Lucrative Potential from European Markets Too Enticing for Canada’s Cannabis Companies to Resist.

Worldwide demand for cannabis, both recreational and medicinal is increasing at a remarkable rate—with researchers Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics, predicting global spending on legal cannabis to hit $57 billion by 2027. However, while much of the attention is being given to Canada which is about to legalize adult recreational cannabis, Canada’s top cannabis companies are increasingly intrigued with Europe.

The number of companies trying their hand at the European market is still much smaller than those focused on the US and Canada. But with attitudes within the EU softening towards cannabis, opportunities are opening across several countries, with big potential for gains for the companies willing to being operations there.

Now the continent is seeing increased activity from Canadian-based companies, large and small, including Aphria Inc. (TSX: APH) (OTC: APHQF), Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSXV: ACB) (OTC: ACBFF), Canopy Growth Inc. (TSX: WEED) (NYSE: CGC), Maricann Group: (OTC: MRRCF) (CSE: MARI), and the continent’s newest entrant, CROP Infrastructure Corp. (OTC: CRXPF) (CSE: CROP).

The sector’s biggest players have taken Europe’s potential quite seriously in the last year, and recently have begun proudly announcing updates from the continent. Earlier this week, both Aurora and Canopy were boasting developments—including Aurora’s first product shipment into Malta’s medical cannabis market, and Canopy’s successful transfer of clones from Spain to Denmark.

So far most of the more recent developments have come near the Mediterranean, in particular in Italy and Malta. While Aurora is shipping products into Malta, Aphria is moving forward on making the country a hub for processing, manufacturing, and distribution. Earlier in the month, Maricann updated its shareholders on its letter of intent to acquire a license in Malta, on a deal worth $10 million.

Now CROP Infrastructure Corp. is entering the Italy region, with a newly announced plan to develop a 522,000 sq ft facility in Northeastern Italy. The company, known as a facilitator with extensive cannabis expertise, has now positioned itself to be the first vertically integrated play in Italy, with CBD and cannabis light products for retail distribution.

The massive potential for Europe’s blossoming legal cannabis market is becoming too large to ignore for the sector’s biggest players. There are a lot of intriguing factors that point toward entering the European market as an inevitability for long-term success in the sector.

 

THE ULTIMATE CANNABIS EUROVISION

Aphria Inc. instantly saw the value of the Italian market when it assessed it. So much so, that it didn’t balk at the $826 million price tag it paid for cannabis firm Nuuvera Inc., which was promptly renamed Aphria International.

Lorne Abony, Aphria International’s CEO, saw the company’s exclusive rights to one of only seven licenses to import medical cannabis into Italy at the time to be worth “$9 billion larger than the combination of the recreational and medical markets in Canada.”

When it took over Cannimed late last year, Aurora Cannabis officially made its own European splash. Among CanniMed’s assets were entry points into the markets of Denmark, Italy, and Germany.

Through its subsidiary Spektrum Cannabis GmbH, Canopy Growth has been quite active in Europe, moving its wares around the continent, setting up for a big impact. Pierre Debs, Managing Director of Spektrum Cannabis GmbH, a subsidiary of Canopy Growth told Financial Post that he expects to import up to 200kg of dried Canadian cannabis flower monthly into Germany by the end of 2018—up 33.3% from the current 150kgs per month.

“We have been and continue to be focused on being the medical cannabis leader in Europe, by bringing the expertise and credibility we have established in Canada to European markets,” said Mark Zekulin, President, Canopy Growth in a company update.

Now the continent is welcoming a new player, in CROP Infrastructure, having signed a deal to develop a 522,000 sq ft facility, to go along with its previously announced licensing deal with a topical brand for exclusive Italy rights on an extensive product line of cannabinoid-infused products. Through the deal, CROP secured its involvement in one of Italy’s only three extraction facilities, and the initial yield of the greenhouse is expected to be a combined 44,000 lbs of low-THC, high-CBD cannabis light per year.

