Germany enjoyed majority of Canada’s record dried cannabis exports in 2019, European country faces supply issues

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Last year, federally regulated cannabis producers in Canada logged approximately 3,740 kilograms (8,245 pounds) of dried cannabis exports. Based on recent data published by Health Canada, the bulk of exported cannabis was used for both medical and scientific purposes. 

In comparison with exports recorded by Canadian cannabis producers in 2018 –  1,460 kilograms – the latest figures represent growth of 160 percent. Industry experts believe that the rise in Canada’s international cannabis shipments has contributed to the North American country’s emergence as the world’s second-largest exporter of dried medical cannabis; Netherlands takes the top spot.

Of the 4,370 kilograms of medical cannabis flower that Canada exported in 2019, 1,000 kg was used to produce dronabinol — a man-made type of THC-rich cannabis that is used to treat appetite loss in AIDS patients.

Germany was the primary destination for Canada’s dried cannabis exports

An impressive 94 percent of the total amount of Canada’s dried cannabis exports in 2019 – 3,740.232 kilograms – made the long journey to Germany. The European country imported around 6,714 kilograms of medical cannabis flower in 2019 from numerous destinations, with Canada accounting for 52 percent of Germany’s imported flower. The Netherlands was the second-biggest exporter to Germany’s market.

Since Canadian businesses exported the largest amount of dried medical cannabis in 2019 than ever before, concerns have started surfacing regarding future growth for the country’s industry. Why? Because Germany – the country’s main export destination – is expected to kickstart local production anytime now.

As a precautionary measure before revenue streams dry up, business owners are now searching desperately for export avenues in international destinations. The outlook appears to be pretty, however, with oil and oil-derived cannabis products constituting a significant portion of market growth; compared to flower, which is being dominated by extracts.

Germany remains the biggest European market for medical cannabis

Reliance on Canada’s cannabis exports is easing. After all, production is set to begin soon in Germany. The country boasts Europe’s largest medical cannabis market, where reimbursements from patient prescriptions amounted to €123 million (USD$138 million) in 2019. Within the next three years, the country’s market is expected to inflate to almost €7.7 billion (USD$8.6 billion).

Based on figures published in the “Medical Cannabis in Europe” report, annual sales of medical cannabis in Germany totaled €170 million (USD$192 million) last year. The European country’s industry has gone from strength-to-strength, with increased patient counts and investments boosting Germany’s status as a legitimate market.

During 2020’s third quarter, the first ever import and sales of Khiron-branded EU GMP medical cannabis products are expected to arrive in Germany’s market. This deal was confirmed after Khiron Life Sciences teamed up with German medical cannabis supplier Nimbus Health to expand distribution across domestic pharmacies; thus putting Germany one step closer to global export dominance.

Nonetheless, it should be noted that Germany’s supply of medical cannabis is slowly drying up. On June 11, the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis (OMC) emailed German customers alerting them of a potential six-week delay in the next shipment of medical cannabis.

“Due to additional testing needed to release the batches for export, we are momentarily out of stock,” reads an excerpt from the message sent by the Dutch government agency.