Denmark’s ambitious medical cannabis program is being stymied by the CannTrust scandal and price issues as new figures show patient numbers flat-lining.
Canadian firm CannTrust has been hounded by the authorities and the markets after an ‘illegal growing operation’ was discovered in one of its domestic cultivation facilities. Shortly after this discovery it emerged that CannTrust’s partner in Denmark, StenoCare, had sold some of these illegal buds to its patients – and CannTrust has since ceased the sale and shipment of all cannabis products.
The impact of this in the Danish market will be most readily felt in the third quarter, whilst the Marijuana Business Daily website reports that price issues have had an impact on the success of the programme, to date.
Figures from the Danish Health Authority show that in the second quarter, 1,844 cannabis prescriptions were redeemed by 1,045 patients, compared to 1,765 prescriptions for 1,007 patients in quarter one. Rikke Jakobsen, CEO of Cannabis Denmark, a nongovernmental organization said he believed ‘pricing and a the lack of competition’ for the sluggish growth.
He told Marijuana Business Daily: “We saw the explosive increase in prescriptions when the oil from CannTrust was introduced on the Danish market in Q4 2018. But quickly we also found out that patients had a hard time to pay when they reached the limit for reimbursement.”
Under the country’s medical cannabis scheme, prescriptions are reimbursed at a rate of 50%, up to 10,000 krone ($1,500) per year, whilst terminally ill patients receive full reimbursements.
Swimming in Danish Flowers
When the CannTrust scandal broke over summer StenoCare said the knock-on effect would be a ‘temporary shortage of medical cannabis products to the Danish market’, reports Reuters.
Denmark is hoping domestic production will eventually replace imports and as of September, 34 companies in Denmark had permits to cultivate cannabis, including a number of Canadian growers such as; Aurora Cannabis, Aphria, ICC International Cannabis, The Green Organic Dutchman and Canopy Growth.
Mr Jakobsen expects price and supply issues will be eased when these producers become operational. “Danish patients will be swimming in domestically cultivated cannabis flowers within a year,” he said.
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