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1st October 2019

Bringing Cannabis in from the cold

The fast-evolving medical cannabis industry & its upcoming opportunities

Laura Tabone, Events Director for Medical Cannabiz World writes about the fast-evolving medical cannabis market, the opportunities derived from new legislation and the promising applications of emerging technology, such as blockchain.

The numbers forecast for the future value of the European medical cannabis industry vary, but one thing is for sure, they are huge. One report by Prohibition Partners sees the market reaching €58bn by 2028. Other estimates are more conservative but the overall impression amongst analysts is that the next decade will see enormous growth.
One of the key drivers behind legislative changes has been activism by individuals who have used medical cannabis purchased on the black market to relieve various health problems. This transition from the black market to the mainstream is something that has been fought for and supported by people from many different quarters including private individuals, medical researchers, doctors and lawyers. But there is a bitter sweet sentiment in having achieved this goal.
Firstly, there are concerns about how a natural treatment is to be regulated and priced without making it inaccessible to those who need it and without taking away its authenticity as a plant-derived product. Secondly, legalisation has attracted a lot of small businesses to the industry. There are worries that complex regulatory frameworks and licensing fees will make it difficult for them to sustain a market presence against large corporations.
All parts of the supply chain, from investment and cultivation to patient education and product marketing, raise issues which need careful thought and discussion. With demand often outstripping supply in Europe, there’s a lot that needs to be done to maintain momentum and capitalise on this exciting market. Whilst certain legislation needs to be implemented at the EU level, the varied sociological characteristics of each country must not be ignored when it comes to other decisions.
The level of confusion around medical cannabis is also not to be underestimated. Public awareness is a significant factor in its future success. Patients or future patients with limited knowledge of medical cannabis need to understand the basics: Which strain is most suitable for which conditions? Are there any side effects to medical cannabis? Where’s the evidence for its benefits? Is it available on the public healthcare system?
It’s also important to consider the effect that the industry will have on ancillary products and services since medical cannabis will have a broad impact on the European economy, touching on many different business sectors. Future revenue and job creation projections need to take this into account.
The medical cannabis industry isn’t just about the legalisation of a new product, it’s about shifting perceptions, creating an environment that caters to small and large businesses and integrating medical cannabis into other business areas. Since medical cannabis is a young industry in Europe, there’s not only an opportunity to look at more established markets for guidance, but also to explore and incorporate new technologies and ideas. The next couple of years are crucial in developing a solid foundation for the future development of the industry. Since the ‘Production of Cannabis for Medicinal Use Act’ came into being in 2018, Malta is one European country that has positioned itself as an up and coming player in the medical cannabis world. A thriving business sector is just around the corner.
The Medical Cannabiz World Summit will take place from the 4th to 5th November at the Intercontinental, St Julian’s, Malta, to be followed by the inaugural launch of the Medical Cannabiz World Asia Summit which will be held in Bangkok on the 22nd and 23rd of June 2020 at the Centara Grand Hotel.
Read more interviews like this in Cannabiz magazine – out now!