European Cannabis Laws: What Is the Latest?

European Cannabis Laws: What Is the Latest?

Pipp Horticulture Vertical Grow Racks at Trichome in Israel

Where Is Cannabis Legal in Europe?

In mid-February, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed into law a medical cannabis legalization measure. It was just the latest in a series of incremental cannabis reforms dotting the European landscape. 

Pipp Horticulture at CanneraldUkraine’s medical cannabis law will take effect later in the summer of 2024; in the meantime, Parliament will draft more specific regulatory language. Imports will be a critical source of the country’s cannabis supply, echoing other European countries’ paths to a legal market.

As the global perspective on cannabis continues to evolve slowly but surely, Europe emerges as a promising frontier for businesses.

With a patchwork of regulatory environments and an increasing acceptance of medical and adult-use cannabis, Europe presents opportunities and challenges for industry stakeholders looking across the pond.

Statista Market Insights places the expected 2024 value of the European cannabis market at US$10.2 billion–with a growth rate on the order of 14.32% over the next five years. 

Tune into Cultivation Elevated Episode 22, while host Michael Williamson sits down with Sia Baneei of Grow Motion, a Swiss cannabis cultivation company, to delve into the intricate world of the European cannabis industry.

For cultivators and retailers who have experienced the dynamic growth of the cannabis industry in the U.S., the European market may be the next big venture. Let’s explore the landscape of the emerging cannabis marketplace in Europe, highlighting the potential for growth, regulatory considerations, and how businesses can position themselves for success in this new terrain.

European Cannabis Laws: An Overview

Europe’s cannabis market is in a state of flux, with countries at various stages of legalization and acceptance.  Nations such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Portugal have made significant strides in cannabis reform, setting the stage for a burgeoning industry. Let’s take a tour. 
Pipp Horticulture at Trichome


Germany made global headlines in late February when the lower house of Parliament legalized adult-use cannabis in a limited capacity, the first legalization measure of its kind for a country of this size in Europe (Germany follows Malta and Luxembourg in legalizing cannabis on the continent). 

The vote clocked in at 407-226, and arrived only after several years of ping-pong between a hardline “no” stance on legalizing cannabis and a willingness to draft actual regulatory language. In 2024, the willingness to open the door to cannabis reform won out.

While cannabis will be legal for those 18 and older (and legal to grow), lawmakers declined to take up a taxed-and-regulated marketplace for now. The legislation does allow for cannabis “clubs,” which will provide a space for up to 500 members to buy cannabis grown at home by other adults. 

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the broader idea in Germany is to “fight the black market” and provide a measure of safety to cannabis use. “Whatever we do, we can’t carry on like this,” he told lawmakers, according to the Associated Press. “You can stick your head in the sand … but we won’t solve a single problem that way.”

Germany came into this year a leader in medical cannabis already, having legalized it in 2017. The country established a government-controlled system for cultivation, prescription, distribution, and imports, creating a significant market for medical cannabis products and associated equipment.

The Netherlands

Known historically for its liberal stance on cannabis, The Netherlands has tended to informally allow the sale of cannabis in coffee shops. In recent years, lawmakers have kicked the tires on plans to regulate the supply chain more formally. 

The state launched a pilot program to legalize the sale of adult-use cannabis  in December 2023, greenlighting coffee shops in the cities of Breda and Tilburg to sell cannabis grown by one of two licensed cultivators.

That marks the second European country to embark on a pilot program. The first country was… 


Switzerland arranged a trial program for adult-use legalization in 2023. The country’s Federal Office for Public Health initially greenlit six pilot projects (three of which are already selling cannabis legally to Swiss citizens). More of those projects are expected as the program picks up momentum.

A federal commission stated in 2023: “Cannabis must be controlled, legally accessible, but not be promoted.” That’s a fine line to walk for small businesses interested in growing an audience and developing a brand.

“The cannabis business in Europe is very, very difficult,” Grow Motion’s Sia Baneei said in a recent Cultivation Elevated podcast episode. Grow Motion is a licensed cultivator in Switzerland’s high-CBD cannabis market. “We live in Switzerland, and the rent for our facility is very, very expensive. That’s why we wanted to get the maximum of our facility and why we made the decision to work on three layers [in a vertical farming room design].”

