As a cannabis business executive, you undoubtedly have been following some of the significant events happening in Europe and you have asked yourself: “How does this affect my plans?”
It may be the German government establishing a nationwide medical marijuana program, or news about the Canadian companies buying or merging with their European counterparts that has your attention. But you know the times are a changin’ and you might want to benefit from this historic moment in our Industry.
For those companies that already have a strategic international plan in place, the opportunities are boundless. Germany, a nation with 2.5 times the population of California, is leading the way with the a national, Federal-government approved, medical marijuana law already in place, and numerous regional efforts to establish recreational use are getting off the ground as I write this column.
Having been an advocate in California during the medical marijuana legalization push of 1990s, and now living here in Germany as they build their own regulated marketplace, it has been fun to be involved. I’d now like to share some of the organizations that may be able to help you and your company, if Europe is indeed on your radar.
Das Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte (BfArM) is the German federal government’s Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices and is lead by Professor Dr. Karl Broich. Their website is www.bfarm.de and they are basically the cannabis bureau of Germany, charged with implementing the medical marijuana law. Interestingly, they will also be the sole purchaser of foreign-produced medical marijuana products, and then oversee the distribution exclusively though licensed pharmacies.
So Germans will be going to their local pharmacy to obtain their medicine, which officially should be paid by their insurance company. Of course, the details are still being worked out, and I know of at least two lawsuits against insurance companies not paying for their clients medicine.
Last month, the BfArM put out a call for bids for the first ten authorized grow licenses in the history of Germany. Negotiations are underway and the winning bidders should be announced shortly. We will keep you updated on this, and all important details emanating from Europe, in future columns.
The Deutscher Hanfverband (DHV) is the German Hemp Association in Berlin and a fantastic resource and advocacy organization. They have been instrumental in getting the country to this point and their website is https://hanfverband.de I highly recommend signing up for their newsletter (which can easily be translated.) Their next big event is the Hanf Parade in Berlin in August which will bring together over 10,000 advocates calling for open access.
For companies that want to get serious about being in Europe, the best organization I know of is the German Trade and Investment office located in Berlin which is part of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs. Their website is www.gtai.de.
Their knowledge is vast, their connections incredible, and there is no charge for their services. They want to make it easy for international companies in our space to help Germany build their regulated marketplace. They provide advanced research, site-selection, tax information. And.. they are just an email or phone call away.
Of course, there are a total of 51 independent states that make up Europe and 28 of those make up the European Union. To some degree all of these countries are changing the way they treat medical marijuana and CBD products.
If you are looking for some opportunities in this region, I would suggest looking not only at Germany, but also The Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. Although Israel is not in the EU region, their expertise, leading edge research, products and capabilities are to be noted.
Before concluding, I need to give a shout out to Mr. Alex Rogers and his team at ICBC Berlin who put together one of the best industry events I have ever attended. Back in April, in Berlin, almost 1000 attendees and exhibitors from throughout the world gathered to share information, make connections and close business deals.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the Cannabis Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, was the keynote speaker and shared stories on his German ancestry, his first meeting with Ronald Reagan, and why legalizing our plant makes sense in so many ways.
Tommy Chong was also in attendance, was way coherent, and meeting him was definitely one of my personal highlights. Yes, I admit it, I listened to his albums way back in 1971.
So I wish you a productive, successful and fun month ahead as we collectively take the next steps to “Make Cannabis Great Again” here in Europe, and wherever you are reading this in the world.