More than half of Europeans support cannabis legalization -report

Cannabis plants grow inside the Tilray factory hothouse in Cantanhede, Portugal April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo

April 7 (Reuters) - More than half of the European population support legalization of adult use of cannabis and around 30% of them are interested in purchasing it, according to polling data by industry consultants on Thursday.

Europe's liberal approach could reap multiple financial and economic benefits as seen in the United States, which has witnessed a surge in cannabis use during pandemic-induced lockdowns.

While majority of Europeans support regulated cannabis shops, most do not favor growing the plant at home, according to the report by London-based consultancy Hanway and pot producer Curaleaf International.

The report comes a week after the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill to end the federal ban on marijuana, which has created legal headaches for users and businesses in the states that have legalized it.

"We see the European market as three to four years behind (the U.S.), but it actually looks like Europe may initiate sweeping reform before the United States," said Boris Jordan, executive at U.S.-based Curaleaf.

Many European countries, including Germany, have legalized cannabis for limited medicinal purposes, while others have decriminalized its general use. Malta became the first European country to allow limited cultivation and personal use of cannabis. read more

The European cannabis market is expected to cross 3 billion euros ($3.27 billion) in annual revenue by 2025, up from about 400 million euros last year, according to a report from research firm Prohibition Partners. Germany has been the biggest market in the continent so far.

"There is clear political desire and willingness in Germany to legalize recreational use," Joe Bayern, chief executive officer of Curaleaf, told Reuters.

"Given it (Germany) is the largest economy in Europe, we think it will lead the way and create a domino effect for rest of the continent," Bayern said.

($1 = 0.9166 euros)

Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.