That’s another challenge that businesses will face in Europe, perhaps more so than in areas in the U.S.: Real estate is at a premium, and industrial space is simply more limited than it is in the rural stretches of, say, the Ohio cannabis market. A mobile vertical racking system can go a long way toward maximizing grow space while maintaining safe and easy access to plants, solving critical needs in cramped quarters. Pipp Horticulture at Cannabor 


Having decriminalized all drugs in 2001, Portugal has taken steps toward a regulated medical cannabis market and is seen as a potential hub for cultivation due to its favorable climate. Companies of all sizes have set up shop in Portugal, using the state as a formidable base of operations for corporate headquarters and cultivation sites. 

As of the end of 2023, the majority party in the federal government was developing a task force to closely look at cannabis legalization prospects. That party is not alone; support for broad legalization measures has increased across the government in recent years. 

Somai Pharmaceuticals founder and CEO Michael Sassano told Business of Cannabis, “Discussions like Portugal’s decision to move forward with studying to legalizing adult-use cannabis and other discussions around legalizing medical cannabis are being taken up by most EU countries more progressively than ever before. Much has to do with the potential U.S. rescheduling to Schedule III and the German descheduling of a narcotic. Global winds are changing fast, and Portugal is still very much at the top of the list as a potential new country moving towards legalizing cannabis”.

The Czech Republic

The Czech Republic announced its intention to legalize cannabis, but that plan does not include any real tax-and-regulate system that would allow sales. The country decriminalized possession for personal use in 2010, meaning that this current plan would effectively reiterate the status quo and apparently add provisions for cannabis use in social clubs. After a show of political support for a regulated market from some political leaders, this “compromise” plan leaves licensed corporations and suppliers mostly on the sidelines. That said, we anticipate more information to come in 2024. 

The lack of a formal market structure will be hotly debated this year. 

“The existence of a commercial and strictly regulated market with licensed growers and stores is a basic prerequisite for the successful reform of anti-cannabis laws, as is evident all over the world – from Colorado to California to Canada or Switzerland and the Netherlands,” CzecHemp manager Lukáš Hurt said in a translated press release. “Thanks to regulation, it is possible to significantly reduce the revenues of the illegal market and at the same time obtain funds for effective drug prevention and education.”


France began a medical cannabis experiment in 2021, offering free products to thousands of patients. The trial program was expected to sunset in the spring of 2024, but for now, the Minister of Health is open to a plan that will gradually transition that arrangement to a more formal (yet still “temporary”)  medical cannabis regulatory structure for the next five years. 

This plan is in flux, so we anticipate learning more soon, but France has shown a willingness to broaden its access and industry sophistication with this news. 

The UK

While not a member of the European Union, the UK has also made strides in step with its neighbors. Following its 2016 departure from the EU, the UK legalized an extremely tightly regulated medical cannabis program; the UK’s National Health Service has not developed this program much further than allowing limited prescriptions.

That said, the industry is livelier in the UK than it might seem; the country ranks among the largest exporters of medical cannabis products in the world. 

Across Europe, the recent shifts towards decriminalization, and even recreational legalization in some jurisdictions, signal a broader change in societal attitudes towards cannabis. 

This evolving regulatory landscape presents a fertile ground for innovation and investment but requires a nuanced understanding of each country’s legal framework.

Navigating Regulatory Complexities

The demand for medical cannabis in Europe is on the rise, driven by an increasing body of research supporting its therapeutic benefits and a growing awareness among the population. This uptick in demand signals a burgeoning market for cannabis-related products and business solutions.

Pipp Horticulture at CanneraldHowever, the path to expansion is not without its hurdles. International treaties and the U.S.’s own complicated relationship with cannabis will complicate any expansion plans for growers or retailers with an eye toward Europe.

The continent’s diverse regulatory landscape means that what works in one country may not apply in another. For businesses looking to enter the European cannabis market, understanding and navigating these regulatory complexities is paramount.

Compliance with local laws and standards for the cultivation, storage, and distribution of cannabis products is critical, underscoring the need for adaptable and compliant solutions. To succeed in Europe, suppliers must tailor their offerings to meet the specific needs and regulations of each market.

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Dispensary Inventory Management: Working With Limited Storage

Dispensary Inventory Management: Working With Limited Storage

Back Room Storage for Dispensaries

How To Manage Inventory in a Dispensary With Limited Space

The Source Dispensary Storage

Balancing the supply and demand of cannabis is a complicated task. On one hand, in many newer U.S. markets, the product essentially sells itself. Flower tends to move fast, and the early days of a business are spent mainly on simply keeping up with customers’ needs. Even in more mature markets, like California or Colorado, demand remains high as prices have fallen through the floor. 

But then there’s the matter of supply: Oversupply can contribute to backed-up inventory in the retail environment. In other cases, limited supply of a particular SKU or genetic profile can push dispensaries into a tight corner. 

