Germany is poised to start producing its own medicinal marijuana and the first crop should be ready for patients by the end of next year.

There is a thriving market for medical cannabis in Germany, but it has totally relied on imports from Canada and The Netherlands to meet demand. Plans to introduce a domestic cultivation trade have been mired in red tape, but the government is now set to ensure a local supply.

The German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) has created 13 lots that potential producers can bid for. Each lot is for 200 kilos per year over a four-year period, meaning the total tender is for 10,400 kilos. That seems relatively paltry when you consider the huge amounts being produced in Canada, but German activists will see it as a welcome development.

BfArM said that 79 companies have bid for the 13 contacts, and it will evaluate the bids and whittle them down before awarding the tenders in the second quarter of 2019. The growers should have the first crop ready for patient consumption by the end of 2020.

Germany initially planned to produce 6,600 kilos over four years, but BfArM upped it after assessing the number of patients that require medicinal cannabis.

However, it will still need to import plenty of cannabis to meet demand among patients across Germany. Canadian companies have been piling into this lucrative market and Aura Health Inc. (CSE: BUZZ) has just entered into a letter of intent to buy an 80% stake in German distributor Pharmadrug for €5 million ($5.7 million).

It will pay the first €1 million on Jan. 31, another €1 million on Feb. 28 and the rest by May 31. Aura holds convertible debt that converts to 54% equity of HolyCanna, a cultivation and nursery license holder in Israel. Now that Israel has legalized cannabis exports, it plans to supply Israeli cannabis to Germany via Pharmadrug.

Europe’s medical cannabis market is forecast to reach €58 billion by 2028, but CBD oil could see its momentum halted by plans to classify cannabidiol as a novelty food. Britain’s Food Standards Agency has suggested it will ask trading standards officers across the UK to remove all CBD products from sale while it goes through a novelty food approval process, which could apparently take 12 to 18 months.

It is claimed that Britain’s FSA has pushed the European Food Standards Agency to classify CBD oil and other derivatives as a novelty food too, and it now plans to block sales. These derivatives, with under 0.2% THC, are on sale in pharmacies, health stores and supermarkets across the UK, but they now face a major obstacle and the Cannabis Traders Association is calling on producers to band together and protect the nascent industry.

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