Patient Advocate since 1977.

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When people find out that we of all people are involved in the medical pot business, they make all kinds of jokes. It’s true: AK-47, Train Wreck and Durban Poison don’t exactly sound like medicine to us. But if AK-47 helps with spasticity, Train Wreck with seizures and Durban Poison with epilepsy, then we can easily live with those funky monikers.

We’re deeply unhip 60-year-olds. One of us, Lou, has never smoked pot in his life. The other, Amy, hasn’t tried it since high school.

But we’re concerned about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent announcement overriding a key Obama-era Justice Department advisory letter, allowing U.S. attorneys to prosecute cannabis activities approved at the state level.

That’s because we’re newly minted marijuana entrepreneurs.

At the moment, our business is still protected by federal law, thanks to temporary legislation that bars the Justice Department from using federal funds to crack down on the drug used for medical purposes in states where it’s legal. But that protection is on shaky ground. Congress needs to reauthorize or extend the protection as part of its spending bill by Friday, or our business – designed to help people with pain in their daily lives – will be at risk.

Given that we’re parents exhausted from raising four daughters, getting into a new business is probably the last thing we should be doing. But when we look at the potential benefits of this drug, we had to act.

Two years ago, we helped form a group that serves as the basis for a company with a Pennsylvania license – one of only 12 granted so far – to help those in pain. The group includes a doctor, some lawyers, accomplished business people and experts at growing and processing medical marijuana.

When people find out that we of all people are involved in the medical pot business, they make all kinds of jokes. It’s true: AK-47, Train Wreck and Durban Poison don’t exactly sound like medicine to us. But if AK-47 helps with spasticity, Train Wreck with seizures and Durban Poison with epilepsy, then we can easily live with those funky monikers.

Every morning when we open our local newspaper, we see the heartbreaking effect of opioid addiction. Sometimes it’s two souls lost, sometimes three. Most are young, beautiful people. More and more of the obituaries honestly admit that the cause of death was opioid or heroin addiction. But we have never heard of someone overdosing on marijuana. And in fact, states that approved medical marijuana have reportedly seen a 25 percent reduction in opioid-related deaths.

A few years ago, Lou’s sister was dealing with primary liver cancer. One thing that helped her deal with the pain was marijuana-infused brownies that a friend of hers sent in from California. Likewise, when Amy’s mother was suffering with terminal lung cancer, the opiates prescribed for her caused constipation and left her in a constant fog, not remotely herself. But medical-marijuana brownies given to her by a friend of a friend eased her pain and helped her to develop a bit of an appetite. She even laughed and preserved part of her personality. Every hospice professional we spoke to approved of the brownies.

Lou has a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, which is one of the conditions that the Pennsylvania law allows prescriptions for. We know of other people with MS who suffer with severe spasticity that have been helped by medical marijuana. We have seen firsthand how medical marijuana relieves suffering.

The same medical marijuana our company will grow is already helping patients in Nevada and California. We will produce our medical marijuana in a sterile, pharmaceutical environment, constantly testing and purifying the plants from any chemicals used in processing. We will also precisely label THC and cannabidiol content for each extract and recommend useful applications of our products for specific diagnoses. At the same time, we’ll be able to conduct long-lasting, serious research on which strain works best for which illness.

Sessions has said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” While Pennsylvania does not allow marijuana in plant form to smoke, with all due respect, we beg to differ. Who among us knows when we will have a child a parent or a spouse who is suffering the pain of chemotherapy or epileptic seizure, or who is not responding well to a hospice treatment? Don’t we want the best methods of pain relief for our loved ones?

Lawmakers in Congress need to ensure that medical marijuana remains protected. If they will not, prosecutors need to exercise their discretion and allow businesses like ours to operate.

After weighing the pros and the cons of medical marijuana, we come out strongly in favor of the sensible and regulated approach that Pennsylvania is taking. We are proud to be among those who made a difference in helping our family, friends and neighbors deal with their pain.

Amy Weiss is a sweat-equity partner in a group that has a license to grow and process medical marijuana in Pittsburgh. Lou Weiss, her husband, is a carpet salesman.


