By Marguerite Arnold
The European market continues to open with caution. This fall, widespread medical hemp and CBD availability made little international news when it went on sale in Europe, but movement is afoot even if it is proceeding slowly and without much fanfare.
It is clear, however, that Euro leaders seem to be watching developments in the United States and making policy moves to open up both the CBD and THC medical markets. There is not much of an organized call yet from “mainstream” politicians to sanction the recreational market, despite efforts from politicians and political parties on the extreme opposites of the political spectrum.
However, just as in the U.S., where Sen. Rand Paul from Kentucky, a self-described “libertarian” and one of the Senate’s most visible voices on marijuana reform, has teamed up with unlikely allies in the Democratic Party—Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., the movement in Europe seems to be supported most vigorously by the Greens and conservative politicians tired of wasting money on re-arresting low level street dealers.
In Germany and Austria, the movement is garnering marches in support of reform as the government considers how to implement medical use into the healthcare system, possibly beginning next year. The new jobs argument in Deutschland, which is accepting a million new refugees in part to solve its dropping birth rate situation this year, may not be as compelling as it is in the U.S. right now, but it is relevant.
Not every German town and region is bustling with new energy yet from the stimulus of the Central Bank, and green jobs are as important here as anywhere. The tax income to be generated is also a persuasive argument in the more culturally conservative parts of the continent. Yet the Greens continue to beat the legalization drum and this year, conservative politicians, like Joachim Pfeiffer, a member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union in the Bundestag, similar to the U.S. House of Representatives, are joining them, specifically citing the tax revenue that recreational reform will bring the country.
In England, with the arrival of Jeremy Corbin as Labor leader, the issue could possibly get a redress at the national level as well. Conservative politician Peter Lilley has been making noises about reform for several years, calling cannabis reform in the U.K. a priority just from the law enforcement perspective.
As change is more incremental this year, but in its own way just as significant in the U.S., the European attitude toward cannabis seems to be slowly shifting toward implementing the inevitable. The alignment of very different political voices—traditionally shunted aside from the “mainstream”—is also part of a potent mix that gives legalization in Europe, at least for medical purposes, a better chance of passing by the time federal reform occurs in the U.S.