The global gathering of the world’s financial elite got an addendum to the party this year in the form of the first “Cannabis Conclave.”

Company executives, former politicians, and decision-makers made their way, by cable car, to an alpine restaurant where they munched on Swiss food and listened to the likes of Ehud Barak (the former prime minister of Israel), and Bruce Linton, the CEO of Canopy Growth, on the shape of the cannabis industry currently, and the revolution still to come.

This was not the only event of the conference with a cannabis twist. There was also a second gathering held at the “Canada Cannabis House” sponsored by the Canadian Securities Exchange and the OTC Markets Group Inc. These are the two exchanges on which the bulk of public cannabis companies are listed. This event took place over three days, with speakers exploring everything from how to obtain funding to the potential of emerging cannabis markets.

As Europe gears up for what is likely to be a watershed year on the legislative reform and policy front, the global “elites” are clearly paying attention. The movers and shakers in Davos are just now catching up to the industry investors and entrepreneurs attending events like the International Cannabis Business Conference, which is storming through the European cities of Barcelona, Berlin, and Zurich this year.

European Cannabis Policies Are Changing – Fast

With this amount of interest from policymakers in the heart of Europe, we expect positive change to come relatively rapidly. Cannabis as a beneficial drug and an economic boost beyond is now hitting the discussion at a level never seen before. The European Parliament is finally coming to the table, after reforms have been advancing nation by nation throughout the European Union. Individual countries are now also clearly trying to push the discussion forward in a number of ways. That includes both Italy and Germany, but beyond them, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. Plus, of course, the UK, no matter what happens with Brexit.

However, what will stump most outsiders – perhaps more skilled or experienced in the cannabis industry – is how Europe is adapting to the great green wave. This is a far more regulated continent, and the focus on medicinal use is what is mostly driving the conversation – not recreational. That means that the integration of cannabis into the medical system in the EU will be far more complex, with a need for doctor and insurance company education.

That said, this too is about to change. Doctor education programs are now being organized and even funded in several countries, including Germany and Luxembourg (who is certainly moving forward with discussions about legalizing for all adults).

So for all the elite attention, or perhaps because of it, cannabis is now clearly in the room in the EU – and on track to be mainstreamed certainly by the middle of the next decade.

Photo courtesy of the World Economic Forum.