What’s a dispensary manager to do?

We covered some of the biggest dispensary inventory management mistakes (and solutions) that your team may face behind the counter. Basic organization of your inventory may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s not always so simple. Your team may encounter difficulty in tracking product availability and technical issues with sales reporting–and thus decreased customer satisfaction the longer that those problems linger. 

Let’s zoom into these problems.

Consider the First In, First Out (FIFO) solution.

Timely Inventory Movement

First In, First Out

The Source Dispensary StorageCreating a FIFO structure to your secured storage area means that the items are retrieved in the order they were stored. This ensures that the oldest items on your shelves are sold from inventory first. 

This approach is beneficial when considering overall dispensary inventory management–and easily overlooked, given the uncertain nature of supply and demand curves. 

Product freshness is crucial, so you don’t want your oldest products to get bumped by newer products, inadvertently leaving you with even older products for the next customer. 

Implementing FIFO ensures that older stock is sold before newer deliveries, reducing the chances of selling outdated or degraded products. Furthermore, FIFO aids in efficient stock rotation, minimizing waste and ensuring a consistent quality of the product offering to customers.

This is perhaps most important with flower, which can degrade in potency and flavor over time. Depending on your market regulations, flower may be kept in airtight jars with humidity control packs or it may be prepackaged in separate containers from the wholesaler. Either way, freshness is paramount, so a solid FIFO structure is critical to keep up with consumer demand. 

READ MORE: Dispensary Storage: What You NEED to Know

But the same idea goes for concentrates and edibles and other products. Keep your concentrates stable by storing them in a cooler environment while adhering to the FIFO concept. Edibles should be moving through your inventory management system swiftly, as you don’t want to run up against expiration dates before you can sell what you’ve got.  

Pro Tip: Set up automatic reordering thresholds within your inventory management system. When stock levels of a particular product fall below a predefined threshold, the system should automatically generate a purchase order and send it to the supplier. This threshold should be carefully calculated based on historical sales data, lead times, and current market trends to ensure products are reordered just in time before stockouts occur.

Just In Time

The Source Dispensary StorageContinuing with the helpful dispensary inventory management acronyms, let’s address Just In Time (JIT) inventory systems.

The JIT approach insists that your team orders stock as close as possible to when it’s actually needed. This reduces the amount of inventory that needs to be stored on-site, freeing up space and reducing the risk of overstocking or product expiration.

Unless your team specifically sought a property that was larger than needed at first (and thus designed for growth), at some point you will run up against a space problem. JIT inventory management may help solve that.

To achieve a JIT system, you’ve got to be able to rely on your suppliers. Again, this is no small task in markets wracked with a volatile supply curve. But establishing clear communication with growers and wholesalers in your market will ensure that you can acquire products quickly and move them through your storage racks with ease.

If you’re already working with that FIFO framework, your racks should be clearly labeled and organized. As new inventory comes in, just in the nick of time, your team should understand right away where it belongs in the stock room.

Related to the JIT concept, consider the strengths of a retail business that focuses on a curated selection of products that meet the preferences and demands of your customer base. Analyzing sales data and customer feedback can help identify high-turnover and high-margin products, allowing dispensaries to work efficiently even when space is limited. No need to invest in low-demand products on a JIT basis; both of these strategies assume that your team is engaged with your customer base and broader market trends.

Secured Storage Is Key

The Source Dispensary Storage

While FIFO addresses the organization and rotation of inventory and JIT acknowledges your literal space constraints, secured storage ensures the physical safety of your team and the compliance of the stored products

Begin with your storage racks and zoom out: Consider all the ways you can optimize your space. By taking a holistic approach to secured storage, dispensaries can safeguard their operations and, inevitably, build trust with customers.

Secured storage systems protect inventory from theft, contamination, or degradation–crucial in maintaining product integrity and compliance with regulatory standards. Incorporating technology solutions like advanced locking mechanisms, surveillance systems, and inventory tracking software (even beyond what is mandated by your regulators) can enhance your secured storage space, ensuring that FIFO and JIT are implemented efficiently.

Conducting regular audits (biweekly or even weekly) of the secured storage area will ensure that all products are accounted for and that the dispensary inventory management systems are functioning as intended. Use those audits as a chance for the staff to re-familiarize themselves with the range of products and brands offered at your store.

Disorganized inventory can lead to numerous operational challenges, impacting customer satisfaction and regulatory compliance. Implementing a systematic approach to inventory management while keeping an eye on the actual supply and demand trends you’re facing is the ultimate goal. 

