Marijuana Executives See European Market Booming in a Few Years

(Bloomberg) -- The legal-cannabis trend is about to take on a Continental flavor, according to executives with some of the biggest marijuana companies in Canada.

The weed honchos expect Europe and its 500 million inhabitants will be open for business in just a few years. Medical marijuana is already legal in a number of European Union countries, a move that has been a stepping stone for full legalization in Canada and some U.S. states. The addition of Europe to the red-hot legal-pot market could lead to billions of dollars in new sales that could disrupt industries such as pharmaceuticals, alcohol and tobacco.

Bruce Linton, chief executive officer at Canopy Growth Corp., expects England to have a fully developed pot market, on par with what Canada has today, within five years.

“Europe is a big deal,” according to Linton, who told a cannabis investors conference Tuesday in London that all points of the compass are in play.

Linton’s company already has a presence in 11 countries, including Denmark, Germany and the Czech Republic. Those operations in the medical-marijuana market can add up. Business from about 1,000 German pharmacies contributed roughly 10 percent of the company’s sales in the last quarter, Linton said.

Sebastien St. Louis, CEO of Hexo Corp., foresees legal recreational marijuana in the U.K. as soon as three years from now. That’s quick enough for Europeans to get in on the surging cannabis market, which has pushed Hexo to a $1.2 billion market capitalization.

“Europe isn’t missing out yet,” said St. Louis, who estimates the EU market could be worth $110 billion annually. “If they don’t move on this in the next two to three years, they will be.”

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