It’s a never-ending debate, but cannabis remains illegal in much of Europe. The trend seems to be towards decriminalisation in some of Europe, and outright legality in much of North America.
The UK still deems cannabis as illegal to grow, possess, or distribute. Punishment ranges from mild to nonexistent for small quantities of possession, so it seems the sellers face the largest deterrent.
Those who enjoy cannabis often take trips to the Netherlands to enjoy a coffee shop Amsterdam, where it’s totally legal to buy and smoke weed inside the establishment – something that the country has yielded many benefits from.
Furthermore, Portugal made almost all drugs decriminalised, deeming it an addiction that must be treated through rehabilitation, not through retribution, deterrent, or punishment. Portugal has shown that decriminalisation leads to a reduction in drug consumption, safer communities, and reduced recidivism.
However, conservative attitudes may be changing in Europe. Besides a few exceptions (i.e. Slovenia), CBD is freely sold around Europe. Whilst it contains insignificant amounts of psychoactive substance (THC), it wasn’t always legal – this push has come about in only the past decade. Many see it as the first step towards decriminalisation of cannabis.
In fact, CBD oil has become normalised within even the older generation – those who are usually in favour of strict drug laws. Many elders in the UK, for example, enjoy the benefits of CBD oil on relieving inflammation, arthritis, and chronic pain – which eventually, it may be understood that cannabis yields those same benefits.
CBD oil very much benefits from being detached from the cannabis image, even if it is a derivation. Not only does CBD avoid saying the word itself, but consuming an oil, jelly bean, or face mask feels a lot different to smoking cannabis. This helped CBD become normalised, but we could see cannabis eventually go the same way with edibles, vape oil, and other consumables.
Europe’s cannabis market accounts for 35% of the world’s total, proving that this is a plant in high demand just like North America. Hemp crops are highly popular in the Netherlands, France, Lithuania, and Romania. Of course, there are other uses for this hemp too, such as sustainable clothing, cosmetics, oils, soaps, and many other products.
Whilst we cannot be sure if or when cannabis will become decriminalized across Europe, but what we do know is the infrastructure is in place to meet demand – legal crops are vast and are already operational.
The European cannabis market is growing exponentially, and many investors are catching wind of it. Finally, that insatiable appetite for the product is being legally fulfilled, albeit through CBD and other non-psychoactive products. However, what we do know is that the larger and industry is, the more lobby power its participants hold – and the more taxation that can be profited off it by the government.
For this reason, as we see Europe’s cannabis market explode, decriminalisation becomes all the more likely across the board. France is claimed to be on the verge of a de-stigmatising breakthrough, as are Germany becoming increasingly attuned to the idea of legalisation. The UK, perhaps, seems further away from policy change than most.