According to a recent Prohibition Partners report, German cannabinoid sales reached record levels in Q1 2020, signaling a shift in consumer preference for cannabis-based medications in place of synthetic pharmaceutical medications. In March, sales climbed to €15M, approximately 50% more when compared to sales in March 2019, which grossed €9.5M in total profits for insurance-covered sales.
Much like the U.S. government, Germany currently classifies cannabis as a narcotic, effectively making recreational consumption illegal. That said, possession penalties vary from state to state within the German Federal Republic. Enforcement is uneven to say the least. Although recreational cannabis is largely banned, medical cannabis consumption was approved by the German government in 2017 and has blossomed ever since.
The move to legalize cannabis on a medicinal level has been widely popular with German consumers, over 60,000 patients have had cannabis prescriptions filled since 2017. Cannabis flower accounts for roughly 50% of total profits, but that share has begun to decline due to increased interest in cannabis-based pharmaceutical products and extracts. In 2020, flower sales grossed €7.6M while extracts and pharmaceuticals lagged slightly behind at €7.2M in total sales. The report attributes flower’s decline to consumer preference for oils and capsules because of their familiarity as medical treatments. Plus, flower has become increasingly associated with high up-front costs for vaporizers and exorbitant pharmacy fees.
A consequence of increasing cannabis sales is the sharp decline in imported synthetic drugs like Canemes and Marinol, which have steadily lost their market share with plant-based treatments filling the gap. Keeping that in mind, cannabis has yet to fully tighten its grip on German medical markets. One drug known Sativex has continued to profit alongside cannabis with a roughly 40% increase in sales between April 2019 and March 2020.
It remains unknown as to whether pharmaceuticals will increasingly be swept by the wayside for plant-based treatments in Germany. Regardless, the data is far from negative and bodes well for the future of the industry.
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