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Former Head of Policy for Uber Joins European Cannabis Industry

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Photo Dan Curtis for Cannabis Now


Former Head of Policy for Uber Joins European Cannabis Industry

European marijuana market continues to see upward growth trend.

The cannabis landscape isn’t just changing dynamically on this side of the Atlantic and Uber’s former head of public policy and government relations getting in the mix in Europe is a sure sign of these global changes.

Alex Costanzo may be a new name in cannabis, but he brings a proven skill set to a new challenge. How similar dealing will the hurdles of cannabis regulators across Europe will be to launching a rideshare service in new markets remains to be seen, but it would be foolish to say he hasn’t faced unique challenges before.

“Governments are opening up at a speed that it is hard to keep up with,” Costanzo told Bloomberg in an interview.

In his new cannabis adventure, Costanzo serves as the chief executive officer of UK-based EMMAC Life Sciences. The company hopes to bridge the lasted science and research with their cultivation and extraction programs. They will need to get these products on to shelves, but who better to lead the way than Costanzo as bringing new products to new markets is his thing. As the pace of change in Europe continues to be swift, someone with a background in government relations will best positioned to jump through new hoops. If they’re really good they might even help write the rules.

The company is also getting in the CBD game. Earlier this year EMMAC announced it had acquired the biggest CBD company in Switzerland, Blossom.

 “Europe’s wellness CBD market is witnessing explosive growth and we are delighted to be acquiring a market leader in premium quality wellness CBD products,” Costanzo said in late January in a statement on the acquisition. “EMMAC will focus on building on Blossom’s leading position in Switzerland and maximising the potential of the portfolio in other key European markets.”

The company cited Concord Genuity’s expectations that the CBD market will grow to somewhere between €2.8bn and €3.8bn by 2022.

Other numbers also pointed to the upward trend in the European market. In January, Health Europa reported the wider cannabis market on the continent could be worth up to €123 billion by 2028 and the market saw €500 million in investment last year from those hoping to get a piece of the action. They also noted the three largest medical marijuana markets, Italy, Netherlands, and Germany, saw their number of patients double last year.

The National Cannabis Industry Association says all this progress in Europe while the U.S. market remains so fractured may not be good for the local market long term. “This is one more sign that the U.S. is in danger of getting left behind in the global cannabis marketplace,” NCIA Media Director Morgan Fox told Cannabis Now in an email.

It’s definitely not rocket science that federal law will holdback U.S. companies from being competitive in Europe as the market expands.

One of the longtime industry experts with a front seat to everything going on in Europe is International Cannabis Business Conference executive producer Alex Rogers.

“The pace is even greater than the U.S.,” Rogers told Cannabis Now from Europe as he preps for ICBC’s Berlin edition next week. “The rapid growth of the European market has been accentuated by the hard work the U.S. and Canada have put in. Our Berlin ICBC is our biggest event we produce in the world, with attendees from over 60 countries.”

This also looks to be a departure away from the UK’s traditional lead in pharmaceutical medical cannabis in Europe. In addition to the likely influence the forthcoming Brexit will have on UK companies that will want to access the market, it certainly looks that emerging markets will have a far more diverse lineup than Sativex and Epidiolex. Both products are produced by UK company GW Pharmaceuticals.

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