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Medical cannabis

Denmark is building Europe’s leading ecosystem for medical cannabis

Medical cannabis is an emerging industry that offers new research opportunities, economic benefits and potential treatment options for patients. Since the launch of the Danish medical cannabis pilot program on 1 January 2018, the Danish ecosystem has attracted significant international investment, partnerships and attention from researchers.

Patients and their doctors are actively exploring ways of incorporating medical cannabis into treatment options, while academic and clinical researchers are exploring the efficacy of medical cannabis to treat a range of conditions for which there is initial evidence of potential benefits. 

In May 2021, a majority of the political parties in the Danish parliament agreed to adjust the trial program to bring clarity to the industry while allowing doctors and patients to gather additional data and evidence on the efficacy of medical cannabis.

Under the agreement, doctors and patients are able to access cannabis products through the trial program for an additional four-year period as well as through magistral preparations at specialised pharmacies and through pharmaceutical approved products under general pharmaceutical conditions. The cultivation, production and export of medical cannabis will be enshrined in a permanent framework by the end of the trial program. 

Medical cannabis pilot programme

Read more about the medical cannabis pilot programme 

Medical cannabis as an emerging Life Sciences sector

Denmark is an international powerhouse in the pharma and advanced agriculture sector and has a well-established framework for public-private partnerships in research in the Life Sciences. The Danish medical cannabis model is based on integration across the entire ecosystem. 

Several of the largest companies in the industry have already set up in Denmark through joint ventures with Danish partners, based on strong but transparent regulations, availability of expertise and experience from both the pharma and horticulture sectors, strong commitment to innovation, sustainability and cutting edge automated production methods and opportunities for growth in the Danish and European markets.   

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Denmark uses an open-ended system with no limits on the number of cultivators, as long as high standards are maintained, and no cap on production volumes. This allows the industry to grow to a European and global scale based on high GACP and EU-GMP standards within a strict medical and pharmaceutical framework.

Fast-track development scheme to set up quickly 

The rules establishing a medical cannabis pilot programme included a special development scheme that provides licenses to grow and handle cannabis to develop medical cannabis based products. This fast-track development scheme allows companies to set up quickly while innovating and developing sustainable cultivation techniques and business models.

As of mid-2021, over 40 companies have been granted permission to cultivate and handle medical cannabis as long as high standards of quality are maintained. Once companies are sufficiently prepared, moving into full commercial operations require inspections and licencing with and adherence to the highest EU-GMP standards in Europe. 

Read more about the development scheme

Beyond cultivation – the medical cannabis ecosystem

Denmark is on track to be one of the world’s largest medical cannabis producers in Europe with more than 200,000 square meters of cultivation on its way to being built out, all based on high standards of GMP and GACP frameworks. 

Read more about the strengths of the Danish framework for the cultivation of medical cannabis

Building on major investments in EU-GMP cannabis cultivation and production, activities in the sector now include plant breeding and genetics projects, the development of innovative cultivation methods, testing and the development of downstream capabilities in processing, manufacturing and product development. This is the stage where medical cannabis meets the traditional pharmaceutical industry.

Top reason for choosing Denmark for medical cannabis activities 

  • Attractive framework conditions with strong government support for medical cannabis and a transparent regulatory regime. 

  • Strong domestic medical cannabis ecosystem with close collaboration across all parts of the value chain from plant to patient.

  • Access to expertise in pharma production including availability of expertise in developing GMP compliant facilities and processes.

  • Proximity to main EU markets including Germany with excellent infrastructure for exports and transport.

  • Strong plant genetics and breeding ecosystem.

  • A well-funded healthcare system offering partial reimbursement for medical cannabis based products and an efficient retail pharmacy network for product distribution.

  • No medical cannabis production cap or quotas.

  • Access to reliable green power at a low cost.

  • Skilled horticulture and manufacturing labour force, with training modules available to reinforce skills specific to the production of medical cannabis.

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