Cannabis-Europe-Competitive -Landscape

Competitive Landscape

Updated December 1, 2020

Cannabis regulators in Europe are beginning to turn their sights inward, encouraging more domestic and European operations. For example, several of the region’s countries are undertaking efforts to increase their domestic supply of medical cannabis to meet growing patient demand and decrease reliance on imports:

  • Germany granted licenses to three companies (Aphria, Aurora, and Demecan) to cultivate inside the country, and domestic products are likely to begin supplanting and supplementing imports in 2021.
  • In Switzerland, the upcoming adult-use pilot program will be supplied exclusively with Swiss-grown organic cannabis.
  • Portugal is ramping up cultivation and production to not only supply its new market, but also become an export hub for other European countries.

In many cases, preparation of final products must be conducted by local pharmacies or approved (typically European) pharmaceutical companies rather than larger cannabis manufacturing operations as is typically seen in the US and Canada. Thus, the landscape does not offer as many opportunities to non-pharmaceutical competitors as might be seen elsewhere.

Despite that, several large international cannabis players – including a number of top Canadian Licensed Producers (LPs) – have already established operations and partnerships in Europe, and many aim to continue conducting business there within the new frameworks established. Some examples include:

  • UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals, whose cannabis-derived prescription medication Sativex (Nabiximols) was the first product permitted on a number of European markets and continues to have wide reach in the region, and whose finished pharmaceutical Epidyolex is quickly gaining ground as well.

  • Dutch company Bedrocan, Europe’s largest producer of medical cannabis, which has had a monopoly on producing medical cannabis in the Netherlands and is a major exporter to the rest of the region.

  • Canada’s Aurora Cannabis, which supplies medical cannabis to a number of key European markets (eg Germany, Denmark, UK, Poland), and is working to increase the number of EU-GMP certified locations where it grows and markets where it operates in order to scale its export capabilities and sales within the continent.

  • Canadian Canopy Growth Corporation, whose subsidiary Spectrum Therapeutics has been a first-mover in markets such as Germany and Luxembourg, and has made solid in-roads across the region.

  • Aphria, another major Canadian licensed cannabis producer, which is using its operations and relationships in Germany as its launching pad for access to the European market.

  • Canadian companies Cronos Group and Tilray have both established distribution agreements in Germany, and Tilray has set up cultivation operations in Portugal.

Notably, Europe’s new inward focus will ultimately be advantageous for local companies (with local access, knowledge, compliance testing) and may start deterring larger international competitors in a way it has not done in the past. As budget-stretched international players trim and refocus their spending, with burgeoning foreign operations at times first on the chopping block, the competitive landscape is becoming more inviting for European players.

Click on the company names below to explore some of the major players in Europe's cannabis market.

Cannabis Company Profiles

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