The walls of cannabis prohibition continue to crumble on the European continent, as evidenced by the results of a new poll this week from Hanway Associates. The poll, which was the first of its kind for Hanway and conducted in conjunction with Cansativa, Curaleaf International, and Ince, surveyed adults in Europe and asked them various questions about adult-use cannabis.
“The polling data published by Hanway Associates reveals that there is majority support across Europe for legal, government-regulated sales of cannabis products to adults over the age of 18 years. Overall, of the 9,043 adults surveyed, 55% supported legal recreational cannabis, 20% were indifferent, and the remainder, 25%, were opposed.” stated a press release announcing the poll results.
Unlike many other polls that I have seen out of Europe, this poll by Hanway focused entirely on adult-use cannabis reform and sales rather than combining it with medical cannabis. Medical cannabis is absolutely important. However, it’s insightful to see such thorough polling specific to adult-use policies and regulations, given the political climate in Europe right now regarding adult-use reform.
Retail Stores Are Prefered
Malta became the first European country in history to legalize cannabis for adult-use nationwide late last year. Malta is not the largest country in Europe by any stretch of the imagination; however, the public policy shift absolutely increased momentum for reform in other European countries. It’s worth noting that the study at the heart of this article was conducted months after Malta’s legalization measure was passed.
Whenever you talk about adult-use cannabis reform in Europe and the industry it will create, it’s vital to compare the different legalization models currently in use or being proposed. For instance, Malta will incorporate the ‘club model’ as it is often referred to. Spain has a similar club model already in place, albeit unregulated. The club model involves people joining private clubs to acquire cannabis. That is different from selling cannabis via storefronts and pharmacies, which is being proposed in other European countries such as Germany.
With that in mind, one set of results from the Hanway study stood out. “Of particular importance to Europeans was companies’ adherence to the highest standard of service and regulation in their approach to legal recreational cannabis, which is why a regulated retail offering is the least controversial option amongst supporters of legal recreational cannabis, with 81% in favor vs. social clubs (56% support) and homegrown (62% support).” the previously mentioned poll press release stated.
“Of all the respondents in the poll, 48% support regulated retail stores, 35% support homegrown, and 32% support social clubs. Homegrown has the strongest opposition, with 41% against amongst all respondents. These findings indicate promising commercial opportunities for stores and highly regulated product.” the press release noted.
Enormous Market Potential
Another noteworthy result relates to the number of Europeans open to trying cannabis if it was legal to purchase and consume. “We also find that nearly 30% of Europeans would consider trying legal cannabis – a potential consumer base of over 120m adults across core European markets,” Hanway stated.
Every nation that legalizes cannabis for adult use in Europe helps build momentum in surrounding countries. Malta was the first to legalize cannabis. However, it will not be the last. It’s also not the only jurisdiction where cannabis is legal in Europe. Low-THC products are already legal throughout Switzerland, in addition to a pilot program ramping up for products that are not low in THC. Multiple other countries are also ramping up similar pilot programs, and court decisions have legalized personal cannabis use/cultivation in some places to some degree, such as in Italy.
When the sky remains intact over the jurisdictions in Europe that allow legal cannabis commerce to occur, in whatever form it inevitably takes, other countries will take note and speed up their efforts. If not, the leaders in those countries risk their nations being left behind and missing out on a once-in-a-generation economic opportunity.
This article first appeared at InternationalCannabisChronicle.com and is syndicated here with special permission.
Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference. Upcoming conferences include Barcelona (March 10th), Berlin (July 19-20th), and Zurich (September 8-9).