The German Marijuana Edibles Market

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If there is one surety about legalization in Germany, it is that edibles will play a large role in the same. That is a conversation for the moment, overshadowed by the focus on pharmaceutical industry development. However, as whole plant medication takes off here – as it surely will – extracts will be multipurpose – and that includes use for edibles.

In fact, what appears to be a focus on this already bodes well for this vertical, which from the beginning took as much as 50% of market sales in early recreational American states. And if there is one thing that Germans passionately love, it is good food, garnished if not made with local herbs.

Cannabis is well on its way to becoming as German as  Bratwurst and beer. “Krauter” (herbs) already come imbued in everything from sausage to butter. Leibkuchen mit cannabis (literally love cookies or favourite cookies) produced on every German holiday but most in evidence at Christmas, are absolutely not far behind.

In fact, Germans themselves already know this. Early cannabis media efforts here, in fact, are focussing on the same. At the recent Mary Jane expo in Berlin in June, it was already clear that this aspect of Americanization has already landed in Europe, albeit with some interesting hybrid hues.

A Focus on Hemp

The first thing that is absolutely noticeable when hitting a German cannabis “expo” – certainly as was evident at the recent Mary Jane event in Berlin in mid-June – is that people are already experimenting with commercial endeavours around cannabis and food. For obvious reasons, those in the German market to date, are working with what is loosely called “Hanf” here. That is a Teutonic word that covers both industrial hemp and cannabis plants if not industries to date. And it is very clear why people at the business end of all have exploited the vagueness.

“Hanf” has already made its way into fashion here, albeit still of the earthy, Euro-crunchy kind. Beyond clothing, it has also made its way into pre-packaged food and drink varieties of almost every variety – including those labeling if not presenting themselves as “organic” right down to outright, multi-flavoured and coloured “junk.”

Hemp candy, soda, beer and (of course) ice cream have all made early landings here. Given the simplicity of swapping CBD concentrate for one more highly laden with THC is just a matter of legislation, not creativity.

A Focus on Labeling

Regardless of how fast THC makes it into pre-packaged food, there is one obvious difference between the early market here and the one that evolved in the U.S. post-2014. There is no “Hanf” exemption when it comes to production, manufacture, storage, strength, and labeling. And as a result, customers are very used to getting not only what they pay for, but being able to understand what they are getting. Given the fact that German law in particular still outlaws online pharmacies from dispensing prescription narcotics, patients have been trained from an early age to expect not only highly accurate product packaging but verbal explanations to go with it from a licensed expert.

This means that the novice stumbling of the regulatory market around this industry seen in the United States in particular, and even more specifically Colorado, will not be present here. The idea of any licensed food manufacturer using clothes washing machine (for example) to process edible cannabis at any part of its processing would never even be conceived, much less put into production.

Cannabis Cuisine

There will probably not be a cannabis café, much less commercially available cannabis infused dining here for a while. This is for the same reasons found in the United States. This kind of development, outside of Holland, will wait for recreational reform, or a hybrid of it that allows recreational use. It is not as if the Germans do not know this.

So do the Dutch.

As a result, the predominant flavour of all “Hanf” food in the German market these days, with one or two notable exceptions, is of course imported from the Netherlands. The canny Dutch have been trying to crack the German cannabis market from any angle they can for years. Up until now, of course, this has been via seeds and accessories for the most part. These days it also includes anything that can be made from hemp oil…which starts with non-medical strength CBD extracts and all they can be mixed into.

cannabis extracts

Even here, however, while the cross-border, low CBD content market might not be medical now, nor may it ever for reasons that have everything to do with two domestic sovereign country-specific regulation plus Schengen State and European export-import law, there are other considerations which put this industry in another league in Europe.

Just to enter the market, the Dutch companies which are now trying to vie for some part of the obviously valuable German consumer, they have to create products that are exportable. That means they have to pass a level of inspection if not regulation now completely missing in the United States.

This alone puts this edibles market in completely different waters. All that is necessary now is adding a little THC. It is also very likely, considering the state of cannabis laws intra-country in Europe, that the future of edibles here will start with a home-cooked if not sourced recipe.

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Marguerite Arnold

Marguerite Arnold

Marguerite is an American expat. She has worked in digitalization of two industries (film and finance) for over 25 years as well as a professional journalist and writer. She lives in Frankfurt where she is also just finishing her Executive MBA at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, working as a freelancer and writing a medical marijuana/FinTech business plan. She published her first ebook on the pace of marijuana reform last year.

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