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5 Best Practices for Your Cannabis Mother Room

5 Best Practices for Your Cannabis Mother Room

Pipp Horticulture Cannabis Mother Room

Be Good to Your Mother(s)

Your indoor cannabis cultivation facility is operating within a highly competitive market. While the point of harvest may seem like the most important link in your production process, you may want to revisit the management of your cannabis mother room. That’s where your business houses its real long-term value. 

The mother room is where your team nurtures the mother plants, which, of course, shape the future of every plant you’ll grow. These mother plants are carefully selected cannabis plants kept in a vegetative state and not allowed to flower. The primary purpose of maintaining these mother plants is to provide a consistent and reliable source of clones or cuttings. These clones are genetically identical to the mother plant, ensuring uniformity in the traits and quality of the plants grown from them, such as potency, flavor profiles, and growth characteristics.

An efficiently managed mother room ensures a steady flow of high-quality clones to fill the other rooms in your facility. 

Your yield and profits begin here.

Mother Room

A successful mother room strategy blends the precision of genetics with the art of cultivation, ultimately developing a shield for your business against the unpredictability of nature. In a market that values both diversity and the reliability of old favorites on the shelf, the ability to sustain and replicate specific cannabis strains with accuracy is invaluable.

So, what goes into a successful cannabis mother room?

A robust mother room operation employs advanced environmental controls, precise nutrient management, and rigorous hygiene protocols to ward off pests and pathogens, ensuring that each clone represents the best possible start for the next generation of plants. We’ll explain five helpful best practices to bear in mind below.

These tips will streamline your team’s cultivation process and cut back on the risk of crop failure. This level of control and efficiency translates into faster turnaround times, higher yield potential, and improved product consistency, ultimately contributing to a stronger market position. 

The success of a commercial indoor cannabis cultivation business is intricately linked to the performance of its mother room.

[#1] Double-Stacked Cannabis Mother Room Racks

Let’s get into the actual layout of your cannabis mother room. How are these plants supported? Where are they located within the room?

More often lately, our team has seen cultivators double-stacking mother plants and maintaining them for shorter lifespans (as opposed to running a single-level layout with plants that might be sustained for longer time periods). Some cultivation businesses might prefer to hold onto mother plants for upward of a year or more, but the shorter lifespan encourages more supple cuttings and a more agile cultivation team in general. This also limits the risk of pest and pathogen spread. 

In a 2023 webinar, Pipp’s Director of Horticulture, Anders Peterson said that double-stacking has proven benefits.

Pipp HorticultureGenerally, I’ll keep my younger mothers on the top level, which is typically a shorter elevation, as far as its height,” he said. “The bottom elevation, which will be taller in height, … can hold my more mature mothers.” 

Maintaining younger mother plants in your cycle balances the diversity of the room and allows for higher quality: We’ve noticed grow teams getting a significant increase in “A-grade” cuttings versus the older mother plants. Double-stacked mother rooms help house additional genetics in a smaller space, allowing you to allocate square footage for flower production.

READ MORE: See how much revenue you could be generating by going vertical!

There’s a balance, of course, in serving the market with tried-and-true genetics that will sell easily and providing dispensaries with more cutting-edge cultivars that might be a bit more experimental or nuanced in their demand curves. A diverse, double-stacked mother room lends some of that flexibility to your business.

PRO TIP: Good ventilation is essential to prevent microclimates within the tiers. Use oscillating fans and ensure your room's HVAC system is capable of circulating air effectively throughout the stacked racks. Proper airflow helps to maintain consistent temperature and humidity levels across all levels, minimizing the risk of mold and pests.

[#2] Optimal Environmental Conditions

Pipp HorticultureYour facility runs on the efficiency of its environmental control system, but you must add a layer of redundancy by personally checking on the actual variables (temperature and humidity, foremost) on a regular basis. Automated systems are fine and increasingly prevalent, but your team should not solely rely on them. The value of the plants in your cannabis mother room is simply too great. Reliable handheld sensors (for variables such as temperature and relative humidity, among others) can be used to double-check and verify the automation and control platform data.

This may go without saying, but it’s worth underscoring the importance of daily touchpoints with your mother plants. In between cuttings, the maintenance of your plants is absolutely critical. 

Keep your mother plants in veg by maintaining an 18-hours-on/6-hours-off lighting schedule. Inspect and clean all light fixtures to ensure optimal output–and do whatever you can to prevent light leaking in from the hallway. In fact, implement a rotation schedule for light bulbs to maintain consistent light intensity and spectrum. 

