Cannabis industry

Navigating the Cannabis Industry in Europe

The cannabis industry in Europe 

Due in part to legislation but also mentality, Europe’s approach to cannabis is fairly fragmented, with the discrepancies between countries being mostly THC-related, while the CBD industry is more harmonised. This fragmentation not only regards legality but also the beliefs and attitudes, which vary widely between countries. 

Despite common belief, there is still a big stigma around cannabis in the Netherlands. Coffee shops are very much separated from the CBD business and serve largely different consumer demographics. 

As a consumer of both CBD and THC I felt there was huge potential to help people with these products, but it would require me to fully embrace my affinity to something that still elicits a wide range of responses in people.

The challenges in becoming an entrepreneur 

When I decided to go for it, I left behind a corporate career to launch my first business and found myself steeped in imposter syndrome with a huge fear of visibility (what would my parents think? what would my ex-colleagues think?).

I was forced to confront these issues and more around accepting my voice and my dreams; what I’ve learned is that there is no way to avoid doing this deep mindset work when stepping into entrepreneurship.

Simultaneously I gained clarity around who I wanted to help and what I really wanted to do with my life, rather than what I thought was expected of me or what I thought was possible. Once I had found my big Why, things started falling into place.

Herbal tea production and self-care

I started creating herbal teas to help with my own anxiety and soon realised that the teas were part of my path. I noticed that although I’d always drunk tea I didn’t take the time to really be with it mindfully, relax for 15 minutes and just BE.

As I started researching more about the herbs and their properties I found that this was not only a creative outlet but a portal to deeper self-care, which spoke to my desire to help evolve attitudes towards cannabis.

I began sharing my teas with friends and family and found that they started opening up about their lives and their worries. It was then that I realised the potential of the teas; that they are a way to help people engage with self-care who might not otherwise be very open to the concept.

Entering the cannabis industry

I only connected with other people in the industry after I launched my teas. Prior to that I had been somewhat paralysed by my imposter syndrome and intimidated by the idea of going to an industry event.

This shifted when I met the Hannabis team. I spontaneously joined them at an event they were going to and it turned out to be a game changer. I made great contacts, found new suppliers and began introducing the new business to my peers; in short I claimed my seat in the industry.

The event was the Hemp & CBD Expo, which, like any other industry, showcased a lot of variation in terms of professionalism. While this meant there were aspects I found disappointing, I met so many amazing people and discovered some wonderful brands that it definitely felt worth it.

A networking event in Amsterdam also proved fruitful; while it was white-male dominated, it had an intimate quality and a broad range of attendees including entrepreneurs, scientists and investors. It was here that I met Hempstory (a hemp shop in Amsterdam) with whom I now have an amazing collaboration. Lesson being: meeting people brings opportunities.

Cannabis and CBD facts and figures 

The following numbers are sourced from an analysis by New Frontier Data 2019.

  • The cannabis industry is worth $344 billion a year (both legal and illegal)
  • 263 million people consume it at least once a year
  • 1.2 billion people across the planet are suffering from a condition that cannabis is known to b helpful for (estimate)
  • The European market is the third globally ($68.5) after Asia and the US (both legal and illegal)

The majority of people in the European Union have heard of CBD (56%). In the UK 78% have heard of it, in France only 36% and in Benelux 69%. It’s clear that this is still a growing industry with a lot of potential.

Education is very much needed to empower patients to do their own research and self-medicate accordingly. With 74% of people using CBD reporting that it had a positive impact on their lives, this is not only an opportunity to expand the market but a responsibility towards alleviating suffering.

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