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German Media Reports Dramatic Increase in Cannabis Patients Covered by Insurance – Marguerite Arnold


German Media Reports Dramatic Increase in Cannabis Patients Covered by Insurance

By Marguerite Arnold

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A surprising new report details the growth in Germany’s medical cannabis market.

German media is now reporting that in the first 10 months of medical cannabis reform, over 13,000 applications for medical cannabis have been received by the largest three public health insurance companies. Most of the applications were received (and processed) by AOK who received 7,600 applications. Barmer received 3,200 applications. Krankenkassen Techniker (or TK as it is widely referred to here) received approximately 2,200 applications.

The reality is that most patients still rely on the black market.Between 62-64% of those who applied at the big three were also reimbursed. That means that there are already close to 10,000 patients, if not slightly more, covered under some kind of reimbursed cannabis scheme in Germany (where cannabis costs only $10 per month as a co-paid expense). When cannabis is not covered by health insurance, however, patients must pay out of pocket for the drug which can run as much as $3,000 for a single month’s supply.

This information is also being released, fascinatingly, not from the government, insurance companies or even advocacy groups. Instead it comes from a report produced by local media (the Rheinische Post in Dusseldorf). The media outlet surveyed the three top largest health insurance companies on the number of cannabis-as-medicine applications they have received since the cannabis law was reformed last year.

Home cultivation and recreational use, except in a few city trials now underway in places like Bremen, is still outlawed on a federal level. The new law also specifically prohibits patients from growing their own. And since the reform law passed last year, the prevailing story from patients is the difficulties they have had in not only finding a doctor willing to prescribe cannabis, but also getting their health insurers to reimburse them for huge out of pocket expenses that most of the chronically ill can never hope to afford.

The reality is that most patients still rely on the black market. It is still easier to get cannabis this way. And far cheaper – unless of course approved by health insurance.

What Does This Mean For The Bigger Picture?

Despite the fact that many in the mainstream German media are still highly sceptical of the medical efficacy of cannabis, the tide is turning here too, rather dramatically. According to recent polls, about 57% of the country is ready for recreational reform. That means in the last four to five years, the majority of public opinion has also shifted. It is also clear that medical cannabis cannot be as easily dismissed as it once was. Here or anywhere.

What makes this even more interesting is the impact this now moving situation will have on the debate, particularly domestically, but also internationally.

The first is that Germany clearly has a huge number of potential patients. Local advocates put the real number here north of 1 million for conditions the drug is commonly prescribed for in other places. At the present time, the only doctors who are allowed to prescribe the drug must also have a special license to dispense such restricted “narcotics” as cannabis is now classified auf Deutsch. And the only “on-label” condition for cannabis is still Multiple Sclerosis. That means that cancer, AIDS, chronic pain and movement disorder patients, along with those who manage to get approved for PTSD, ADD, depression and other “psychological” disorders only get the drug approved as a measure of “last resort.” In other words, after all other drugs fail. That is a high bar to pass.

The second, as a result, is that these numbers appear artificially low for another reason. The government claimed upon passage of the cannabis reform legislation last year that it expected only 10,000 new patients a year for the first few years (and before domestic cultivation began). As these results already prove, there are clearly far more patients who want the drug than those who can get it. There are also more patients whose doctors are willing to write prescriptions for the drug than are getting reimbursed by public health insurance.Bottom line? No matter how slow it is in getting started, the medical cannabis market has arrived in Germany. The numbers will only grow from here.

Third, this entire debate is now happening at a time when Germany is re-examining its own health insurance policies. While 90% of the country is on much cheaper public healthcare, 10% of the country, mostly the self-employed, foreigners and high earners, have private coverage. This is highly expensive, and ends up trapping even Germans in a system that is unaffordable as they age. In fact, the issue is a big one in Berlin right now as particularly the SPD is pushing Chancellor Merkel and the CDU to finally address a growing problem.

The law last year mandated that public health insurance must cover cannabis if prescribed under the right conditions. That means that private health insurers have to cover it too.

