European Cannabis Market

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Legal Cannabis in Europe


In 2015, a report from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), stated that drug use, when not injuring others, should not be illegal in the EU. While there are 37 million people in Canada and 327 million in the United States, the European Union is home to almost 743 million.

In 2018, six new countries have announced medical legalisation, the number of patients increased by 40% month on month and more than 500 million euro has been invested in the European cannabis industry. Some form of medical cannabis (or cannabis-based medicine) is now legal in 22 countries in the region, with a further 12 countries decriminalising the recreational use of personal amounts of cannabis. In 2018-2019, the European cannabis market experienced greater growth than in the previous six years, according to the “European Cannabis Report” released by Prohibition Partners.

Italy legalized medical cannabis in 2013, before many of Europe’s other legal cannabis countries.

Germany positioned itself as Europe’s market leader by liberalizing its medical program in 2017.

Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Finland and Poland are also named as launching similar programs, as well as the Spanish region of Catalonia “moved past tolerance and embers of designated clubs.” In January 2018, Malta legalized cannabis, allowing the production for medical use. A bill legalizing medical cannabis was unanimously passed by the government of Luxembourg in July 2018.

In 2019, Cyprus legalised the cultivation and domestic use for medical use, Ireland legalised medical cannabis as part of a five-year pilot programme, while France and Ireland introduced medical cannabis access pilot schemes, and UK launched Europe’s first private patient registry (Project Twenty21).

Though there has been progress regarding recreational cannabis, such as cannabis social clubs (legal in Belgium, Spain, Netherlands and Slovenia) and sporadic decriminalisation, it is not a priority of European legislators to legalise recreational use. Though they do estimate that recreational cannabis will also be legalised in the not so distant future. In 2021, Luxembourg may become the first EU country to legalize adu;t-use recreational cannabis.

In February 2019, the European Parliament asked the European Commission to harmonize the regulatory and legal framework regarding cannabis products in the EU.

As of February 2020, there were 17 active clinical trials, investigating the efficacy of cannabis and cannabinoid medications against diseases, in Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom.


In the five edition of the European Cannabis Report – produced by London-based advisory group Prohibition Partners – Europe’s cannabis market is estimated to be worth up to €2.4b by 2024:

  • Potential medical cannabis market will hit 2.25 billion euros
  • Potential recreational market value will reach 0.15 billion euros

The market forecast expects to see a slow start over the review period with recreational cannabis only expected to come to the fore in 2022 following legalisation in Luxembourg.

New Frontier Data estimates the total value of cannabis demand in Europe is $42.9 billion.



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