Cannabis: 5 key markets most promising

  • Germany and the UK offer the most immediate and sizeable opportunities.

  • Italy offers ad hoc opportunities.

  • France and Spain should be monitored for developments and future opportunities.

Medical cannabis use is legal in most European countries

Euromonitor International 2022

Source: Euromonitor International, 2022

It’s heavily regulated

Medical cannabis is heavily regulated, due to it being a prescription medicine for certain health issues. Regulations and laws differ from country to country.

CBD use

CBD is sold in most countries but sits in a bit of a legal grey area. CBD can also be considered a food supplement, so some countries have other regulations that may apply.

France is an outlier

Medical cannabis use is illegal in France but some CBD products with THC under 0.2% are legal.

As Europe’s largest hemp producer, France is in a strong position to produce medical cannabis if it is legalised. This is expected to happen around 2025.

Recreational use remains illegal in most European markets

Recreational cannabis is not currently an export opportunity for New Zealand businesses due to international treaties.

Germany is expected to be the first European nation to legalise recreational use, in 2024. It’s likely other countries will follow suit, namely the Czech Republic, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Key market dynamics

High demand 

While European markets get their supply mostly or entirely from domestic production, demand in some markets is growing faster than domestic supply.

There are just 3 companies in Germany that can cultivate cannabis legally. Other product is imported.

While the UK is recognised as one of the major global producers of cannabis-based medicines, the majority of products used domestically are imported.

In Italy, the military is responsible for the domestic production of cannabis. It issues contract notices/tenders that are open to exporters.

Rapid growth in Germany, UK, Italy, Spain and France

All 5 markets had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25% or greater between 2019 and 2022. Germany was over 50%.

The UK market was worth over €1 billion in 2022, followed by Germany at €870 million.

Source: Euromonitor International, 2022

Category share

CBD makes up the bulk of total market sales in Spain, France, Italy and the UK. CBD is at least a €100 million market in these countries.

The UK’s CBD market is worth the most, at €951 million, while Germany follows at €385 million.

In Germany, medical cannabis accounted for 56% of sales, worth €485 million. It’s followed by the UK, at €89 million.


Medical cannabis is distributed exclusively through pharmacies in Spain, Italy and Germany, and through cannabis dispensaries in the UK.


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