On the cannabis front specifically, what this may indicate, however, is that the public health insurers are being tasked to only approve a certain pre-identified number of patients nationally in the early part of the cannabis program. Especially as all of the medical cannabis in the country is still imported – and most of that is still coming from Canada.

What these numbers clearly show however, beyond all the caveats, is that demand is starting to pick up. Cannabis as medicine has not entirely caught on in the mainstream, although Germans are clearly interested in the idea. Especially given all the noise and news from abroad on this front.

It also means that no matter how “anaemic” these numbers may seem in early 2018, it is a respectable kick-off to what many in the industry view as one of the world’s most lucrative medical cannabis markets. Counting the approximately 1,000 patients who received medical cannabis before the law changed last year, it is safe to say that the market is now up and running.

Bottom line? No matter how slow it is in getting started, the medical cannabis market has arrived in Germany. The numbers will only grow from here.

How Does This Compare To Other Countries?

But how does the German patient ramp up compare to other countries after significant reform has been passed?

In Canada, the cannabis-as-medication discussion is clearly mainstream as the country prepares to launch its recreational program later this summer. The medical program began in 2014. The most recently released figures as of the beginning of January 2018, show that medical cannabis has clearly caught on. Health Canada’s most recent figures show that by September of last year, there were 235,621 registered cannabis patients in the country. Significantly, this is also up dramatically from 174,503 registered patients as of just April 2017. The previous year, the total number of cannabis patients literally tripled in 2016. To put this in “historical perspective,” as of Q1 2015, about a year into the new medical law in Canada, there were “only” 23,930 patients (or about twice the number in Germany as of now). This growth is all the more impressive when one considers that there is no mandate for insurance coverage of the drug in Canada. That said, cannabis is far cheaper in Canada. It is of course covered domestically. Plus the licensed producers can mail order it directly to patients.

Israel’s path to medical cannabis access has been slower off the ground in terms of overall numbers, but it is has still dramatically expanded over the past decade too. In 2012, there were about 10,000 cannabis patients in Israel. That number more than doubled by 2016 to over 23,000 patients. This will continue to increase too. Israel’s medical cannabis is covered under national health insurance and patients must pay about $100 a month for their meds.

What Is The Official German Government Response To This News?

Marlene Mortler, German drug commissioner for the federal government and affiliated with the CSU, has issued comments that seem to be supportive of the continued program in Germany. “The growing number of permits shows how important it was to launch this law last year,” she said, while warning that medical cannabis is not a panacea.

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Sadhu van Hemp



2017 was once again a good year – for the prohibitionists. It has not yet taken stock, but the statistics of the law enforcement agencies will hardly differ from those of the previous years – and if so, then not for the better. Alone with the victims of the anti-hemp war on German soil, the Berlin Olympic Stadium would fill two to three times to the last standing room. This trend will continue in 2018, as there is no sign of political will in the world that wants to satisfy the wishes of the majority of the population for the decriminalization of hemp friends.


Thus, the new year will begin as the old one ended: Thousands of police and customs officers will go around the clock every day on the trail of the illegalized green plant and ensure that the flood of criminal charges because of the violation of the hemp ban does not abate. Millions of cannibals will be patrolled and humiliated in public by police officers next year. Plenty of urine, sweat and blood will flow to prove to the caught hemp friends that they have committed a crime. As usual, much-needed taxpayers’ money for the hunt for cannabis detractors and their condemnation is wasted elsewhere. Boundless will be the suffering that is brought over those affected. From the driver’s license withdrawal,


But despite all the tribulations, which is in the wake of the hemp prohibition: The bottom of the misery may have passed. In 2017, as in previous years, there was a glimmer of light on the horizon, which is steadily brighter and makes the damage caused by the anti-cannabis war visible. The dawn has long since begun. Reason awakens in the minds of people who no longer want to be led astray by warmongers like the Federal Drug Commissioner. The fresh breeze of cannabis legalization blowing from the US leaves us breathless and encourages us to break away from the shackles of prohibition in Europe too. The screaming necks of the anti-hemp faction are inexorably being sidelined, and the louder they are crunching against decriminalizing consumers,


