European Cannabis Round-Up: New Figures Show Healthy Growth In Czech Medical Cannabis, Goodbody Health Sells CBD Facility, & French Study Reveals Ageing Cannabis Users

Linda Rider

Czechia’s Medical Cannabis

AS Czechia races ahead with plans to launch a fully regulated adult-use cannabis market, with the potential to beat Germany to the punch, new data suggests its medical cannabis market is also experiencing healthy growth. 

In January 2022, Czechia made significant changes to its medical cannabis framework making it much easier for patients to access products. 

This has helped drive an increase in patient numbers of almost 25{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} in the 11 months to November 2022, compared to full-year 2021. 

In 2021, patient numbers grew by 22.5{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} to 4601, in the first 11 months of 2022 patient numbers grew to 5744. 

According to newly released data from Czechia’s State Agency For Medical Cannabis, there was also a significant jump in November, with patient numbers topping 2000 for the first time in a single month. 

This was reflected in the number of grams of medical cannabis issued, increasing nearly 10{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} month-on-month and nearly 30{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} when compared to January 2022. 

Earlier this year CEO of the Czech patients association KOPAC, Hana Vágnerová, told Prohibition Partners that the most significant barrier to market growth was that ‘only specialised doctors who register for providing medical cannabis can treat patients and this number stands at 150 as of February 2022, or about one such specialist per 100,000 people’.

The government’s new data suggests that by November this had increased by 13{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} to 168, and could now stand at over 200. 

While January’s changes to legislation have helped drive a steady increase in the market, other factors including a single domestic cultivator, restrictive licensing and continued restrictions on who can prescribe are hampering further expansion. 

Period No. prescriptions issued No.of grams issued No. patients No. of prescribing doctors
January 2055 11607.63 1721 151
February 1872 10526.19 1580 152
March 2275 12362.23 1816 153
April 2088 11620.87 1743 144
May 2401 13202.4 1973 150
June 2347 13758.58 1961 156
July 1959 12391.75 1694 156
August 2221 13282.76 1886 159
September 2364 14236.64 1985 163
October 2311 13606.73 1993 162
November 2591 14911.67 2194 168
Total 24484 141507,45 5744 212

Voyager Life Expands Into Poland

Scottish CBD firm Voyager Life has announced the £1.5m acquisition of a CBD extraction and manufacturing facility in Poland from its UK-based CBD stablemate Goodbody Health.

On December 16 Voyager announced that it planned to take ‘full operational control’ of the facility on January 1 2023. 

The GMP certified facility is understood to have been bought by Stillcanna (which subsequently merged with Goodbody) for £13m in 2019.

Its sale at nearly a tenth of its original price marks the latest move away from the CBD industry from Goodbody, which has pivoted its focus increasingly towards COVID and blood testing initiatives in recent months. 

While there was no indication that Goodbody planned to stop selling its range of CBD products, it said in a parallel statement that ‘the levels of CBD sales by Goodbody Health were insufficient justification for meeting the costs of running a full extraction plant and the level of management input.’

Meanwhile Voyager says it now plans to begin manufacturing its CBD products in Poland, alongside producing other plant-based products like essential oils and cold-pressed hemp seed oil.

The company says this will turn it into a vertically integrated, pan-European business, giving it control over its supply chain from extraction to manufacture and retail.

It will also see Voyager acquire the shares of Goodbody’s subsidiaries Sativa Wellness Poland and Olimax. 

Voyager will pay £0.5m in cash, and the further £1m in convertible loan notes ‘subject to regulatory approval’ being granted by Polish authorities. 

To fund the acquisition, Voyager has reportedly raised around £550k from new investors, existing shareholders and its CEO Nick Tulloch and Non-Executive Chairman Eric Boyle. 

According to Voyager, the aforementioned directors have ‘irrevocably agreed to subscribe for £200k of the £550k.’ 

However, these investments are understood to take the pair over the threshold of the ‘Takeover Code’, which stipulates any shareholders which carry more than 30{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} of the voting rights must make a cash offer to purchase the rest of the shares. 

Shareholders will be asked to vote on whether to waive this obligation in a ‘forthcoming general meeting’. 

Alongside this, Voyager intends to issue nearly 3m new ordinary shares at a price of 12p per share on Aquis, raising proceeds of £0.35m, to partially fund the acquisition. 

French Study Sheds Light On Cannabis Usage

A new trends study of 23,661 adults aged 18 to 64, conducted by the French Observatory of Drugs and Addictive Trends (OFDT), revealed that the age of cannabis users had increased significantly over the past 30 years. 

According to the study, published on December 19, the average age of current cannabis users has risen from 25 in 1992 to 32 in 2021. 

For those under 25 however, usage has been falling since 2017. Experimentation dropped 5.5{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} between 2017 and 2021, while regular usage fell by 2.1{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} to 6.3{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c}. 

Conversely, the percentage of 45 to 54-year-olds who say they consumed cannabis at least once a month grew from 2.9{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} to 3.4{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} since 2017, while the number of 55 to 64-year olds who had consumed cannabis during the year also grew from 1.6{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} to 2.5{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c}. 

General consumption remained relatively stable, with 47.3{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} of those surveyed stating they had used cannabis in their lifetime. 

Cannabis continued to be the most widely used illicit substance in France, with 10.6{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} of adults stating they had consumed it in the last year, a level similar to that in 2017. 

More regular consumption appeared to be falling however, with those consuming cannabis 10 or more times a month dropping from 3{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} in 2017 to 1.7{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} in 2021, and those consuming daily dropping from 3.6{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} to 2.2{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} over the same period. 

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