European Cannabis Weekly Roundup

Italy

On Thursday 30th May, Italy’s Supreme Court outlawed the so-called ‘cannabis light’, as according to the Court, the law forbids the sale of products ‘derived from the cultivation of cannabis’. Such products currently on sale include oil, leaves, inflorescences and resin – consequently, now, all of these must be removed from shelves.

London-based Prohibition Partners have defined the move as “a bitter blow to Italy’s burgeoning ‘cannabis light’ industry”, which comes under “a right-wing government push that may derail the country’s attempt to re-establish itself as a global hemp superpower.”

Previously, retailers have been exploiting a legal grey area which allowed them to sell flowers as ‘collector’s items’, provided that they were not labelled for human consumption. In 2018, more than 300 CBD stores opened in Italy, and the economic turnover reached 6.5 million euros.

In theory, the ruling means that police could begin seizing cannabis sativa derivatives and charge the shops selling them. The application of the law remains unclear, however, since there has been no formal change in legislation yet. As most shops sell a range of products not listed by the judges, there’s nothing to stop them continue to sell their other merchandise – so long as it’s profitable enough.

Nevertheless, cannabis for medical purposes is not touched by these recent developments and although it is unlikely that this will affect other countries, if it does, it will be in countries where sceptical opinion is already widespread.

Israel

iCAN: Israel-Cannabis has announced investments beyond Europe, namely in America, and Africa. iCAN incubator is committed to accelerating Israel’s cannabis market growth, with special attention to technological developments.

In the United States, iCAN has invested in Vanguard Scientific, an Oregon based botanical and equipment provider of end-to-end solutions for integrated botanical extraction and equipment services. Currently Vanguard Scientific is waiting to acquire EU-GMP validation, which would allow sales within the European Common Market, counting about 500 million people.

iCAN’s newest investment is Southern Sun Pharma, a cannabis company working throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. This investment represents a strategic move as Africa’s potential market for cannabis products is virtually immense.

 South Africa legalised the medical usage of cannabis in 2017 and, consequently, following a ruling by the South African Supreme Court, also recreational use. By 2023, the South African cannabis market is expected to be worth R 27 billion (1.5 billion in GBP).

European Drug Report June 2019

The EMCDDA, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, has recently released its 2019 Report.

The Report revealed that cannabis is the most used drug in the EU, with almost 25 million users in the last year and about 91 million who have made use of cannabis at least once in their lifetime. Surveys include adults between 15 and 64 years old.

Figures also show that 72% of illicit-drug seizures in 2017 consist of cannabis products, respectively 42% herbal cannabis, 28% cannabis resins, and 2% cannabis plants.

EMCDDA’s report acknowledges that “internationally and within Europe, cannabis use continues to be a topic that is generating significant policy and public interest, as new developments are triggering debate on how society should respond to this substance.”

United Kingdom

An unlikely, or rather unexpected, endorsement to medical cannabis has arrived from the Church of England.  On June 9th, the Financial Times reported that the Church of England’s investment arm will relax its previous policy which excluded companies profiting from cannabis to receive investments from CofE’s sources.

The Church’s investment portfolio amounts to £12.6 billion. As yet, the Church has not invested in companies specialising in the cannabis sector; however, Edward Mason, the head of responsible investment at the Church Commissioners, stressed that a distinction must be made between recreational and medicinal cannabis.

“We are content with it being used for proper medicinal purposes”, Mason declared. And, as regards medicinal marijuana, the Church will hold it to the same standards it holds for other pharmaceutical companies.

Nevertheless, as it seems, the Church will still not invest in companies which earn more than 10% of their revenue from recreational cannabis. This is a standard threshold for the Church, as 10% is the limit it uses for its other ethical exclusions, such as tobacco or gambling.

Besides, this opening on the Church’s side may represent an important step towards considering cannabis and its potentially beneficial usages without prejudices, especially among Christians and traditionally-minded people.

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