The renaissance of the sacred plant is unstoppable. A glimpse across the pond would actually have to satisfy the incorrigible prohibitionists of Christian and Social Democracy to see that their restrictive cannabis policies are obsolete and no one has the slightest chance of winning the anti-hemp war. The re-legalization of the hemp could not stop even a US President Donald Trump. Instead of enforcing the federal law and invading soldiers in those states that have released cannabis in an illegal arbitrariness, the big mouth of the diehard ducks away and silent. Fainting, the most powerful man in the world watches as people who are outlawed and hemp gardeners become respected people and good taxpayers, who instead of sitting in jail peacefully at home with mothers on the sofa. The White House, the Congress, the federal courts, all of them, have their hands on their hands in 2017, to balance whether it’s even worthwhile, states like Colorado and California to be the ultimate battleground for the war on drugs to declare and pacify with force of arms.


The paradigm shift in the US will also rub off on Germany. 2017 was already a historic year, after allowing the care of chronically ill people with cannabis without exemption. The course has been set for a state cannabis agency that coordinates and controls the cultivation and distribution of medicinal hemp. This is the path to the future – and in 2018 there will be more voices calling for the same pragmatism for the decriminalization of indulgence.


But not the need of cannabis users will be the focus of political thinking and action, but the profane desire to earn money with the “green gold”. In 2018, local businesspeople will be full of envy across the Atlantic, where the ruble rolls and cannibals become millionaires in the course of cannabis legalization. The self-contained cannabis market in the US and Canada is akin to an El Dorado for those working in the medicinal herb industry and flourishing an entire industry in just a few years. And that almost unrivaled, as long as the rest of the world looks on idly and holds on to prohibition.


The discontent about the monopoly position of the North Americans will grow. Out of “shit money”? Then it also craves the Germans – with or without cannabis agency. Sooner or later, politics will have no choice but to admit the trade around hemp and to distribute licenses for making money. The only question is to what extent the new branch of business grows out of itself or is just grafted on. Long-established hemp gardeners and retailers will hardly get a business license for production and trade from the competent office for a few fifty euros. The criminalized hemp scene will go blank. Those who draft the Cannabis Control Act are politicians bound to the raison d’etat – and they do not tolerate any economic paradox. That the little ones get the cake and the big ones the crumbs,


To ensure that everything is in order, the thought leaders will shape the reform of the narcotics law so that the supply of the population with pleasure hemp is reserved for the health industry. Under the supervision of the BfArM, the multibillion-dollar branch of business will grow out of pharmaceutical companies and pharmacists – and this without any significant resistance from cannabis users, who will be shouting over the industrial product with all their luck.

The state-controlled hemp cultivation and trade, however, will only lead to new injustices. Not every pothead is willing to pay an absurdly high price, which is subject to the dictates of profit maximization. Not everyone wants to settle for standardized artificial grass and forgo the variety of hemp flourishing in nature. The Cannabis Control Act will not prevent the import of hashish from the Orient. The profession of hashish smuggler and dealer will die out as much as that of the guerrilla warrior. Especially because not all hemp friends are registered as drug users and want to be monitored by the state.


Whatever the case, the path to decriminalization that is being taken in Germany is a wood path. The brains who will come up with the Cannabis Control Law are woodheads who are running into a dead end in search of consensus and who, with every lazy compromise, move further away from the goal of full legalization. 2018 could be the year that finally breaks the dream of cannabis free trade. Anyone who paves the way for a cannabis control law has no intention of giving man and nature the forbidden plant without any ifs or buts.


Sadhu van Hemp

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CanniMed Therapeutics Inc. Announces Strategic International Cannabis Distribution Agreement with Fagron NV Fagron to utilize its existing international distribution network to market and distribute CanniMed medicinal cannabis products to 17 specified countries with aggregate population of over 760 million Primary initial focus on Germany.


