International Cannabis Business Conference veterans are showing up at all sorts of interesting conferences and expos these days auf Deutschland. Most notably last week Tobias Loder of Luxe 99 Apotheke joined Markus Fischer (also a pharmacist and the titular head of the new German Cannabis Pharmacy Association VCA) plus a host of familiar faces at a first of its kind expo.
Expopharm is not new of course. It is one of the largest pharmacy conferences in Europe, if not the largest. However, this year in Dusseldorf cannabis was featured for the first time as medicine.
The big firms showed up (of course), but what was notable, beyond the VCA, were the indie specialist distributors out in force.
Cannabis as medicine is now accepted in Germany, regardless of the fights that still remain on the ground. On the ground, those who are dealing with “last mile” issues that include everything from finding a doctor and a suitable pharmacist to approvals are in the room.
Beyond activists and patients in other words, the business community is coming together to face its own cannabis future.
Big Changes and Challenges Are Underway For German Pharmacists
German pharmacists are caught in a dilemma that nobody else is at present when it comes to the cannabis question. There are no chains larger than three (and in some cases four) brick and mortar outlets. Online sales are verboten.
Patients must interact with pharmacists to obtain their medications. Most patients must also obtain preauthorization from their health insurers to be able to afford their meds. On top of this, there is a new defacto fee structure in place – namely health insurers are forcing pharmacists to lower their mark-up costs. That pressure used to come 100% from distributors.
That is now changing, and so are other rules and norms.
As Peter Homberg of Denton’s law firm explained in Berlin last week at his firm’s medical cannabis conference, patients can now obtain a full three-month prescription for 100 grams of flower from their doctors. That means that pharmacies will be handling higher bulks, larger orders, and greater logistical challenges on getting the product on a regular basis.
Also, against all of this, the market is now opening for new products to enter the country.
What Makes This Cool
Producers who want to enter the German market with properly certified product are beginning to find that the market is opening up in an interesting way. Personal relationships and guaranteed delivery, as well as pricing, are the name of the game.
German pharmacists themselves are in the middle of a changing regulatory landscape that will continue to prove interesting for years to come.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars now for the fourth International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin April 1-3, 2020!