The European medicinal cannabis market is forecast to be worth €58 billion ($65.6 billion) by 2028, according to a new report from analysts at Prohibition Partners.

The London-based firm hailed a wave of legislative change across the continent and predicted that patient numbers will continue to soar. Its report forecasts that the number of patients in the three biggest European markets – Italy, The Netherlands, and Germany – will rise from 130,000 in 2018 to 225,000 this year.

It believes that the cannabis industry in those three countries alone will be worth €18 billion ($20.4 billion) by 2028. Medicinal marijuana is now legal in 14 countries after the UK, Malta, and Portugal introduced legislation to that effect in 2018.

“The European cannabis market is undergoing a transformative moment, driven by skyrocketing demand,” said Stephen Murphy, co-founder at Prohibition Partners. “This has pushed national governments across the continent into action and Europe is poised to become a hotbed for medicinal development.”

He noted that the UN, the EU and the WHO are all reassessing the legal status of cannabis and that should inspire many countries to relax their laws, paving the way for huge growth across the continent. Most European countries currently rely on imports to fuel demand for cannabis, so there is a huge opportunity there for cannabis producers with a global footprint and a compelling export strategy.

Prohibition Partners said that Italy and Germany will account for the lion’s share of the growth in Europe, but warned that there are a lot more obstacles to overcome in the UK. Patients groups and individuals suffering from pain have been highly critical of NHS guidelines that make it extremely difficult for British doctors to prescribe marijuana to those that need it to treat their conditions.

Prohibition Partners said that a lack of education providers and high costs have impeded patient access to cannabis in the UK. It believes that the industry could enjoy strong growth if NHS doctors are given better guidance on how, why and when to prescribe cannabis.

Right now the black market in Britain is thriving, but Prohibition Partners estimates that a regulated cannabis industry could hit £10 million ($13 million) this year, and break through the £1 billion ($1.3 billion) barrier by 2022 if the considerable obstacles are overcome.

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