According to Euromonitor International, legal cannabis generated USD38 billion globally in 2021 and is anticipated to reach USD90 billion by 2026. The US dominates the global cannabis market, generating 81% total value share in 2021. At the same time, European countries account for 8% share of worldwide value following Canada with 9%. Poland is responsible for 8% value share of European countries, which is less than 1% globally. Even with this percentage, it ranks ninth in the global cannabis market in 2021. In Poland, adult-use is prohibited by law, medical cannabis is only legal with a prescription, while CBD is freely available.
Opportunities and risks
The Polish cannabis market is in its initial stages and offers high growth opportunities from its current low base. The market quadrupled from PLN210 million in 2019 to PLN900 million in 2021. This is expected to more than double to reach PLN2.2 billion by 2026.
In Poland, over 2.3 million people consumed cannabis both legally and illegally as of 2021. Illicit users, who purchase cannabis on the black market, account for more than 60% of all consumers. Additionally, the Polish Pharmaceutical Chamber estimates that the potential number of medical cannabis users could reach 300,000, while this figure remains negligible and amounts to just 1,500 in 2021. Therefore, the consumer base of legal cannabis offers significant growth potential. Nevertheless, the number of legal cannabis users (both medical and CBD) is expected to reach 1.3 million by 2026 due to the dynamics and limitations addressed in the following paragraphs.
Adult-use, commonly known as recreational cannabis, is currently illegal in Poland. Outside of the medical system, possessing, consuming and trafficking of more than 0.2% THC-content cannabis is a criminal offence governed by the Act on Counteracting Drug Addiction. The sale of THC-containing cannabis, as well as any act of supply or trafficking, is punishable by 5-12 years of jail depending on the scale and the offender’s intent to profit. Adult-use cannabis decriminalisation is limited, and its further development is questionable.
At the same time, Polish authorities are significantly focusing on even small discrepancies of the legalised THC percentage, which has resulted in bans on product import, penalties for businesses and delays in delivery.