Cannabis Europa Returns to London

This June 24th and 25th, 2019 we were very proud to bring Cannabis Europa back to London for the second time. 

Fittingly hosted in the Southbank Centre, once ranked as ‘the ugliest building in Britain’ by a 1960’s Daily Mail poll, and now hailed as an iconic example of brutalist architecture, the conference is prompting reform and changing minds, not just amongst the British media and public, but across the European continent. 

Over the two day conference, which took place as part of the first European Cannabis Week, inspiring moments, dynamic debates, and expert interrogation of the issues offered attendees true insight into this developing and sometimes mercurial space. 

As our CEO George McBride and co-founder of Cannabis Europa said in opening the conference,

“[We] want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has come along and shown an interest in this sector, shown an interest in this plant. And to those helping push things along so that we can provide access to medicines for everyone who needs it, build an industry that’s spread around the globe and provide jobs for everyone in this room, and hopefully have some fun along the way.”

Despite the European moniker, the event saw an international range of attendance, with delegates from every continent (barr Antarctica). In a year, the interest has swiftly grown from its original core of Canadian LPs and small European startups. European companies are growing in sophistication, North American companies of all sizes were present, and Latin American and Australian parties has noticeably grown. Representatives from financial and legal firms looking to learn more about this growing market were also abundant. The attendance was mirrored by the many international partners and world-class speakers making up the two-day programme.  

We saw particular interest in cannabis cultivation, both for medical uses and for cultivation of hemp, which is already widely cultivated across Europe, with about a quarter of world production coming from France. As well as being a source for ever-increasingly popular CBD, innovative European companies are finding new uses for it every day, like Margent Farm, whose founder Steve Barron detailed the many new ways they are using it to create bioplastics and use the plant for construction of environmentally friendly buildings. 

While Cannabis Europa is just over one year old, there was a tangible sense of optimism about the progression of European cannabis policy reform. People and organisations at every level and in every aspect of the space looking to see how they will best fit into developing European supply chains. Vitally, representatives from every aspect of the cannabis space that we brought together-- politicians, advocates, scientists, carers, and businesses-- were discussing the fact that this opportunity is unprecedented, not only in economic terms, but in that the rules, standards and policies are being written as we speak. Transparency, inclusivity, sustainability and responsibility were just some of the key aspects speakers like Kim Wilson of the Global Cannabis Partnership touched upon.  

The enthusiasm and desire to learn and share was undeniable. Despite the juvenescence of the medical market in many countries on the continent, attendees were beginning to examine the potential for recreational cannabis. While medical access will no doubt be prioritised in Europe, international reform and public opinion polls increasingly show how the perception of cannabis is rapidly transforming. Across the Atlantic, for example, nearly every major Democrat running for President in the United States has come out in support of legalising cannabis at the federal level, the exception being Joe Biden. However, there is no consensus on what the true size or progression of the European market will be in the next five years-- while many are bullish and looking towards recreational, Alfredo Pascual, who brought up a key point-- in the UK there are currently more cannabis companies than cannabis patients with legal access to medicine.

Hanway Associates is here to advise on the pitfalls to avoid, regulatory issues and idiosyncracies of the developing European market. For more information, contact us at info@hanwayassociates.com.