Frankfurt-based firm Cansativa has become the first European company to import medical cannabis from Australia after receiving a shipment from Little Green Pharma.

Germany is the largest market in Europe for medical marijuana and it has been totally reliant on imports to meet increasing demand among patients. Earlier this year, it launched a pilot scheme that will see Aurora, Aphria, and Demecan cultivate 10,400 kg of cannabis in Germany over the next four years.

Yet that is nowhere near enough to meet spiralling demand, so imports will continue to dominate the industry for at least another five years. Cannabis has primarily been shipped to Germany from The Netherlands and Canada, but Cansativa is keen to branch out.

Earlier this year, it became the first German company to receive the authorization to import medical cannabis from South America. Now it has turned to Australia through the deal with Little Green Pharma.

“Our new partner in Australia helps us to tackle the growing supply problems in the German market and secure the amount of deliveries necessary to meet the increasing demands by the patients,” said Benedikt Sons, co-founder of Cansativa. He added that it will help ensure security of supply for German patients.

Australia’s medical cannabis cultivation sector is very much in its formative stages. It amended the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 to permit medical marijuana research and cultivation in February 2016.

Individual states then had to agree to a law change, and Victoria became the first to legalize medicinal cannabis in April 2016. Some states are yet to permit it.

Exports of medicinal cannabis were legalized in February 2018. The domestic patient base is still small, so being able to export allows producers to have the scale to increase production and make efficiency savings. Only concentrates are permitted for export, as companies cannot ship cannabis flower.

This is the first time an export to Europe has taken place, so it is a significant milestone for Australia’s budding industry. Uruguay, Canada and the Netherlands all permit cannabis exports, while Israel will soon join the party, but Australia is planning to take them on in a bid to become the world’s number one exporter of medicinal cannabis.