The State of Cannabis Legislation in Europe

3 minute read

The value of the European cannabis market is expected to reach €37 billion by 2027, according to Research and Markets. This reflects a projected CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 29.6% between 2020 and 2027. Such vigorous growth is being attributed to anticipated updates to medical cannabis regulations and the growth of the European cannabis industry as a whole.

Cannabis and Its Uses

The 3 main components for which cannabis is used  are:

-  THC(tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the psychoactive compound,

-  CBD(cannabidiol), which is employed for therapeutic and medicinal therapies, and

-  Terpenes are the oils that create aroma and enhance flavor.

Overall, the term cannabis is used to describe the plant category that includes marijuana, above 0.3% THC, and hemp below 0.3% THC.


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The State of Cannabis Legislation in Europe

As the body of research on the health benefits of cannabis continues to grow, Europeans are becoming increasingly receptive to using cannabis products, driving the market for both medical and recreational use. Additionally, gains have been recently made in cannabis legislation to support market growth. A European Court of Justice ruling in November 2020 stated that CBD is not to be considered a narcotic substance under EU law. In December 2020 the UN recognized the medical potential of cannabis and removed it from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (CND), where it was listed alongside dangerous addictive opioids such as heroin.


While more and more European countries are legalizing cannabis for medical use, including the UK, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, possession of cannabis for recreational use is still illegal in all EU member states. The cannabis market is, however, gaining momentum as regulations are loosening. In fact, in many countries possession of a small amount of recreational cannabis will lead to minor prosecution or no prosecution at all.


It is predicted that European countries will begin to legalize non-medical adult use of cannabis by 2025, including Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Another cannabis market where growth is expected is the UK, which is the top market for CBD alongside Germany. While CBD is legal to use, buy and sell in Germany, Europe’s largest market, when it comes to recreational cannabis use, a bill to legalize marijuana was rejected in October 2020. However, Germany is still a market to watch, as things could change following the upcoming federal elections in September 2021. Another market to watch is Poland, whose hemp cultivation acreage almost doubled in 2019. They have also developed a reputation as a primary EU hub for processing CBD.


The Cannabis Market and Covid-19

While the global pandemic has presented great challenges to economies and individuals across Europe, some say that cannabis may have the ability to help both. Countries searching for new revenue streams can tax cannabis product sales. For individuals, the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis have been cited as beneficial to Covid-19 patients. Additionally, the potential of cannabis to relieve pain and anxiety can benefit those with the disease, as well as those suffering the effects of pandemic lockdowns and social isolation.          


Medical and recreational cannabis use has increased since the Covid-19 outbreak. In the short term, the pandemic could be hindering lawmakers, leading to delays in legalization. In the long term, it may be the tipping point that drives robust growth in the European cannabis market.  


Meeting Market Demand with Intelligent LEDs

When it comes to growing cannabis, commercial cultivators know the importance of lighting. The incorrect light levels in a grow facility can cause a multitude of problems, including slow photosynthesis, poor CO2 exchange, and reduced nutrient uptake. You can learn more about this in our Grower-to-Grower Guide to Cannabis Lighting. LED lighting and intelligent controls can provide the optimal amount of light to grow high-quality crops consistently. At the same time, they can make operations more sustainable and energy-efficient. The light quality and spectral composition can also have a huge impact on different strains, allowing growers to manipulate THC and CBD levels.


In fact, one of our customers, Experience Organics (EXO), achieved a 50% reduction in energy costs while producing superior quality flowers. Heliospectra’s control system and the WIFI connectivity of each ELIXIA grow light enabled EXO to adjust lighting protocols as needed from anywhere. The result was a reduction in flowering time on most of their strains while producing the high-quality flower their market demands. Andrew Sigler, their Director of Operations, commented, “The ability to fine-tune these lights for each phase of growth has transformed every stage of our cannabis cultivation. We are consistently producing high-quality products, while significantly reducing our energy needs.”


Want to know more about growing cannabis with intelligent LED lighting and controls? Let’s talk. Or, if you’re looking for cultivation advice, reach out to our cannabis liaison, Ryan Wankle , a second-generation cannabis grower.