Germany legalized medical marijuana in 2017, but the country has yet to kickstart their local cannabis industry. With the largest economy in the European Union, Germany’s failure to launch even one licensed producer is seemingly out of character. The country continues to rely on imports from Canada and The Netherlands, which means many Canadian cannabis producers are cashing in on Germany’s losses.
The country’s delay is due in part to the Federal Institute of Drugs and Medical Devices, which kicked things off by first postponing initial production to study the cultivation processes of other legalized nations. But to delay things further, the country pushed back their application deadline again, moving it from October to December of 2018. Now, local German newspapers report that the Institute will not be awarding any licenses until the second quarter of 2019.
Investors with their eye on the European market should not expect any cannabis from Germany until 2020. It's good news for Canadian producers who have a solid chance of situating themselves in a medical marijuana market that could potentially be worth more than $5 billion a year.
Here’s a look at the top three pot stocks to cash in on Germany’s cannabis shortage.
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Amid all the negative news surrounding Aphria (TSX:APH) (NYSE:APH), the pot stock still managed to acquire a foothold in the German market. In November, Aphria announced their acquisition of CC Pharma, one of the largest medical distributors in Germany. Aphria previously made a supply agreement with CC Pharma, but with the acquisition set to close this month, the new combined company will be creating a department dedicated solely to the production of cannabis in Germany.
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Aphria intends to build an indoor grow facility in Neumunster as well as a state-of-the-art cannabis storage facility in Bad Bramstedt. Without any current local production, this move will guarantee consistent delivery to German patients through Aphria’s channels, giving the pot stock a dominant position in the European market.
Canopy Growth Corp.
Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX.WEED) (NGSE.CGC) is one pot stock focused on the bigger European picture. Last summer, Canopy put themselves right in the heart of Germany by establishing their Spectrum Cannabis subsidiary in Frankfurt. The company will be using this move as a jumping off point, as their goal is to expand with markets in Denmark, Spain, and the Czech Republic.
“Creating a single core unit will consolidate our leading position in Europe, and a Europe-wide structure better reflects how we operate globally. As a global player, we focus not on exporting from Canada but on investment on the ground,” Canopy CEO Mark Zekulin clarified in an August press release.
Investments on the ground include their latest acquisition of Storz & Bickel, a German vaporizer company with over 22 years of experience designing and manufacturing vapes for fifty markets around the world. The company has their ISO 13485 certification, which approves their products for medical use. It puts Canopy in a unique position. Acquiring a recognized German brand in an evolving medical market will position Canopy to cash in on more than just growing flower.
Beleave (CSE: BE) (OTCQX: BLEVF) made their first moves into the German market in October when they announced their supply agreement with Canymed. Canymed will be importing 5,000 kilograms per year from Beleave at nearly $8 per gram, a price point that is two times more than current Canadian prices but justified by the high demand of Germany’s medical marijuana market. Without local cultivation, Canadian producers have the opportunity to sell high and make a serious profit, a key point Beleave did not overlook. According to the press release, this investment is the first of many in the company’s broad European strategy.
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“[Germany’s] growth continues to outpace other jurisdictions with similar regulations and was a natural target as we expand our distribution channel into Europe," said Beleave CEO Andrew Wnek.
Beleave may not have the clout or the market cap of the bigger players like Canopy or Aphria, but their first mover advantage could be all they need to get a headstart in the European market. Using Germany as a starter will establish the foundation necessary for expansion, but only if the country can stick to their deadlines. Canymed is awaiting licensing approval, which they expect to come this month. Once licensed, Canymed can distribute Beleave’s brand of cannabis to hospitals, pharmacies, and local medical practices throughout the country.