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European Cannabis Outlook 2020 (And Farewell 2019)

Hemp Leaf Hemp Plant Cannabis Sativa

As 2019 comes to a close, what happened of note this year in Europe in regards to cannabis and what does this bode for next year? 

For all of the doom and gloom, if not scandals, on the Canadian cannabis front, it is clear that the cannabis industry has at least established itself in Europe in the last three years, albeit via niche rather than mainstream market entry strategies. Next year, while it is unlikely to see any “blockbuster developments,” it will be a building period yet again.

Scandals Were Inevitable

With laxly enforced, if not changing, regulation and Health Canada regulators overwhelmed, it is not surprising that there were both disasters and scandals this year, beyond any deliberate “bad actors” (although there were clearly those in the room too). That said, although the response from official sources has, so far, been slaps on the wrist, do not expect that to continue. 

In Germany, as of the end of the year, cultivation bid winner Aurora had zero cannabis in the country thanks to a GMP investigation at the source by German officials. This trend, and in countries far from Deutschland is likely to be a dominant theme in 2020.

In Europe at least, it is not just rules about cannabis that are changing. Harmonization of food and medical standards, which includes discussions about everything from pesticides to labeling, are in the room next year across the region because of European law and international harmonization.

Brexit will throw more questions into the mix.

Cannabis Europe, in other words, is set to have another growth year in 2020 – and in equally strange, one step forward, two steps backward kinds of ways.

The timetables for reform of greater kinds are now in the room, however, there is clearly a holding pattern too which is shaping up, as previously widely predicted, to be at the end of 2021. That is when Luxembourg is expected to allow the first national recreational market in Europe outside Holland.

With this stake in the ground, both non-EU countries of Denmark and Switzerland, also are likely to move in tandem but with probably not too much ahead.

In the meantime, smaller distribution deals are afoot, even in Europe’s most conservative markets.

Also, local producers, not backed or affiliated in any way with large companies (of either Canadian or even European extraction) are eyeing a clearly opening market, no matter the pain, stutters, and retrenchments that still inevitably will be found along the way.

Be sure to book your tickets for International Cannabis Business Conference Europe in 2020 in Berlin, Barcelona, and Bern!