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Europe’s Growing Cannabis Industry

Alex Rogers, CEO, founder and owner of ICBC. PHOTOS ICBC

Industry Events

Europe’s Growing Cannabis Industry

Timing is everything when it comes to being successful in Europe’s growing cannabis industry.

The European continent is home to a massive economy. It’s so large that four of the world’s top ten economies are located on the European continent (as measured by GDP). If a company in any major industry can gain a strong foothold in Europe, then it should be set up to reap potentially enormous financial rewards. This is particularly true for cannabis companies as reform continues to spread across the European continent.

Europe has long been home to some of the best cannabis communities on Earth. For several decades, Amsterdam, Netherlands’ capital, was considered the undisputed cannabis capital of the world. Tourists from around the globe traveled there to visit cannabis cafes and purchase world-class products.

Barcelona is another example of a European city that is home to a robust cannabis community. Hundreds of cannabis clubs operate in a legal grey area in the city, and cannabis is easy for travelers and locals to find. Many other cannabis-friendly cities are sprinkled throughout the European continent and remain popular destinations for cannabis enthusiasts.

A New Era Begins

As of this writing, no European country has fully legalized cannabis for adult use. Even in Amsterdam, where cannabis has historically been easy to find and purchase, cannabis is not technically 100 percent legal. Rather than permitting and embracing a completely legal industry, Europe’s cannabis-friendly jurisdictions have historically operated under policies that tolerate an unregulated cannabis industry.

However, In recent years, that has changed. Thanks to cannabis reforms, the legal cannabis industry has ramped up considerably in many countries in Europe – most notably in Germany. Since 2017, every doctor in Germany has been allowed to prescribe medical cannabis. That policy change initiated a tectonic shift in Europe’s cannabis industry landscape.

Initially, Germany did not have the infrastructure in place to supply its medical cannabis program. Consequently, Germany became the top destination for cannabis imports from other countries. Not every country allows medical cannabis imports, and even fewer have the market base to necessitate a large amount of imported medical cannabis products. Due to Germany’s unique position in the international cannabis scene, it has since become the legal cannabis industry capital of Europe and has ushered in a new era in Europe’s cannabis industry.

Getting in Early Makes a Big Difference

In recent years, the cannabis industry has matured for many European countries. Even so, the continent’s legal industry as a whole is still largely in its infancy. Once Europe’s policies fully embrace the cannabis industry across the continent, we will surely witness the arrival of some of the world’s largest cannabis companies that can be expected to stand strong for decades to come. Entrepreneurs and investors should get in as early as possible to ride the growing wave.

It’s not every day that a new, lucrative industry is created virtually overnight. 

Europe’s cannabis industry is currently governed by a patchwork of laws – but that will change. The future of Europe’s cannabis industry will be far more homogenized than it is now on the policy side, which will make it easier for entrepreneurs to navigate the industry on a continental scale.

Entrepreneurs joining the European industry later down the road will be at a distinct disadvantage compared to those who do the hard work of jumping in early and navigating the turbulent waters while building their brands. By the time uniform rules and regulations are in place, many consumers and patients will have already gravitated towards brands and services that they like and know.

How to Get an Edge in the Industry

Successfully diving into an industry full of ups and downs is not easy. It requires a certain kind of entrepreneurial mindset, hard work and a lot of learning and getting to know others working in the cannabis space. Education and networking are largely a matter of being at the right place at the right time.

With that in mind, the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Berlin is an unparalleled opportunity to learn about the latest policies and business opportunities in Europe. ICBC’s conference in Berlin, taking place Aug. 25-27, 2021, is the largest cannabis B2B event in Europe and will feature leading policy and industry experts from around the globe. 

It will also serve as the top industry networking opportunity on the continent, with industry representatives from as many as 60 countries expected to be in attendance. This year will also feature an ICBC Global Investment Forum event the day before the B2B conference, making it an even better opportunity to learn and network.

The next five to ten years will largely determine who dominates Europe’s cannabis industry for the next century and beyond. It’s very likely that we will never see as much of an opportunity to gain a lucrative footprint in Europe’s legal cannabis industry as we do right now. Timing is everything. 

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