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If Legalized, Germany’s Recreational Cannabis Market Could Be Worth €8.5 Billion by 2028, Experts Predict

By Alexander Beadle

Published: Oct 18, 2019   
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If legalized, the German recreational cannabis market could be worth 8.5 billion ($9.39 billion USD) by 2028, according to a new report.

Published by the data and intelligence firm Prohibition Partners, the Germany Cannabis Report also estimates that the country’s existing medical cannabis sector could be worth 7.7 billion ($8.5 billion USD) by the same year.  


An overview of cannabis in Germany

The cannabis market in Germany is of particular interest to analysts as the country boasts the largest economy in Europe, making it an important frontier for any emerging industry.

Germany’s cannabis laws are also slowly becoming less prohibitive; the synthetic cannabinoids nabilone and dronabinol were legalized in 1983 and ’98, respectively. In 2017, the country fully legalized medical cannabis, and now imports over 2,800 kilos of medical marijuana annually to meet the needs of the estimated 60,000 German cannabis patients.

This year, Germany’s Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte, BfArM), issued its first licenses for domestic cannabis production to end Germany’s over-reliance on cannabis imports from the Netherlands and Canada.


Medical cannabis in Germany

Germany also brought in rules which require the country’s public health insurers (which provide cover for about 90 percent of German residents) to pay for medical cannabis treatments for patients. This helped make cannabis treatments a financially viable option for the majority of patients, as without insurance, medical cannabis treatments can cost up to €2,400 per month.

However, the report also notes that prospective medical cannabis patients in Germany are struggling to  obtain a medical cannabis prescription, in a similar manner to what is being seen in the United Kingdom.

Theoretically, all a German patient should need to do to obtain a cannabis prescription is display a serious medical condition that scientific studies suggest can be treated with cannabis, and one that hasn’t responded well to other avenues of treatment. But, like in the UK, many physicians in Germany feel uncomfortable with issuing medical cannabis prescriptions because of the stigma surrounding the drug, and the potential legal liability if the patient has an adverse reaction to cannabis.

Still, despite this reluctance, Prohibition Partners estimates that the German medicinal cannabis market was already worth over €73.7 million in 2018 and serves an estimated 60,000 medical cannabis patients (no official data exists regarding patient numbers).


Future predictions for the German markets

The Prohibition Partners analysts are predicting huge growth in the future of German cannabis. By 2024, they say, the number of medical cannabis patients in the country will exceed one million, and by 2028, the medical cannabis market value will have grown to be worth 7.7 billion, up from 73.7 million in 2018.

The analysts have also made several speculations about the potential for a German recreational cannabis market.

At present, possession of cannabis for recreational use in Germany is illegal. However, depending on the German region, possession of amounts up to 6-15 grams may be tolerated. Additionally, public prosecutors have the option to refrain from taking possession charges to court if they consider there to be “no public interest” in prosecuting the offender, and the charges only concern a small amount of cannabis for the offender’s own use.

The second-largest political party in Germany, the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), openly supports the legalization of recreational cannabis. The report also notes the presence of a “well-established advocacy community” in the country, such as the German Hemp Association. The Association of German Criminal Officers has also spoken out in favor of ending cannabis prohibition and has called for widespread decriminalization measures.

If Germany were to follow these calls and legalize the drug, Prohibition Partners analysts predict the recreational market could be worth an estimated 8.5 billion.

“The German market has no doubt grown at a rate that is unprecedented in Europe, which sent shockwaves throughout other European states,” wrote Prohibition Partners managing director Daragh Anglim in the report.

“In fact, many analysts and industry experts predicted that regional neighbors were likely to follow in their footsteps, experiencing similar levels of growth. Major change has followed across the continent but Germany remains one of the most open, promising and exciting markets in the region.”

“The development of the German industry is not without its pitfalls. Patients still face hurdles in accessing cannabis -products and companies are still vying to supply the market,” Anglim continued, but added that, “Germany is emerging as a regional industry leader as investors and operators compete for a foothold in the burgeoning European market.”

The full report is available to view via the Prohibition Partners website. The exact methodology on which the future projections are based is not detailed in the report. 

Alexander Beadle

Science Writer

Alexander Beadle has been working as a freelance science writer since 2017 and has covered the cannabis industry for Analytical Cannabis since 2018. He has also written for our sister publication, Technology Networks, and the cannabis industry consultant firm Prohibition Partners, among others. Alexander holds a Master's in Materials Chemistry from the University of St. Andrews, where he won a Chemistry Purdie scholarship, and conducted research into zeolite crystal growth mechanisms and the action of single-molecule transistors.


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