While those in the Canadian cannabis market are certainly far ahead in obtaining full recreational acceptance for cannabis, and state markets in the U.S. are growing increasingly sophisticated, Germany has been and will continue to be one of the world’s most interesting cannabis markets for at least the next decade to come.
The Market Is In Its Infancy – But It is Being Integrated Into The Mainstream
Talk to the average German patient who has friends elsewhere, and such individuals talk longingly of a time when they can walk into a pharmacy (apotheke) and choose from a range of products on display like patients in Colorado, California, Oregon, Nevada, and Massachusetts. Or get it sent straight to their houses from the producer, via the mail like in Canada.
Right now, the German market is in its infancy. Patients can obtain either floss (flower) or oils, along with the synthetic pills, but apart from that, there is not a lot of variety here. Other kinds of products are so far unseen.
However, once patients do obtain coverage approval from their health insurers, they can obtain their monthly cannabis supplies for about $12. That beats the situation seen in every other legalizing country (including Israel where patients pay about $100 a month).
Germany was only the third country in the world to consider covering cannabis under mainstream or so-called “public” health insurance (after Israel and Holland). Holland in fact, dropped the practice as soon as German lawmakers decided to mandate insurance coverage.
The process right now to obtain that approval however is fraught with difficulty. It can be expensive and time consuming for all parties. That will not last, particularly as the drug is used by more patients and supplies increase through both importation and domestic production (expected to start next year).
For that reason, look to the German market as a hotbed of research as well as ways to drop the cost of medication on every front. It currently costs insurers (or those who are still waiting for their insurer to cover them) up to $3,000 per month for a regular prescription.
Or, to put this in stark relief, about twice the price of the black market. That too is not a situation that will hold, as post-prohibition history so far has also proved.
The German Market Is Driving The Pace In Europe
As maddening as the current cultivation license process has been so far, the fact of the matter is that the German decision to push ahead with a medical cannabis program was the catalyst for every single other European market. Including Holland.
However, it is precisely because of the “conservative” steps the Germans are taking (and the missteps too – see the cultivation bid process) that the rest of Europe is now taking the medical cannabis plunge.
The reality here is that no matter how slowly the acceptance is coming here, it is coming at a pace that also ensures that when cannabis is normalized, it will be integrated into the mainstream like no other place on the world. That approach already has been used as a template test by other countries across the continent. Poland may be following in almost lock step. But other countries, from Denmark, Spain, and Switzerland to Italy, Greece and even the UK, have, since Germany took the plunge in 2017, subsequently embarked on medical cannabis trial programs that borrow a great deal from their Deutsch neighbor. That is a trend that is also unlikely to end in the near future.
For all its frustrations, trials, and tribulations, the German market still sets the pace of reform across the EU. The International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin this March 31st to April 2nd, will provide a great opportunity to learn about the present and future of the German cannabis system and to network with top investors, entrepreneurs, and advocates from across Europe and the world.