking ahead to a new year and whether COVID will ever recede. There are some things that we can cheer about including marijuana reform. No matter the uncertainties that face us, grey January is beyond our holiday lights. There’s still plenty of cheer, however, which will be there for much longer than the season.

There are many Germans who have already made plans to infuse. WeihnachtIt will soon be a standard part of many people’s lives. Now it is clear that cannabis will quickly take over German Christmas traditions. Canna-GlüweinWho can resist hot, mulled wines?

The rest of EU, which is still teetering at the edge of this issue, now realizes that it doesn’t matter what they do. (Portugal Spain, Italy Greece, Malta, and of course France) Germany just declared that this was the beginning of an end. It is a natural form of economic growth and tax revenue in a world that has become increasingly dependent on it.

The European cannabis industry has made a huge breakthrough in Europe by 2021. The key characteristics of this year are listed below.

Red, Amber, Green, Go Deutschland!

Germany’s new “Traffic Light” political coalition has promised to address the issue of recreational reform legislatively in 2022. This will likely happen, unlike in the U.S. which has seen multiple unsuccessful attempts to implement federal cannabis legislation. 

However, don’t be surprised to see the Germans follow the Swiss example and make regular pharmacies the first point of contact for recreational and medical users during the rollout. It would solve several issues at once—starting with the establishment of tight restrictions on cultivation and retail supply chain. 

A short term, interim solution such as this will knock out a far more contentious issue—how to structure a licensing system for everything from cultivation in the country (and by whom) to specialty shops that resemble American or Canadian “dispensaries.” Namely not medical establishments. Plus, online sales.

It is the same for Germany as cannabis reform. You can expect to see several iterations starting with city and state experiments. These will undoubtedly include Berlin, Bremen Dortmund, Frankfurt Dusseldorf Cologne, Munich, Cologne, and Munich (since such ideas were vigorously promoted at a municipal level previously).  

Also, don’t forget that it basically took four years after the law changed and two after the cultivation bid was finally awarded, for there to be distribution of German cultivated medical cannabis. Don’t expect the details of recreational to be handled or hammered out much more quickly. Canada.

In the meantime however, full definition will become law. Patients will not be prosecuted for either possession or reasonable homegrowing. Although there is resistance to having cannabis grown in the country by either patients or businesses (as you can see from the drama surrounding the first cultivation attempt), it’s not 2017. Although they acknowledge it, the Germans admit now that the drug is effective as a medicine, even though they don’t agree with the fact that prohibition of cannabis has failed.

Although it is hugely significant, German recreational reform, like the medical reform, will also be an important step in driving other countries forward.

Malta and Luxembourg are leading the way

The fact that Malta led in the European Union’s formalized, federal and recreational cannabis reform is indicative of how complicated the Dutch situation. Indeed, if there are analogies to be made, Holland is kind of like the European California—creating a market that exists in the grey areas but is only now facing a discussion (and further one far from complete) about how to federally regulate the industry.

Luxembourg, too, seems to have been waiting until another country made the jump, even though it promised the same for 2018 when a coalition government assumed the reigns. No excuses for further delays now.

Portugal will also inevitably now enact reform as soon as the smoke from the general election early next year clears—and no matter who wins. The country needs an economic boost—either from tourism or exports, and this is a natural solution.

Spain might also adopt a Dutch approach to formalize coffee shop production over the next 12-24 months.

Expect to also see Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic as well as Greece and outliers like Belgium joining the herd. It may take place next year but this trend will be evident within 24 months.

The Swiss Wild Card

It is important to remember that Switzerland began preparations for the recreational trial rollout. The calendar now includes a date for lift off. Since the beginning of 2018, companies have been applying for and receiving approvals.

This market will be a catalyst for discussions about reform and other developments across DACH, if any other EU border the country shares. Everybody will be paying attention to what happens in Der Schweitz—including the unique waiving and blending of certain kinds of certifications—including but not limited to Novel Food and GMP.

Additional Notables

Despite their best efforts to gain some attention, the British cannabis sector has seen its share of difficulties and they don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. 

North Macedonia, in contrast to the British, will undoubtedly play a part in the future. Even if it is just as an importer of oil extracts and cheaper flowers,

Poland remains on the edge of actual, if not easily accessible, medical reform. But we expect it to accelerate.

Europe’s Import Markets are Growing

A second reason made 2021 memorable was this: Feeder markets will target EU if not Germany at their founder’s mandate, continued to grow. This is a guarantee that there will always be certified cannabis in other countries, regardless of what happens to future cultivation talks, beginning with Germany. 

For this reason, there will be significant downward pressure on both the medical and “other” flower and biomass discussions.

The Bottom Line on 2021

It is possible to draw an analogy between the current European situation and the U.S. conversations in 2012. This was after Obama won his second term. The two states of Colorado and Washington State voted to establish state markets. They both bloomed in 2014—and the rest, as they say, is history.

In many ways, the developments in Europe this year, as well as some of those stuttering delays that have occurred, are reminiscent of this time period. That is good news for everyone in the sector.