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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