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European Cannabis Reform as of 4/20/2022

The European 420 of this year brings a lot of excitement to the world. Although there are many reasons to rejoice that reforms here are on the march it is evident that reforms will still be needed almost everywhere before final and complete cannabis reform becomes law in any country or region. Patients still struggle to access cannabis even though they have legal status in Germany. The situation in other countries is worse. However, there are some bright spots—and it is clear that legalization is now in process, no matter how slowly.

Here is a brief overview of where the most influential countries stand on the issue—and the challenges yet ahead.


A federal cannabis trial is being implemented in the United States by a non-EU nation located at the center of Europe. The purchase of high-THC cannabis for recreational purposes will be permitted at pharmacies. Now, the first orders are being shipped. ApothekesIt will be conducted in all parts of the country. The trial will not be carried out in every canton, as the Swiss equivalent of states. However its effects will be felt throughout Europe. Germany is likely to adopt an approach similar to that of the Swiss. There will also be some form of the “cannabis club” that will take root here. This is the European leader.


When the new government takes action (as promised), recreational reform will be possible in the country. Things are not looking good on the ground, however, because the Traffic Light Coalition is ignoring the need for formal decriminalization. Criminal prosecutions are pending against more than 200 companies involved in the hemp industry. Nearly 200,000 cases are pending against people. The reason why the HanfThis year’s parade in Berlin will be held, as well as similar demonstrations throughout the country. This year, April will see a celebration on the front. 


Although it’s still in progress, the nation is creating a system national for cannabis cultivation and distribution. This has been repeatedly delayed. However, the plan is set to go into effect in 2023. In the meantime, the mayor of Amsterdam is still pushing ahead with her unpopular plan to close down as many as two-thirds of the city’s coffeeshops and ban cannatourists from the remaining ones.


It has recently established its CBD market. This represents a significant step forward in an era where CBD can be smuggled. But medical reform, and also recreational reform, are both still in the future. A national trial is being conducted for chronic pain. However, it will only be a small one.


Plans to establish a recreational marijuana market have been delayed despite promises to do so by 2023. COVID, as well as continued anti-cannabis protests at regional levels, has made this difficult. This is not to say that some kind of cannabis market will not be in the offing next year, but don’t hold your breath that this is going to be particularly impactful on the overall debate. 


Portugal currently is one of the largest feeder markets for German medical cannabis—either grown domestically or as a passthrough product. Beyond this, the country’s last government promised recreational cannabis reform, but such promises have been decidedly muted since the new government took power earlier this year.


The country’s political leaders are angling to obtain as much foreign investment as possible, and of course, the cannabis industry represents all sorts of possibilities. As of this month, the Greek government finally announced that Greek patients can obtain cannabis from local pharmacies and tourists will be allowed to purchase it from such establishments as long as they have a doctor’s prescription. The country is absolutely on track to create a strong medical cannabis tourist sector—especially as this represents another form of foreign income.


Luxembourg beat Malta to the punch by announcing it had legalized Europe’s first recreational marketplace. Malta, however, is an island and is far from the mainland. While this is a significant first step, it is clear that there will be other countries to follow. You can carry up to 7 grams of cannabis and keep up to 50g at home. Individuals can grow marijuana at home, and eventually will be allowed to form nonprofits in order to disperse the cannabis through associations.


It is an interesting time for the country right now. Although cannabis clubs have been tolerated more than others, there has not yet been any federal reform. The local police just showed that things are still very sticky on many fronts. The police raided a farm that was drying hemp flowers for export to Europe, and they destroyed the crops. They also cited Spanish law regarding the extraction of CBD. 


It is a fascinating country. The possession of small amounts of marijuana is essentially legal. A number of recent court decisions have confirmed that cannabis cultivation for personal purposes is permissible when patients are very ill. Although cannabis is legal for medical use, there are still issues with insurance reimbursement. Patients in Germany face similar problems to those in the United States. Legal to grow hemp with less than 0.2% of THC. Recently, legalization was halted by the High Court. This ruling overturned citizens’ rights to hold a referendum about full legalization.


The country currently is in the middle a four year medical trial that began in 2018 and ended this year. Other European countries have begun to allow cannabis exports for medical purposes. Although there has been some discussion regarding allowing recreational use, nothing has yet been decided.


Even if the incumbent president, Emmanuel Macron, wins a second term, it is unlikely that there will be any significant legislative movement in the area of recreational tourism over the next four-years. It is now in the second year a very restricted medical trial. This is the best thing that could happen. If Macron’s challenger, Marine Le Pen, wins the election, expect France to be on one of the slowest boats forward, as she has suggested reigniting the Drug War. That said, as Europe’s largest hemp producer and the place where the KanaVape case was launched and won (allowing cross border CBD sales), it could be that reform here comes on the CBD front first, and further, via legal challenge.

Et cetera

Other European nations are making steady progress but it is slow. Poland’s highest court just overruled the main public health agency, the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate, in allowing hemp flowers as food. Czech Republic is continuing to push forward with both medical and CBD cannabis. Although North Macedonia is not part of the EU, it continues to work towards the European market. It even exported cannabis oil via other Eastern European countries starting in Poland. 

Austria, however, is in a very interesting time right now. However not much has changed in the past few years. It is now legal to possess seeds or plants, and it has also been made illegal for possession. But, it seems that the country is still in a waiting mode before moving forward. It is highly likely however that it will follow Switzerland and Germany’s lead as it shares a trading alliance with them.