CanniMed Therapeutics Inc. Announces Strategic International Cannabis Distribution Agreement with Fagron NV

  • Fagron to utilize its existing international distribution network to market and distribute CanniMed medicinal cannabis products to 17 specified countries with aggregate population of over 760 million
  • Primary initial focus on Germany
  • Germany fully legalized medicinal cannabis in March 2017
  • Germany’s ~22,000 pharmacies serve a population of over 82 million
  • Demand for medicinal cannabis in Germany outstrips supply

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CanniMed Therapeutics Inc. (TSX: CMED) (“CanniMed” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a global marketing and distribution agreement (the “Agreement”) with the leading global pharmaceutical compounding company Fagron NV of Rotterdam, The Netherlands (Euronext Brussels: FAGR and Euronext Amsterdam: FAGR). Under the Agreement, Fagron and CanniMed will work closely together in utilizing Fagron’s extensive infrastructure to supply CanniMed’s medicinal cannabis products in Germany and other specified countries. Pursuant to the terms of the Agreement, CanniMed is working to supplement its Canadian GMP compliant status with GMP certification in Europe for its cannabis products, which it anticipates will be achieved in Q2 2018. Fagron and CanniMed anticipate first product sales into Germany will commence in Q3 2018, subject to obtaining required export permits.

Pursuant to the Agreement, CanniMed is Fagron’s supplier of cannabis products in the specified countries and the two companies will commit resources to develop and execute a combined marketing and distribution strategy to establish CanniMed as a strong brand in these countries.

“Fagron is perfectly positioned in the highly attractive German market as well as several other countries to drive the penetration of our pharmaceutical grade cannabis products. Our first primary target market, Germany, is particularly exciting as it has legalized medicinal cannabis for distribution through pharmacies and with a population of over 82 million which is more than double that of Canada” said Brent Zettl, President and CEO, CanniMed. “Fagron brings the connections, experience and market credibility to be a highly impactful partner for us internationally. We anticipate that the majority of medicinal cannabis products demanded in these countries will be oils and oil derivate products such as capsules, sublingual wafers and topical creams. The first 12 million 60 ml bottles phase of our 50 million bottles per year oils plant will be coming onstream in late 2018 and will be the foundation for meeting escalating international and domestic medicinal oils demand.”

Rafael Padilla, CEO of Fagron stated “We are very pleased to be working with an industry-leading company such as CanniMed and we believe the German market is a prime target for CanniMed’s highly respected cannabis products, driven by widespread acceptance in Germany of the many medicinal benefits of cannabis. We believe CanniMed has the opportunity to become a long-term major medicinal brand in Germany, where demand for medicinal cannabis products exceeds supply. We are confident that our depth of cannabis and pharmaceutical experience together with our established marketing infrastructure and connections in Germany and other countries combined with CanniMed’s leading expertise and products will be very effective in achieving international market penetration of CanniMed’s products.”

About CanniMed Therapeutics Inc.

CanniMed is a Canadian-based, international plant biopharmaceutical company and a leader in the Canadian medical cannabis industry, with 17 years of pharmaceutical cannabis cultivation experience, state-of-the-art, GMP-compliant production process and world class research and development platforms with a wide range of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis products. In addition, the Company has an active plant biotechnology research and product development program focused on the production of plant-based materials for pharmaceutical, agricultural and environmental applications.

CanniMed, through its subsidiaries, was the first producer to be licensed under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, the predecessor to the current Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. It was the sole supplier to Health Canada under the former medical cannabis system for 13 years, and has been producing safe and consistent medical cannabis for thousands of Canadian patients, with no incident of product diversion or recalls.

For more information, please visit our websites: www.cannimed.ca (patients) and www.cannimedtherapeutics.com(investors).

About Fagron NV

Fagron NV, located in Waregem, Belgium and with operational head office in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, is publicly listed (FAGR) on Euronext in Brussels, Belgium and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Fagron has over 2,000 employees and is active in 34 countries around the world, with a focus on the core regions Europe, South America and the United States. Fagron is a leading global pharmaceutical compounding company, bringing personalized pharmaceutical care to hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and patients.