 

CANNABIS COMPANIES SPREADING LIKE WEEDS

Aphria Inc. (TSX: APH) (OTC: APHQF)

Aphria’s Maltese subsidiary, ASG Pharma, recently received its first import license for cannabis. Issued by the Malta Medicines Authority, the license will allow ASG to import medical cannabis for analytical testing and research. Aphria hopes to make ASG the processing, manufacturing and distribution hub for all of Europe.

Canopy Growth Inc. (TSX: WEED) (NYSE: CGC)

Through its European subsidiary Spectrum, Canopy recently updated its shareholders on its European operations, across multiple countries. Spectrum successfully transferred live cannabis clones from its Madrid-based partner to Spectrum Denmark, to begin growing operations at the company’s greenhouse facility in Odense, Denmark. The company also successfully transferred high quality medical cannabis between its wholly-owned subsidiaries in Germany and the Czech Republic.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSXV: ACB) (OTC: ACBFF)

When it took over CanniMed late last year, Aurora Cannabis joined the European cannabis market. Through assuming CanniMed’s assets came Aurora’s entry into the markets of Denmark, Italy, and Germany. Recently Aurora announced through its German subsidiary, it became the first licensed supplier of medical cannabis to patients in Malta.

Maricann Group: (OTC: MRRCF) (CSE: MARI)

Maricann became the first company to seek opportunities in Malta when the country opened its door to legal cannabis options. The company began by applying for licensing through the acquisition of Maltest company, Medican. With a decision by the government expected by mid-July, Maricann is confident that it will receive approval. Approval would officially greenlight the company’s Maltese operations to import, export, manufacture, and sell medical cannabis throughout the EU.

CROP Infrastructure Corp. (OTC: CRXPF) (CSE: CROP)

Through a joint venture agreement, CROP recently announced plans to develop a permitted cannabis light farm at a 522,000 sq ft project in Northeastern Italy. Along with the growing, the joint venture has also been permitted to develop one of only few extraction and processing facilities in the entire country of Italy. With these plans, CROP intends to begin construction on an 87,000 sq ft state-of-the-art greenhouse facility.

 

CROP’S ITALIAN INVASION

As its name states, CROP Infrastructure Corp. (OTC: CRXPF) (CSE: CROP) is heavily involved in facilitating new infrastructure in the cannabis space. By formulating relationships with up-and-coming growers, CROP is strategically securing a series of interests in tomorrow’s biggest cannabis brands.

It’s through this type of relationship that CROP and its partners are embarking on the company’s newest Italian joint venture. Located in Northeastern Italy, the permitted cannabis light farm will span 522,000 square feet, with the addition of an 87,000 square foot state-of-the-art greenhouse facility, and only the country’s third ever extraction and processing facility.

While the joint venture works with local Italian banks to provide debt financing for the project, CROP has committed to injecting an initial investment of €500,000. The initial investment will enable the company to populate the first 435,000 sq ft, retrofit the extraction facility and the commencement of construction on an 87,000 sq ft greenhouse facility. The initial yield of the tenant joint-venture greenhouse is expected to be a combined 44,000 pounds of low-THC, high-CBD cannabis light per year.

Products grown and processed in the facility will be sold to international CBD markets under white label, the venture’s house name XHEMBLAR and CROP brands, TIFFANY CBD and HEMPIRE ITALIA. Along with the joint venture’s products, the company will also use the processing facility to infuse its recently announced product lines licensed from Yield Growth Corp. for sale to domestic markets throughout Italy.

“The company has identified that many countries throughout Europe specifically focusing on the CBD markets are prime new entry points for our growing organization,” said CROP Infrastructure Director and CEO Michael Yorke. “I look forward to working closely with the XHemplar team on this new endeavor for our company.”

The overarching plan allows CROP to be the first vertically integrated play in Italy, with CBD products for retail distribution. Armed with the Italian rights to an extensive worldwide topicals product line through the Yield Growth Corp., CROP now has the tools to market the leading cannabis wellness brands in Italy, and to Europe as a whole.

 

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