“It’s California in 1995 all over again, man.”
That was a comment I overhead during a conversation between an American and a German entrepreneur at the Mary Jane Berlin event held in Berlin in the second week of June, 2017.
Indeed, there may not be a better way to sum up the current state of the state here in Europe’s most populous country. Having been on the frontlines of the grassroots efforts in San Diego last century, it is fun to see how our industry is now growing in Germany and throughout Europe. And like California back then, or now, the struggle is not always easy.
Here’s another interesting quote of the month:
“European markets are increasingly important to the cannabis sector. Each has a well-funded medical system, residents who seek natural and complementary therapies, and a government-supported mandate to stop the rising tide of opiate addiction related to chronic pain treatment.”
-Benjamin Ward, CEO, Maricann Group, Inc.
As of August, 2017 starts, the medical marijuana patients in Germany are experiencing “sold out” conditions nationwide, and the two exclusive importing countries (Canada and the Netherlands) are anticipating further bottlenecks as their in-country supply needs change. This is a significant problem – but also an opportunity for GMP-certified growers to fill the gap. If, and how, the German government opens up alternative supply to support their medical patients will be the top story in Germany this year.
From the patients perspective, there are two bad things about the current state of affairs: Little to no choice in their required medicine and their insurance companies are now refusing to cover the costs for the medicine as stipulated in the federal law.
Of course, lawyers are now getting involved and insurance companies are starting to be forced into approving valid claims from their policy-paying customers. But it is a silly, slow process to say the least.
The solution the German government is pursuing is to award 10 grow licenses to companies that will then produce 200 lbs. cannabis each within the country. The first bud from those plants are not scheduled to be picked until sometime in 2019, which is simply too long for patients to wait.
Some of the companies that have been publicly mentioned as potential winners of a grow license are Spektrum Cannabis, which is the Canopy Growth company formerly known as MedCann; Maricann GmbH, which is the new German subsidiary of its Canadian parent, Bedrocan, that has been a leader in the industry but recently run into a dispute with their Canadian licensee, Bedrocan International; Aurora Cannabis from Canada, which recently acquired the German firm Pedianos adding an EU-wide, medical marijuana distribution capability; and ABCann of Canada, which touts the “Father of THC” Dr. Raphael Mechoulam as a key member of their board of directors.
Homegrow options in Germany are currently not permitted, and existing indoor/outdoor farm operations are not yet able to be registered, licensed and taxed.
The black market continues to win, and patients continue to lose. Cannabis business executives worldwide need to effectively work with the German government to develop the solutions we all know exist. Three organizations that are key to this effort are the BfArM (www.bfarm.de ) the DHV (www.hanfverband.de ) and the GTAI ( www.gtai.de )
My personal comment is the government, politicians and regulators here in Germany need to listen to their constituents who support our industry by over 60 percent nationwide, according to a recent poll. The total quantity of flower to be delivered by the 10 licensees is probably less than what my buddy Butch has in his building back in California to handle his patients which live within five miles of the office.
Yes I am joking, Butch usually has less, but the point is – it simply is not enough for a population twice the size of California.
With all the talk about Germany, it is also important to remember that it is one of 18 countries within Europe that currently allow for some form of medical marijuana. Besides Germany, there are provisions for the distribution and use of medical products in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and, the most recent addition, Poland.
This is an interesting list that, again, shows these are historic times here in Europe.
Sadly missing from the list above is the United Kingdom, and that has affected people we know. Our friend Vera Twomey, and her entire family had to leave the U.K. last month just to take care of their young daughter with Dravet’s Syndrome. In the U.K. their daughter suffered from up to 30 grand mal seizures a day while taking a regimen of pharmaceutical drugs.
Think about that for a moment – 30 grand mal seizures a day.
Now living as “medical refugees” from their homeland, the Twomey’s and their daughter are now dealing with zero grand mal seizures a day thanks to her medical marijuana.
30 grand mal seizures a day, now zero a day – everyday for the past 3-4 weeks.
The United Kingdom calls medical marijuana illegal. Patients and advocates call that thinking arcane, unjust, and possibly criminal itself. They are now petitioning the Human Rights Commission of the European Union in Brussels for help. I am positive their efforts will be successful – it is just a matter of time.
Vera and her family hope it comes within her daughter’s lifetime. That is all for now. Have a successful rest of the summer, rest up and get ready because I believe that Q-4 of 2017 is going to be a busy one for our industry and your company.