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European Cannabis News Roundup

November 2017

Image Courtesy of Bill Griffin

When it comes to cannabis, there is never a dull news cycle in the rich cultural tapestry that makes up Europe. Here’s a selection of European cannabis stories that broke in November.

Dutch seed companies forging global partnerships

Two of the Netherland’s most successful seed companies announced partnerships with companies beyond European borders this month.

Green House Brands – whose roster includes Greenhouse Seeds Co. and Strain Hunters brands – partnered with two equally heavyweight cannabis companies – Canadian Canopy Growth and Colorado-based Organa brands.

The joint venture will see all three companies owning part of Canopy Growth’s huge indoor grow facility – Agripharm – in Creemore, Ontario. In return, Canopy Growth will have the option to purchase all cannabis products produced by Agripharm for distribution in Canada giving Green House and Organa a significant Canadian presence.

Also announced in November, Barnies Farm – who run a successful seed company and multiple coffeeshops in Amsterdam – has invested $2.1 million (€1.8 million) in the Tel Aviv-listed, Israel-based medical cannabis outfit Medivie Therapeutic Ltd. This is a licensing deal in exchange for shares with Medivie being able to use Barnies Farm branding on its future products.

Medivie has partnered with an unnamed Israeli Kibbutz to grow medical cannabis in the north of Israel. Dozens of Israel’s Kibbutzim are now attempting to become medical cannabis growers, seeking to benefit from the fast growing global market.

Malta to improve access to medical cannabis

Maltese Prime Minister announced that the cabinet has agreed on new legislation to improve access to medicinal cannabis.

This followed calls from cannabis law reform groups and MPs saying patients are forced onto the black market as there are no legal ways for them to get cannabis as a medicine despite it being legalised for medicinal use since 2015.

Poland allows pharmacies to distribute imported cannabis

Legislation came into effect that will allow Polish pharmacies to distribute and prepare medicines from imported cannabis.

“It is estimated that up to 300,000 patients could qualify for medical marijuana treatment,” said a spokesperson for the Polish Pharmaceutical Chamber. Poland has 15,000 pharmacies, and 90% of them are authorised to make prescription drugs.

Greece is digging cannabis

Greece’s ideal cannabis growing climate has recently had a resurgence of growing industrial hemp for flour, fibres and CBD. It’s also expected that legislation for medical cannabis will be passed by the end of the year.

Bloomberg reports that more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.74 billion) has been injected into projects to build facilities for the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis in Greece. It’s expected this investment will give Greece a significant share of the global cannabis market, worth up to $240 billion within the next ten years. This will be a boost to the Greek economy as it struggles with economic recovery after a third bailout.

“Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is counting on investment to spur economic recovery and allow the country to exit a third bailout program. Forecasts call for growth close to 2 percent this year, rising to 2.5 percent in 2018.

A single campus of 12 to 15 cannabis greenhouses could create 400 jobs, according to a task force preparing a draft bill to legalize medical cannabis in Greece. Unemployment in the country has been over 20 percent since November 2011, one of the highest levels in the European Union.”

Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Yiannis Tsironis, even went as far as to say that cannabis should be cultivated legally – “even on someone’s balcony”. But, as of now, there are no bills prepared for recreational use.

It’s a refreshing sign that politicians are openly speaking out on what was once a strictly taboo topic. Indeed, a Greek friend was telling me that the younger generation are very open to the concept of legal cannabis for medicinal and recreational use. Every day, more of the youth join the voting population.

High Times returns to Amsterdam

After a hiatus lasting several years, High Times returned to Amsterdam to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its famous Cannabis Cup.

After cannabis was legalised in multiple states in the US – and suffering harassment from Dutch authorities – High Times decided to take a break and focus on its home turf. Now it’s back and further events are planned in Jamaica and Spain in the coming months.

This will make High Times one of the leading cannabis trade show organisations on the planet.

The UK goes to pot (unfortunately, not the green variety)

Meanwhile, the UK seems to be all over the place when it comes to cannabis.

November started well enough, with Release, a UK charity on the front line of drug policy, celebrating it’s 50th anniversary in the form of a pop-up museum on drug policy.

Over the past few decades, Release has had some prominent supporters, such as Richard Branson, David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney.

Fifty years later and the establishment is still signalling it intends to continue its failed prohibitionist policies, with Prime Minister Theresa May calling for a continued “War against Drugs”, despite the government’s own research indicating its failure.

On prime time British TV, popular soap stars and sports celebrities get high in “Gone to Pot: An American Road Trip”– a sure sign that the general population is getting interested in the topic.

Maybe a little too interested, as the Liverpool Echo tells you what to do if you smell neighbours smoking weed.

They encourage readers to rat on their neighbours via an anonymous tip-off service called “Crimestoppers”. I can just picture the old dears sipping tea whilst watching their favourite soap stars getting high, then calling Crimstoppers to report their neighbours for doing exactly the same thing.

Talk about mixed signals.

The Dutch love a good social experiment

The Dutch, who have been tinkering with their cannabis coffeeshop experiment for quite some time, are taking things a step further.

Their new coalition government plans to allow local authorities to regulate small-scale production in an attempt to take criminal gangs out of the cannabis supply chain.

Councils have already begun drafting their own proposals on how they want to organise the supply chain, and it seems there will be a variety of locations and approaches for them to study.

Italian Rastas are happy, but European Hindus are not

An Italian court acquitted a Rastafarian man found with 58 grams of cannabis in his possession because he was using the ‘sacred herb’ to meditate.

The man had a “meditation room” at home, where he listened to Rasta music on a record player whilst smoking weed.

I have one of those too. Last I checked, it’s called a “living room”.

Rastafarianism teaches that the cannabis plant has holy powers, and they use it during meditation sessions to enhance a sense of unity and spirituality.

But it’s not all good news for religious groups when it comes to cannabis in Europe. Hindus are not happy about the increased use of images of Lord Ganesha and other Hindu deities on smoking paraphernalia, and are urging the European Commission to do something about it.

I cannot think why anyone would put such a serious image as a psychedelic pink elephant with a human body and four arms sitting on a baby pink lily pad on a bong. It’s totally inappropriate.

Thanks to Encod and VOC for finding many of these gems.