The Importance Of A Medical Cannabis Market As Recreational Markets Expand


As some European countries sit on the edge of adult-use cannabis legalization, it’s crucial to consider the ramifications on the existing medical cannabis market and the patients it serves. It’s important the emerging recreational market does not diminish or eliminate the vital medical  cannabis market. 

European lawmakers have the unique opportunity to be the first region to maintain a true medical market for patients and develop a recreational market for adult consumption, potentially existing and thriving simultaneously. European regulators can strengthen existing medical markets while also developing clear distinct recreational markets. It’s important to learn from the United States where a true medical market never existed and therefore has allowed the  recreational market to take over and dominate. Because of the different quality standards of  recreational products, which negatively affects safety and efficacy, it’s essential to maintain a strong medical market to provide safe, effective and standardized cannabis medicine to patients. 

As some European countries start discussing adult-use legalization, ensuring continued care  for patients who rely on medical cannabis is imperative. This mission is of utmost importance to myself and Linnea SA. 

The biggest questions we need to ask in the European cannabis markets are what do we want the future to look like in Europe? And how do we get there? 

Current Legal Landscape Of Medical And Recreational Cannabis Markets In Europe 

Many European countries have medical cannabis programs, though they vary in accessibility for patients and in their regulations. As of now, none have fully legalized recreational or adult-use cannabis. However, looking ahead this has the potential to change in the near future. 

Germany is poised to be the first European country to legalize adult-use cannabis. There has been wide discussion and speculation about this country moving ahead with legalization. The current coalition government of Germany has been very clear about their intentions to legalize  

adult/recreational use for cannabis in Germany and is now challenged to build a regulatory system around the new industry opportunities. Germany is the largest country by population in the European Union and by many is seen as a thought leader in the EU. If the country successfully moves forward with legalizing cannabis, it would not only be the most populous  country in Europe to have a legal adult-use market, but also one of the most populous countries in the world to have one. This could change the entire dynamic and focus of the cannabis industry to Europe from the United States. It is also likely that once Germany legalizes cannabis other EU nations may follow suit creating an even larger market in Europe. However, it's important that as cannabis is legalized for adult use that it does not destroy the medical market 

and availability of cannabis as pharmaceutical medicine, as so many patients with unmet medical need will be left alone. In the U.S. and Canada we have seen exactly that happen when it is legalized and patients are left with no standardized products and no support from doctors. We support broader access for patients while at the same time maintaining and enhancing a  strong medical market so that high quality standardized cannabis medicine that patients can  trust and doctors can confidently recommend is widely available. 

As Germany will be seen as a Europe wide example it’s important to look at the important place medical cannabis holds in Germany now. Germany has established a very considerate reimbursement system for medicinal use, avoiding that the patient has to source medication in lowest quality and endangering themselves by needing to purchase on the illicit market. It demonstrated that Germany places a very high value on their medical cannabis market and cannabis being available and sold as a pharmaceutical by prescription so patients can have the support and advice and also medical monitoring by their doctors in their treatment. It is a great achievement for the presence but also for the pharmaceutical future to have consistent accurate products and dosing in pharmaceutical industry quality. There have been discussions about holding adult-use cannabis to the same high GMP standards as medical cannabis, especially in regards to standardization and product tracing. We believe these high standards of production are most valuable for all consumers and patients as they ensure all consumers and patients get reliable consistent products. This achievement of high standard product and care shall never be compromised. 

We can contrast this to the United States which never had a true medical market. When cannabis was first being legalized in the United States and as many states begin legalization today what they call a medical market is actually a medical prescription system without any standardized products and dosing, a lack of doctors prescribing for serious medical conditions without these standardized products and no insurance reimbursement system. Patients are left with inconsistent high cost products to try to use as medicine without ongoing medical advice. As recreational markets develop and legalize in the U.S. these insufficient medical markets almost entirely disappear or are served by the same recreational products which cannot be applied to medical conditions consistently and accurately. 

The rest of Europe and the world will be watching how this evolves in Europe and it is my and Linnea’s hope that medical cannabis continues to strengthen alongside the possible emergence of the recreational cannabis market. 

The Differences Between Medical And Recreational Cannabis Markets 

The needs of the medical patient and the recreational customer are not interchangeable. Recreational consumers can use any cannabis products of their choosing, however medical  patients require consistent standardized reliable pharmaceutical products, with administration forms that ensure safe therapy and they cannot get the same benefits from recreational products.


Medical cannabis patients often require a very specific standardized dose than what is available recreationally. Medical patients have needs that require reliable potency and dosing, something that is not offered in a recreational market. 

Consumer price is a consideration as well. In places with both medical and adult-use markets, cannabis products intended for recreational use are much more expensive than those intended for medical use. Further, medical cannabis products in many European countries are frequently  partially to fully covered by medical insurance. It is vital to ensure medical patients do not lose their ability to pay for medicine because of a competitive, emerging adult-use market. 

Most importantly, patients using cannabis for medical purposes require effective, safe and controllable doses of cannabinoids, with stability data. Medical cannabis patients also require continued monitoring, medical direction and ongoing advice from their doctors to ensure the efficacy of their treatments. Recreational markets do not provide these types of products nor this type of patient support. 

What Should Future Medical And Recreational Cannabis Markets In Europe Look Like? 

We see the future in Europe as having two coexisting markets. One for medical cannabis patients offering the reliable products and care needed. The other a recreational market  providing accessibility for all adults making this consumption choice. The needs of these markets are inherently different and to continue to serve medical patients we believe it is essential for the European cannabis medical market to grow and expand to serve the needs of patients, as recreational markets start and expand. As a proponent of women’s health and the healthcare of all people, the ability to obtain safe, reliable, and informed care is always on my mind. To ensure a robust medical cannabis market, we need to continue emphasizing the  sector's importance. We must also ensure insurance companies provide some coverage for  medical cannabis for patients in as many countries as possible. 

To effectively legalize adult-use cannabis in Europe this must be done without compromising medical patients’ access to care, The positive growth of cannabinoid science is one important part of ensuring the growth of the medical cannabis industry; an important field of research that  shows enormous potential for further studies and medical applications of cannabinoids. 

The best way to provide continued care for medical cannabis patients is to ensure Europe is the future home to a well regulated medical cannabis industry. 

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