That point about equipment maintenance is especially important in your mother room. Here’s a quick checklist of items you’ll want your team to manage on a clear, regular basis:Pipp Horticulture

  • Check the efficiency of your ventilation system on a regular basis. Effective air circulation is the backbone of maintaining stable temperature and humidity levels in your mother room, (i.e., maintaining stable genetic lines!) and warding off mold and pests. Change your HVAC filters on a regular basis.
  • Check the sensors in your mother room to ensure accurate temperature and humidity monitoring. This goes back to that idea of redundancy and the human touch; you can’t rely solely on your automated data feeds. To maintain the accuracy of these systems, regular calibration should be part of your maintenance schedule as well. This ensures that your plants are always growing in the ideal conditions they need for optimal health.
  • Check on your airflow system in this room. If your ventilation system is in good shape, your fans will achieve even air distribution for your mother plants, keeping their veg cycles in a state of stasis. If you’re looking to give your plants an extra boost, consider implementing a CO2 enrichment system. This step requires the ability to closely monitor and control CO2 levels to avoid any potential harm to your plants.Pipp Horticulture
  • Establish a consistent watering schedule that’s responsive to the visual cues your mother plants give you. Paying close attention to their appearance and growth stage will guide you in adjusting their water and nutrient intake. 
  • To that end, daily inspections of your mother plants are critical. Be on the lookout for any signs of stress, pests, or disease. Regular pruning not only helps in controlling plant size and shape but also encourages healthy growth.
  • Lastly, do not overlook nutrient management in your mother room. Each strain and individual plant may have its own specific nutritional needs, and that’s paramount to the proper maintenance of the genetic line. By implementing a tailored feeding regimen and regularly testing the soil or hydroponic solution for nutrient content and pH levels, you can adjust your feeding strategy as necessary. Early detection of nutrient deficiencies or excesses, along with prompt treatment, is fundamental in maintaining the health and productivity of your mother plants.

[#3] Strict Sanitation and Hygiene Protocols

Pipp Horticulture Cannabis Mother RoomPerhaps more than any other room in your facility, the sanitation of your cannabis mother room is of critical importance. This is your genetic bank vault, after all.

Set up a daily surface cleaning routine for this room, and keep your team members up-to-date on SOPs. This includes entry protocols (and possibly uniforms and footbaths). 

On that topic: While we all enjoy giving tours to curious news media and to interested stakeholders, you should never tour visitors through a mother room. Allow only a limited number of staff into your mother room. Protect it at all costs!

Use only one pair of pruning shears per mother plant, and don’t cross-contaminate them. The risk of hop latent viroid (HpLVd) is ever-present in facilities, and a pathogen like that could decimate your mothers (and thus your bottom line). Regularly sterilize all pots, trays, and other equipment used in this room. Any equipment relating to the mother room should not be used anywhere else in your facility.

To ensure a sense of uniformity across your plants and across time, develop a pruning schedule to manage plant size and shape. Training team members in proper pruning techniques is crucial to ensure they promote healthy growth without stressing the plants.

That pruning plan leads us to…

[#4] Cloning Procedures and Record Keeping

Pipp HorticultureCloning: where the true magic happens in your facility.

Follow a consistent cloning schedule, and make sure you’re building this schedule on sound reasoning (take your six-inch cuttings and rootings at the right time to maintain plant health). Document all records associated with each plant and its clones. Those records will inform later improvements in your mother room.

Observe the quality of those clones over time. How are they performing as they move through growth cycles? Those plants’ health will help you understand your mother plants’ health. Investigate and address right away any declines in cloning efficiency or quality.

PRO TIP: Implement regular data backup procedures to prevent loss of valuable genetic and cultivation records. Ensure that your digital tracking system has robust security measures in place to protect sensitive information and comply with regulatory requirements.

[#5] Regular Training and Education

Lastly, like most other activities in the cultivation space, work in the mother room is an ongoing education. Encourage your team to stay informed on the latest cultivation and genetic trends in cannabis.

Even in cultivation team meetings that don’t specifically address the mother room on the agenda, try to connect what’s happening in the mother room to broader developments in the business. Make sure that all employees are aware of what genetics you’re maintaining.

Coordination with the flowering team and sales staff is crucial for managing a cannabis mother room; you don’t want to be cutting clones of a cultivar that is not selling, or for a cultivar that is piling up in your finished product storage room. 

Mother rooms dictate the flow of product to the rest of your facility and ultimately to your sales channels.

The mother room team can greatly influence the culture of your business; and promote a culture of shared knowledge across the facility. Make sure that your mother room team is keeping other cultivation teams informed on any changes at the individual mother plant level.

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