With the news that both the first German bid has concluded and that Macedonia seems poised to import cannabis into the European Union, there has been increased interest in who can import cannabis into Germany, if not the EU and beyond.
Could Switzerland become a major source of cannabinoid medications in Europe? The International Cannabis Business Conference in Zurich will have the latest on these rapid developments across the European continent as experts converge to discuss the latest and network to help move the industry forward.
To fully know the answer about Swiss imports, we must unravel the myriad of rules, regulations and trade agreements that entangle governmental entities across global borders. According to the European Medicines Agency, Mutual Recognition of Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) agreements now exist with Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and of course the United States.
MRAs allow EU authorities and their counterparts to rely on each other’s GMP inspection system, share information on inspections and quality defects and waive batch testing of products that are imported.
In essence, MRAs are trade agreements that try to set equivalency standards between countries designed to facilitate the trade in pharmaceuticals across borders.
The European Commission is responsible for the negotiation of MRAS with countries on behalf of the EU. The European Medications Agency (EMA) is responsible for operational activities once the MRAs are in place.
And obviously, as cannabis enters the legal pharmaceutical space, this is fair game.
It is also clear that the discussions on the cannabis front, including the long delay in the German bid and the first tender lawsuit were caught up in larger international discussions about not only CETA (the trade agreement between the EU and Canada that was being negotiated during this process), but other geopolitical issues as well.
For instance, the ban of Israeli cannabis exports extended until Christmas of 2018 thanks to political posturing between the United States and Israel. The first market (of course) that the Israelis plan to target is Germany, followed closely, by the United States.
It is also no accident that just as the German bid news is concluding, Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth has just announced major inroads into American cannabis production.
The German government has admitted that it cannot grow enough cannabis fast enough and is opening its borders to imports; will Switzerland become an exporter of cannabis, particularly medicinal cannabis, into Germany and the rest of the EU?
The answer is a pretty easy yes.
Switzerland is not technically part of the EU, even though it sits in the middle of the European continent. The country also has multiple trade agreements with the EU. It is also part of a smaller, regional trade agreement between so-called DACH countries (Germany, Switzerland and Austria).
Expect Swiss innovators to look to the German market as a logical export destination, with the benefit of not only being right next-door, but also speaking the same language. Switzerland’s cannabis history has flown under the radar for a while, but the future is looking bright for the Swiss industry, if the government steps up to seize the opportunities before it.
For an in-depth understanding of the strategic nature of the Swiss pharmaceutical market in relation to the larger European medical cannabis discussion, be sure to attend the ICBC’s first event in Zurich on May 15-16. Discounted, early bird tickets are on sale through April 24th, so hurry to secure your spot and save!