The UK is the primary driver of new growth in Europe’s medicinal cannabis market, with sales driven by “unusually high” consumption volumes on a per-patient basis.

According to a new report from cannabis data and intelligence firm Prohibition Partners, almost 63,000 UK patients are forecast to be using the medicine by the end of 2024, generating €240m (A$391m) in sales.

The average UK patient will consume €3,811-worth (A$6,215) of medicinal cannabis per year, or €318 (A$518) per month. 

Despite having the largest market and patient population in Europe, in Germany the average patient will consume only €1,563 (A$2,549) per year, or €130 (A$212) per month. 

Prohibition Partners said average prices per gram of dried medicinal cannabis flower or millilitre of oil are lower in the UK than in Germany, “so the primary factor contributing to this staggering 144% difference in spend is an even larger divergence in consumption volumes”.

Senior analyst Lawrence Purkiss added: “The comparatively high per-patient consumption rates in the UK are at least in part a consequence of the fact that the market is entirely private and self-paid. 

“The financial incentives within the system are geared towards high prescription volumes, unlike in Germany where at least 50% of patients have their medical cannabis costs reimbursed under public healthcare.”

Although the medicine was legalised in the UK in November 2018 and is technically available on prescription through the National Health Service, patient access is almost exclusively facilitated by private clinics. 

Co-founder and CEO of Prohibition Partners Stephen Murphy said supply-chain restrictions and costs mean patients “often opt for volume over frequency”. 

“This underscores the need for continued efforts to streamline regulations and improve affordability to ensure patients’ needs are adequately met,” he added.

Growth in the total number of UK patients is also forecast to soar over the next four years, increasing by 124% to approximately 141,000 by 2028. 

By comparison, in Germany the growth rate is tipped to be just 24%, with approximately 346,000 patients anticipated by 2028 (up from around 278,000 by the end of 2024). 

Together, Germany and the UK will account for 77% of all medicinal cannabis sales and patients in Europe by 2028 (Germany 50%, UK 27%). 

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

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