Cannabis Europa swept into New York City with some dazzle as the conference was held at a swanky members-only club that prefers not to be mentioned. Stephen Murphy, Co-Founder of Cannabis Europa said that the reason for choosing such a high location was to showcase the legitimacy of the industry.
Murphy is also the Co-Founder & CEO of NOBL Group and a Co-Founder of Prohibition Partners, a source of intelligence and insights into the European cannabis industry. The attendees seemed to be a mix of Europeans keen to get the attention of the U.S. financiers and Americans wanting to learn more about the European cannabis markets. So much has been made of Canadian companies signing contracts overseas, that many wanted to hear first-hand what the landscape really looks like.
The reality is that the market is almost entirely medical marijuana and if the Americans thought that cannabis was complicated amongst the states, they should hear the differences among neighboring countries and then add a layer of EU on top. This is a steep learning curve on education as well. Some panel members noted that many in the EU believe CBD (cannabidiol) will get them high and that educating the public will be critical to any success overseas.
Cannabis stock trading is almost non-existent. Typically, the exchanges in Europe will act in accordance with each other, but the Luxembourg stock market acted on its own to allow cannabis companies to trade there and for now, no other exchanges are interested. One panelist said that tots of institutions were considering it and that could open up next year.
“There are legal teams in London preparing companies for IPO’s,” said Murphy, “But there are limitations for what they can deploy in the U.S. and Canada.” He agreed that the junior exchanges were beginning to recognize quality cannabis companies. At the same time, the European companies have their sites set on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) and NASDAQ.
Murphy said that the focus remains on medical marijuana and getting access to the product for those that need it the most. He noted that Germany is the furthest along with regards to countries legalizing cannabis. Similar to the U.S., Murphy said that countries see cannabis as a way to help the economy by bringing jobs, reenergizing agriculture and helping depressed areas. The issue remains education as both residents and politicians have much more to learn.
“The European media is becoming more receptive and recognizing this as a legitimate industry,” said Murphy. Having the European media on the side of legalization has been a goal for the industry
William Muecke, a Co-founder of Artemis Growth Partners said, “It’s a tough market, but the quality companies rise to the top. The question will be pricing. Plus, there is so much time spent on educating the marketplace.”
That difficult sentiment was echoed by Jordan Lewis, CEO of Fotmer Life Sciences who said, “In the UK you can get a script filled for up to 3 months, but it’s hard to find doctors willing to write prescriptions and then find the product. We had to fly to the Netherlands to buy medical products and fly them back.”
European cannabis companies complained about the restrictions around the descriptions of their products and how they try to use influencer marketing since they can’t say much and even relying on testimonials can be difficult.
Murphy wants to foster more trans-American relationships. There may be a lot of promise in the European cannabis market, but it also sounds like the hurdles are numerous.