Matthew Stratton Partner
First-Ever Pan-European Public Opinion Poll on Cannabis Finds a Continent Ready for Legalisation
A Report Backed by New Polling Data and Contributions from Top Cannabis Executives Finds That More Than Half of Europeans Support Adult-Use Cannabis Legalisation
Hanway Associates in partnership with Curaleaf International, Cansativa and international law firm Ince announced today the release of its first ever “Recreational Europe” report, comprising a trove of in-depth polling data and commentary on the commercial and cultural impacts of adult-use cannabis legalisation in Europe. As talk of recreational legalisation in countries like Germany and Denmark continues to build momentum, “Recreational Europe” takes a deep look at European consumer and regulatory attitudes toward adult-use cannabis legalisation in Europe’s burgeoning cannabis markets and makes the case that now is the time to invest in the European cannabis marketplace.
The legal framework of cannabis legalisation is not just a matter of domestic legislation, as there are other legal considerations such as UN Drug Control Treaties and EU acquis to include. This presents legal challenges and possible blockers to commercial cannabis legalisation which will impact international exports of recreational cannabis and other cannabis-related trade. As such, companies looking to maximise the emerging opportunities in the cannabis market in Europe have complex legal challenges to consider, including the impact that legalisation will have on the Proceeds of Crime Act and associated implications, as well as compliance with other anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.
As legalisation scales, it is anticipated that so will the drive for companies to raise capital, list on public markets, and access other financial markets and crucial ancillary services such as banking and insurance. The legal sector will play a key role in assisting and advising companies to successfully navigate these challenges as they increase fundraising, IPOs, and M&A activity. Other major opportunities for the legal sector exist in compliance and in aiding cannabis operators to license applications.
“We produced this report to cut through the noise around cannabis legalisation in Europe,” said Alastair Moore, Founder of The Hanway Company. “The topic, which was once characterised by extremely polarized voices for and against legalisation, is quickly becoming a more tame, bureaucratic conversation around civic priorities. Public opinion across Europe is now clearly in favour of legalising cannabis and governments across the continent are already creating legal access programmes. What was once a hypothetical scenario is fast becoming a reality.”
“We see the European market as three to four years behind, but it actually looks like Europe may initiate sweeping reform before the United States,” said Boris Jordan, executive chairman of U.S.-based Curaleaf. “Germany indicating they will legalise recreational use will be an inflection point for the market since it represents the largest economy in Europe, and we feel once Germany goes the rest of the continent will follow suit.”
Complementing the latest regulatory progress in the region, polling data from the report across eight European markets found that more than half of Europeans (55%) support adult-use cannabis legalisation.
Additional findings from the report include:
- Not only do a majority of Europeans support adult-use legalisation, 30% are interested in trying it
- A majority of Europeans support regulated cannabis shops but do not support growing at home
- Top concerns among Europeans are youth cannabis use and increased driving under the influence of cannabis
- Unlike in the United States, social equity is not yet a core priority for Europeans
In addition to the report’s findings around commercial and societal support for legalisation, European regulators have signalled that they are open to loosening cannabis restrictions.
“In France, the political leaders remain anchored in an untenable position,” said Mr. Ludovic Mendes, MP for the second constituency of Moselle for the LREM group, member of the law commission. “We need to have a society-based debate because this is not solely a political issue, it is a societal one. There is a need to work with scientists, doctors, pharmacists, and addiction experts to break down the stereotypes regarding cannabis consumption. Speech of utter repression is no longer an option. I, therefore, appeal for a great national debate with referendum consultations to be put in place immediately after the presidential election.”
Matthew Stratton, Partner at Ince, added: “Recreational Europe collects some fascinating insights into the cannabis market in Europe and we are delighted to have contributed to this report. The particularities of this sector – including the level of associated risk due to market maturity, political connotations, and social implications – imply greater need for companies to seek specialist corporate legal advisors to support them through IPOs, M&As and other transactions, as well as tackle any AML compliance issues that may arise.
“We have noticed growing interest in European-based cannabis companies - especially from North American organisations looking for acquisition targets on the continent. We expect a highly rewarding landscape and a prosperous future ahead for the cannabis sector as the European public positively shifts its views about cannabis and facilitates a regulatory shift in the region towards legalisation.”
Download the report here: