Five companies have applied to Denmark’s government for licenses to sell and export medicinal cannabis.
The country is a quarter of the way through a four-year medicinal cannabis trial, but some of the usual suspects are not waiting for the outcome to slow down their Danish strategy in what is emerging as a key market.
Aurora Nordic, Medican, Medical Cannabis Denmark, Schroll Medical/Aphria, and Spectrum Cannabis Denmark (part of Canopy Growth) are hoping to gain approval for bulk manufacturing licenses.
Denmark is a European Union state, and firms situated there can export to the bloc, which with a population of 700m has the potential to be the world’s largest market, according to cannabis intelligence researchers.
The country expects to begin cross-border shipments to strategic European Union states later this year.
Medicinal marijuana patients in Denmark currently rely on expensive imports, so supplying the domestic market is key, but the real boon for producers is using the country as a base to serve enormous markets such as Germany, France and the UK.
Rikke Jakobsen, CEO of Cannabis Denmark, a nongovernmental organization, told MB Daily a bulk manufacturing license is a key hurdle any company must overcome before commencing domestic sales and exports.
“Every company needs to deliver products to the Danish market before they can export,” she said.
A further step in the chain of supplying Danish consumers is authorisation to be an intermediate product manufacturer of medical marijuana.
Aurora Nordic, CannGros Aps, Spectrum Cannabis and Stenocare are the firms who have achieved this approval so far.
On January 1, 2019, an executive order to begin bulk cannabis exports from Denmark went into force, but no firm as yet has satisfied the regulatory requirements.
Medicinal cannabis patient numbers rose from 411 prescriptions for 227 patients in the first quarter of 2018 to 1,329 prescriptions for 765 patients in the fourth quarter.
The Danish parliament launched a four-year medical cannabis pilot programme, also on January 1, designed to give patients better access to treatment with marijuana products. It has made monitoring the use of medical cannabis products easier, and created a safer industry for both entrepreneurs and patients, said lawyers from Njord law firm in Denmark.
Furthermore, a parallel development programme allows companies to provide products to the pilot programme, ensuring the Scandinavian territory is one of the few countries in Europe to allow the domestic production of cannabis for medical use.
A domestic success story in cultivator Stenocare has emerged in the last year, as the Scandinavian region welcomes interest from growers and distributors in Canada, London and the US, all looking to exploit the European market.
Licenses are required for firms wishing to legally cultivate cannabis for medical purposes, and potential distributors must also apply to the Danish medical regulator to have their products added to the list of medicines that can be dished out domestically.
The only entities legally able to receive the products are pharmacies, hospitals, and other manufacturers with the same licenses.
In a similar vein to other areas of Europe, exports are under strict supervision, and it is only legal to export to two countries from Denmark; the usual suspects Canada and the Netherlands.
Denmark’s Stenocare is currently only European firm in the world’s 13 leading cannabis companies, according to analysts at Markets and Markets. That group includes three American firms, one Israeli producer and eight Canadian companies.
In October, Stenocare triggered a stock market charge as investors flocked to buy into its shares on their debut, ramped up by enthusiasm for the therapeutic benefits of its products. The firm was the first European cannabis company to go public with an Initial Public Offering (IPO)
The stock nearly quadrupled in price to hit a high of 33.50 Danish crowns in early trade, valuing the company at more than 200 million crowns ($30 million). The IPO had priced shares at 8.80 crowns.
The company, only launched in 2017, announced at the end of November it had received its second batch of medical cannabis oil, imported from its strategic partner CannTrust Inc. in Canada, ensuring it was on target to hit patient demand.
Since the products were introduced on the Danish market in September 2018, the oil products have been prescribed to patients with multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and nausea caused by treatment with chemotherapy.
Stenocare is pumping the funds into the creation of a major cultivation facility project in Denmark, but now has competition in the form of London manufacturer Indiva.
On November 21, Indivia struck a $2.6m deal with AEssense Europe, a subsidiary of a California-based hydroponics provider, to acquire a medical cannabis cultivation licence in Denmark. AEssense Europe received its license from the Danish Medicines Agency on January 12, 2018.
Through the partnership the pair plan to construct an indoor grow facility, and sites in Denmark have been identified to begin construction of a 1,000 square foot research lab as part of the production facility, with ample expansion room to create facilities of such scale as to be able to serve Danish patients as well as the European market with cannabis products.