Yes, Germany will soon have the most substantial medical marijuana market in the world. They are already the European Union's largest economy and are now poised to become the world’s most massive medical marijuana market.
Germany imports most of its cannabis. Although the country has made great progress in their medical marijuana legislation and policies, the battle over the domestic cultivation plan is being waged in German courts. Since they’re not likely to sort out their cultivation issues any time soon, that means the other two countries—Canada and the Netherlands—where Germany gets most of its import are gleefully happy. They’re even happier that recreational cannabis is likely on the horizon in Germany, too. For now, Germans expect to import cannabis for at least the next ten years to keep up with patient demand for MMJ. Hopefully, by then, they’ll have a booming cultivation process in place.
Glen Shear, former executive director of CIBC World Markets, says that Germany’s cultivation quandary is likely to be tied up in the courts for some time. Shear says that new regulations, including cultivation, take time because growing standards, sales, testing, security, transportation and more must be considered.
Germany imports more medical cannabis from Canada than any other country on the planet. In 2017, Germany imported an astonishing 169 kilograms of MMJ oil alone from Canada. Exporters from both Canada and the Netherlands have a big head start and a huge lead in the European market because of it. Therefore, countries like Germany usually import MMJ to meet demand as they formulate their regulatory structure around domestic cultivation.
As such, Canadian cannabis is—literally—everywhere in Germany. Currently, over 20,000 German pharmacies regularly supply MMJ from Canadian suppliers like Aurora, Tilray, Cronos, Maricann, ABcann, CanniMed (now Aurora), Nuuvera (now Aphria international) and MedReleaf. German law dictates that MMJ can only be sold through pharmacies.
So what is the reason for Germany’s dominance? One reason is that German insurance companies are now covering MMJ and the number of patients skyrocketed as a result in 2017. According to German insurance analysis, 500 patients asked for health insurance reimbursements in January 2017. By December, that number had grown to 13,000 reimbursement requests. The number is expected to rise to even higher levels in 2018. Germany has 70 million residents, and they also have a mandatory health insurance system. Patients are free to shop for insurance plans that cover medical marijuana. Unlike the U.S., Germans are not required to register with the government to use cannabis.
This demand creates tremendous business opportunity for suppliers who can step in to fill Germany’s growing shortage of medical marijuana.
For now, importers have cornered the market, but experts see several trends ahead. First, as Germany develops its domestic industry, there will be more opportunities for other players to support the growing MMJ market, the developing cultivation industry, and the looming recreational market if legalization occurs.
Second, Germany is the biggest power in the EU, and as such, the country serves as a gateway to other countries in the EU looking to get into the medical marijuana market.
Cannabis Compliance’s VP of government relations Deepak Anand is based in Vancouver and says that financial experts have been salivating over the Canada market, but that the German market is even bigger and offers even more profit opportunities than even the Canadian market. Anand says it is inevitable that Germany will soon overtake Canada to become the leading world market for medical marijuana.