Cannabis in Europe, 2023 Update

europe and cannabis

History of Europe and Cannabis

The 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is a international treaty that includes provisions regarding cannabis and other drugs. The treaty requires signatory countries to prohibit the production, manufacture, and distribution of certain drugs, including cannabis, for non-medical and non-scientific purposes. The treaty also allows for the medical and scientific use of these drugs, but with strict controls and regulations in place.

Despite cannabis being a controlled substance under the 1961 treaty, several countries and jurisdictions have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use. Several European countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal have decriminalized cannabis possession and usage in small amounts for personal use. Canada even legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2018.

As more and more countries see the benefits of hemp and cannabis, they are looking past the 1961 UN treaty and instead looking toward a future full of green pastures.


switzerland pilot cannabis program

In August of 2022, Switzerland began to allow patients to get medical cannabis through a medical prescription and announced its plans for a ‘Weed Care’ trial. The Switzerland pilot program for adult cannabis use is a two-year study that has been approved by the Swiss government. The purpose of the pilot program is to evaluate the impact of recreational cannabis legalization on public health, crime, and economy in Switzerland. This project will also provide important information about the effects of legal cannabis use on individuals and communities in the country.

The Swiss pilot program will allow a select number of adults aged 18 and over to possess, purchase and consume cannabis from designated retailers located in select cities across the country. Additionally, there will be restrictions on how cannabis can be advertised, consumed in public places and shared with minors.

The Federal Office of Health has approved six cannabis products from Swiss manufacturer, Pure Production, for regulated sale. The program is set to begin at the end of January 2023 with an expected total of 370 participants. In order to understand the effects of adult cannabis use and sales, participants will regularly be asked about their cannabis consumption behavior and their physical and mental health.


germany and recreational cannabis

Germany looks like it is set to become the first major European country to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use after German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced the outline of a possible cannabis law in October of 2022. The proposed law roughly follows the Canadian model and would declassify cannabis as a narcotic and create a state licensed system for production, delivery, and sales. It would also allow adults to have 20-30 grams for personal use and create a federal cannabis tax.

If the law is passed, the legalization of cannabis in Germany is expected to have a significant impact on the European Union's drug laws. It could pave the way for other countries to legalize or decriminalize marijuana possession and use, along with leading to more lenient drug laws across the European Union, especially regarding cannabinoids and their therapeutic applications.

The success of Germany's cannabis law will be closely monitored by other countries in Europe and beyond, as it could provide an example of how to effectively regulate the legal cannabis market and ensure public safety. 

UK and Cannabis

united kingdom and cannabis reform

New data from the UK has shown there is a huge disparity between the number of cannabis prescriptions being prescribed by the private sector versus those prescribed by the National Health, NHS, England since the law was changed in 2018.

The NHS has overall given out approximately 12,000 prescriptions for both unlicensed and licensed cannabis products since 2018. But this number pales in comparison to the approximately 89,000 prescriptions given out by the private sector. 

Cannabis users in the United Kingdom see this as an issue since it is directly attached to the cost of their plant medicine. Those buying through a private prescription are sometimes spending hundreds each month just to maintain the prescription itself.

The UK Cannabis Industry Council is working to urge the NHS to deliver an improved system which works in the interests of patients, including those with disabilities, mental health conditions, and children.

2023 Cannabis Trade Shows

There are a number of trade shows in Europe to look out for this year. As legalization becomes a more popular topic across Europe, these shows could be the start of innovations and connections for the European cannabis market. 

International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC)

There will be three International Cannabis Business Conference events in 2023. March sees ICBC in Barcelona, with two separate shows in Berlin, one in June and another in July. The separate Berlin conferences are set up to cater to two distinct audiences, the investment side of cannabis and the general B2B side. ICBC events are known to attract policymakers, corporate leaders, and entrepreneurs from more than 80 countries looking to connect businesses seeking capital with seasoned investors.


Spannabis is one of Europe’s most popular cannabis events that happens every March in Barcelona. It is a consumer-focused event that attracts roughly 35,000 attendees, with seen knowledge being prioritized among the hundreds of national and international exhibitors.

International Conference on Medical Cannabis

The International Research Conference will be hosting a digital event in Zurich, Switzerland in July of 2023. The goal of the conference is to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers, and research scholars to share their experiences and research results on all aspects of medical cannabis. 

The conference also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations and trends in medical cannabis. The experts can also share their concerns, along with any encountered practical challenges and solutions adopted in the fields of medical cannabis.

Future of Cannabis in Europe

It is likely that by 2023, most countries in the European Union will have some form of cannabis legalization or decriminalization policy in place. This could lead to a more unified approach to drug laws and regulations across Europe. Additionally, it could provide valuable insight for other countries looking to legalize marijuana and benefit from its economic and medical potential.