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The Growth of the Polish Medical Cannabis Industry

The Growth of the Polish Medical Cannabis Industry

Medical cannabis is gaining popularity all over the world and is an extremely lucrative market. While countries like the UK and Germany are well-known for their large medical cannabis markets, there’s a country that isn’t discussed as frequently but is quickly progressing amongst the ranks – Poland. 

While it’s not as large or as quickly growing as the German medical cannabis market, Poland has made great strides since first legalising medical marijuana in 2017. In fact, according to The Poland Cannabis White Paper by Prohibition Partners, the medicinal cannabis market in Poland is expected to be worth at least €2 billion (£1.685 billion)by 2028. 

However, the Polish medical cannabis market has a long and complicated history, with legislative factors hindering the market’s growth and making access difficult for producers and consumers alike. In this article, we will discuss the Polish medical cannabis industry, how it has grown through the years, legislative and supply chain bottlenecks, and how the industry is set to progress. 

History and Legalisation of Medical Cannabis 

Like other countries like the UK, the U.S., Germany, and China, Poland also signed the 1925 International Opium Convention, which, in addition to restricting opium, also criminalised the growth and use of cannabis. However, as the opinion on legalising medical cannabis began shifting in the 2010s, and the Polish people called for access to more than just non-psychoactive oils such as CBD, the country finally legalised medical cannabis on 22 June 2017 and became the 12th European country to do so.

Demand for Medical Cannabis in Poland 

There is high demand for medical cannabis from Poland’s nearly 38 million population. It has been estimated that 60% of medical cannabis will be prescribed for chronic pain, while the other 40% may be prescribed to treat conditions such as epilepsy and MS. 

The demand for this treatment is seen as ever-increasing because of the studies conducted showing higher rates of chronic pain and MS in Poland as compared to other European countries. One study found that 27% of Polish citizens experienced chronic pain – the second-highest rate in the European Union. This equals more than 10 million people who can use medical cannabis for relief. 

The country also has a higher than average rate of people who suffer from MS, with surveys showing that 0.115% of the Polish population is made of MS sufferers. Since the average rate across Europe is 106 people per 100,000, which equates to almost 110 people per 100,000, this puts Poland in the high-risk category. Additionally, while the global prevalence of epilepsy is 0.638%, this is 1% in Poland’s population. 

The demand for different cannabis products is growing rapidly as cannabis gains even more momentum in Poland. There is high demand for CBD oils and inhalants and vaporisation products, which suppliers can take advantage of because Poland relies on cannabis imports.

Poland has made it illegal to grow cannabis that contains more than 0.2% THC in the country, which results in the dependency on cannabis imports. All raw material has to be imported, which Polish pharmacies can then process for medical purposes. 

Poland’s Medical Cannabis Market as Compared To Neighbouring Countries

While Poland’s medical cannabis market is blossoming, it has been slower than other countries in the region. While medicinal cannabis was legalised for purchase in Poland in November 2017, it wasn’t available for purchase in pharmacies until more than a year later, in December 2018.

Even now, because of the lack of domestic production and the ban on home cultivation, prices are much higher than those abroad, leaving out a large market of potential consumers. This is in sharp contrast to Poland’s laws on who can be treated with medicinal cannabis. Polish doctors don’t have a particular list of conditions they prescribe the treatment for and can prescribe it to everyone. However, the costs associated with getting the treatment are a major deterrent for patients.

Unlike the German medical cannabis market, the Polish one does not offer reimbursements for medicinal cannabis, making it difficult for those who cannot afford the costly treatment. This, combined with the ban on the cultivation of medicinal cannabis and limited supply, makes prices high in Poland and reserves the use of medical cannabis to those who can afford it. 

Despite having a population of nearly 38 million people and legalising medical marijuana in the same year as Germany, the market remains small compared to Germany because of its hurdles. European countries like the Czech Republic and Austria are also more progressive than Poland regarding policies surrounding medicinal cannabis. However, it’s important to note that this is all relative since Poland is much more liberal than neighbouring countries like Ukraine and Slovakia, where medical cannabis is still illegal. 

The Way Forward for the Polish Cannabis Industry

Cultivation of industrial hemp has been legal in Poland for years and has been rapidly growing. While only 100 hectares were cultivated in the country in 2014, this grew exponentially and reached 1219.22 hectares in 2018. As cultivation grows, perhaps Poland will follow in neighbour Germany’s footsteps and begin domestic cultivation and production. Doing so would be incredibly lucrative and would reduce the cost of cannabis for Polish consumers significantly. 

As with any industry that’s highly regulated, testing is an important point of discussion. Like most other countries, Poland also has restrictions in place for cannabis and its sale. In addition to the ban on home cultivation, Poland has put a limit of 0.2% of delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on cannabis. 

Additionally, while CBD is legal in Poland, there are restrictions on marketing it since the Polish government forbids marketing CBD as a cure for any ailment. As such, retailers and businesses cannot mention health benefits of CBD tinctures or oils to market their products.

If you want to take advantage of Poland’s dependence on cannabis imports, it’s important to abide by these laws and gain regulatory approval. Strict potency checking and ensuring that products are labelled properly is the way to do this. 

Fortunately, IFS Laboratories is here to help with all your cannabis testing needs. We’re a UKAS-accredited laboratory that uses state-of-the-art techniques to perform all kinds of analytical testing, including cannabinoid analysis, terpene analysis, shelf-life and stability testing, and more. Contact us here for further details.