Cannabis legalization typically takes a series of baby steps and then giant leaps depending on the location. Progressive states in the U.S. have typically started with decriminalization of personal amounts, then legal medical use, until finally ending prohibition for adults. More conservative states that haven’t yet legalized have added another step: embracing CBD, while still prohibiting cannabis products with more than trace amounts of THC. Some European nations have followed a similar path with CBD, Switzerland being a prime example.
This intermediate step of allowing CBD provides excellent economic opportunities without many of the same headaches that can hinder the burgeoning cannabis industry, such as the ability to export . According to a recent report by the Brightfield Group, a market intelligence firm for the cannabis industry, estimates that the current $318 billion European CBD market will boom over 400% over the next four years. From Brightfield report:
”CBD is just starting to take hold in Europe, with both product availability and consumer awareness still quite limited. This is a great opportunity for developed brands to enter and expand through Europe with far less competition than we’re seeing in the U.S. With the Novel Foods Act, it is a challenging legal environment to operate in, but impending regulatory changes are likely to smooth the way for significant mid-term growth,” Brightfield Managing Director, Bethany Gomez, highlights. CBD has been well received on a greater scale, especially in countries that already have medical or recreational cannabis programs and there are growing efforts in countries with no cannabis or CBD programs to have one or both in the coming years.
The largest CBD markets in Europe today are those of the United Kingdom (UK) and Austria, each of which made up an early $80 million market in 2018. The UK is expected to remain a market leader over the medium-term, though Germany’s growth is expected to outpace that of other EU countries,
· One key growth driver is countries, such as Switzerland and Spain, that are building out and improving regulations surrounding product quality – both in the cannabis and CBD markets – boosting consumer confidence
· Some of the top distribution channels are in smoke shops – CBD is often regulated like tobacco – and grocery stores.
CBD companies are in a unique position to thrive in a completely legal (mostly, anyway) market while also positioning themselves to be leaders when their state or nation fully legalizes cannabis. Even after cannabis prohibition ends, there will still be a huge market for high CBD products as many people will utilize the medicinal benefits of CBD, while avoiding the euphoric effect of THC (you know, folks gotta work, and stuff).
To learn the latest about CBD and cannabis industries, there is no better place to be than the International Cannabis Business Conference in Zurich this May 15-16. Get your tickets today! Every ICBC Zurich attendee also gains access to CannaTrade the following three days.