In Germany, Fagron’s extensive infrastructure is connected into the country’s approximately 22,000 pharmacies, where it is active in distributing a wide range of pharmaceutical products.

For the year ended December 31, 2016 Fagron reported global revenue of €422 million ($CAN633 million) and EBITDA of €87 million ($CAN130 million).

Notice Regarding Forward Looking Statements

This news release contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of CanniMed to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.

These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements relating to our expectations with respect to: anticipated product sales revenue by CanniMed and first product sales in Q3 2018. Often, but not always, forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of words such as “plans”, “expects” or “does not expect”, “is expected”, “estimates”, “intends”, “anticipates” or “does not anticipate”, or “believes”, or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved. In respect of the forward-looking statements and information concerning the Agreement and its anticipated benefits. CanniMed has provided such statements and information in reliance on certain assumptions that it believes are reasonable at this time, including assumptions as to the ability of CanniMed to obtain all required permits and approvals for sales to Germany. There can be no assurance that the revenue to be generated from product sales will not be adversely affected by production or supply delays and changes in market prices. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements and information contained in this press release.

Since forward-looking statements and information address future events and conditions, by their very nature they involve inherent risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially from those currently anticipated due to a number of factors and risks including delays in permitting and production. Readers are cautioned that the foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. Additional information on other factors that could affect the operations of CanniMed are included in documents on file with applicable securities regulatory authorities, including the Annual Information Form of CanniMed dated December 8, 2017, available on sedar.com.

The forward-looking statements contained in this news release are made as of the date of this release and, accordingly, are subject to change after such date. CanniMed does not assume any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether written or oral, that may be made from time to time by us or on our behalf, except as required by applicable law.

Neither the Toronto Stock Exchange or its Regulation Services Provider accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.


CanniMed Therapeutics Inc.
Dara Willis, 416-836-9272
Investor Relations

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Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, Part 8: Opportunities

Gooey Rabinski

Welcome to Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, where I take exactly 420 words of your day to teach you about the business and science of the emerging cannabis industry. I promise to address any feedback in the comments.

To set the mood, listen to Cab Calloway tell you how it is in 1932, five years before marijuana became illegal in the United States.

Previous installments in this series:

So you wanna get into the cannabis industry, eh? Despite the prevailing panic among eager entrepreneurs who fear they’ll be left behind, there’s going to be plenty of opportunities….  

Replacing the Fallouts

Please don’t mistake me some a pessimist (I’m…

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European Cannabis News Roundup 2017 And Predictions For 2018 By Marguerite Arnold

Germany, Poland, Spain, Slovenia, Portugal and Greece have made considerable efforts to legalize cannabis.

Europe saw big developments on the cannabis front all year. This includes country-by-country developments that include legalization of medical use and even plans to begin domestic production, no matter how delayed such plans have turned out to be.

By far the most interesting market developments were in Germany all year. The Teutonic state has entered some interesting territory – even if its potential is still in the development rather than rollout status.

Elsewhere, however, medical acceptance is clearly starting to bloom across the continent in a way that is more reminiscent of American state development than what is about to happen in Canada.

One of the most interesting aspects of European reform however, that is in marked difference to what has happened in the U.S., is that grow facilities are being slowly established with federal authorization, even before further reform comes (see Turkey, Slovenia, Germany and even Denmark).

How reform will continue to roll out and shape the discussion however, is still a matter very much left up to individual European states. Cannabis legalization may become the first uniting issue of the new Deutsch ruling parliamentary coalition, whatever that is. In Spain, the cannabis question might yet be a play in simmering separatist tensions. Across the continent, legislatures are, for the first time in two generations, reconsidering what cannabis is, how it should be used, and what the penalties should be for those who use the drug either medicinally or recreationally.

Change is still all over the map. And it is still very, very slow.


The country’s federal legislators voted unanimously to mandate medical coverage of cannabis under public health insurance (which covers 90% of the population) on January 19th. Since then, however, forward movement has been stymied by a combination of forces and politics. While the legislation became law in March and the government established a cannabis agency, other developments have not been so clear cut. Yes, import licenses are being issued. And yes, there is a pending tender bid. However announcements of the finalists have been delayed since August due to lawsuits over qualifications of the growers, among other things. The new German government (whatever it will be) plus apparent CETA (EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement)-related complications have all added to the drama. That said, when the cannabis opera moves into its next act, as of probably early next year, expect to see domestic medical grow go forward. Importing medical supplies, even from across the continent (which is what is happening now) is ludicrously expensive. Rumours are already flying out of Berlin that further cannabis reform is one of the few things that all parties can agree to as a new government forms.


Sadly, the biggest cannabis-related “development” this year was the decision by all major health insurers to stop covering the drug, just as the German government changed its mind about the issue. Greater regulation of coffee shop grows coupled with this lack of insurance coverage means that patients are being forced into a coffee shop culture which is also commoditizing and commercializing into a high-volume affair, particularly in Amsterdam. While this might just be the new face of an old business, the laid back “coffee shop” culture of yore is an endangered species.

Barcelona, capital of Catalonia
Photo: Bert Kaufmann


Catalonian independence made headlines globally this year. So did the associated bid for other freedoms of a cannabis sort – particularly in Barcelona. Club grows were set to become more regulated as of this summer. However the massive Catalonian bid for independence has further muddied the waters. Given the fact that cannabis reform appears to be at the forefront of finding political compromise elsewhere in Germany, perhaps givebacks about taxes for this industry might be one way to temper down the still-raging separatist forces afoot.


The Polish government surprised everyone this fall, and legalized the drug for medical purposes (at least in theory) in November. What this actually means for patients is another story. There are no plans to cultivate on the radar. Patients under the new law are allowed to travel to other countries to seek their medical cannabis. How they might afford it is another question. Not to mention how they will escape prosecution from personal importation if checked at a border.

Warsaw, Poland
Image: Nikos Roussos, Flickr

Polish pharmacists will however be trained on how to make medicaments from imported cannabis. They will have to be registered with the Office for the Registration of Medical Products. This means that pharmacists must be pre-registered with the government – in a move much like the early days of the Israeli medical program. The medicine is expected to cost about $460 a month. How well this will work in serving the country’s more than 300,000 already eligible patients is another story.


Cannabis economists have long said that what the Greeks really need to heal their economy is a vibrant cannabis injection. And as of mid-November early investors in the nascent market had already staked close to $2 billion in cultivation opportunities. Senior ministers in the government have also publicly backed plans to move Greece into a strategic position to claim a piece of a global cannabis market estimated to reach 200 billion dollars a year by the end of the next decade. It means jobs. It means capital infusions. Exactly, in other words, what the Greek economy desperately needs. Expect to see further formalization of the grow program here in 2018 for sure.


It appears that quite a few countries in Europe are pushing for real cannabis reform by the end of the year, and this little EU country is joining the list. With a unanimous agreement in Parliament already to change the country’s drug policy, Lithuania’s legislators could vote to legalize the drug on December 12th of this year. All signs look promising.


MCG, an Australian-based company, made news in the fall by announcing a new cannabinoid extraction facility in the country, on track for completion this year. The company also ramped up domestic production operations in August. Real reform here still has a long way to go. However with domestic production underway, greater medical use looks promising.


The country signed a production agreement to open a new facility in Odense, the country’s third largest city with Spektrum Cannabis, the medical brand of one of the largest Canadian producers (Canopy Cannabis) now seeking a foothold in Europe late this fall. What this means for ongoing reform in Denmark is also positive. The company will import cannabis via Spektrum Denmark until all the necessary approvals are ironed out for cultivation.


While “reform” here is less of an issue than it is elsewhere (since all drugs are decriminalized), Portugal might yet play an interesting role in cross-European legalization. Tilray, another large Canadian-American firm with interests in Europe, announced the construction of a large medical cannabis facility in the country earlier this year. That plant could easily ship medical supplies across Europe as new countries legalize but do not implement grow facilities.