Should Synthetic Cannabinoids Be The Chosen Path For The European Cannabis Industry?

Reading time - 8 minutes - October 5, 2021

Plato: “necessity is the mother of invention”

The world is constantly evolving, twisting and turning. Each year there is a new invention, a new way of doing things, a new idea on the horizon. Within every industry – be it social media, clothing or cannabis – innovative individuals are constantly coming up with better ideas that could turn the entire industry upside down. Perhaps this is the case with synthetic cannabinoids? With cannabis growing becoming more and more prevalent in Europe, as governments are slowly beginning to accept the long-banned plant, fresh ideas for boosting weed growth are needed. The industry has just begun, but which way will it go? Today we’ll be looking deep into the world of synthetic cannabinoids, and how they may or may not help the European cannabis industry. Let’s do this. 

European Cannabis Industry 

Europe was once an old-fashioned continent, full of old-imperialist countries that wanted things to go back to how they used to be. To go back to when they owned the entire world. Although, to a certain extent, Europe is still like this. However, the difference now is that certain countries – like Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland – have grown up and have decided to welcome the future in. Europe is slowly but surely beginning to open their arms to cannabis. That’s not to say that cannabis is legal both recreational and medically in all European countries; we’re still quite a distance from that. But medical cannabis is certainly becoming legalized in the majority of European countries now.  In fact, according to Pharmaletter, Europe’s legal cannabis market is predicted to reach a worth of 3.2 billion euros by 2025. 

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Growing Cannabis In Europe

The increase in medical cannabis is staggering and, funnily enough, one of the countries that is leading the charge is…wait for it… the UK. Yes. That’s right. The United Kingdom exports 44.9% of the world’s medical cannabis, yet they still don’t allow for recreational marijuana. It’s crazy, isn’t it? Well, as always, the UK is led by money, and when they see an opportunity to make some, they pounce. In fact, it’s been known that California cannabis growers have been brought from the UK due to their expertise. 

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It’ll be no surprise to anyone that European weather conditions aren’t exactly the best in the world. Long and hot days in the summer, and short and cold days in the winter, are not the ideal conditions for cannabis to grow. Oddly enough, it’s exactly these conditions that are required to grow hemp fibre. Business CANN writes:

“Europe’s temperate climate is great for growing hemp fibre. Europe’s long summer days help hemp stalks grow tall before its rapidly-shortening autumn days produce small terminal flowers at the top of each stalk. These small flowers divert very little energy away from the hemp plant’s production of long, strong fibres.”

However medical and recreational cannabis is a different story. They require consistently to grow to the best of their abilities. The buds, which make up the cannabis which is smoked or vaped with a dry herb vape, need consistently long days so they’re able to grow untampered with. Ultimately, Europe is not the ideal location to grow cannabis – medicinal or recreational. So here lies the problem. 

The Problem With The European Cannabis Industry

As previously mentioned, the problem is that the best cannabis requires tropical weather conditions. Long hot consistent days, not bipolar-like European weather. Therefore, to counteract this, Europe is forced to create fake-weather conditions through technology. This includes artificial lights, greenhouses, heaters and wind fans. This helps to create the right temperature, light and wind – and a level of consistency – that is needed to grow the best cannabis. However, this costs a great deal to maintain. Weather costs nothing, but fake weather costs a lot. Therefore, will the world begin to turn to countries outside of Europe for their cannabis import. Continents like Africa, Asia and the Americas have far better weather conditions to grow marijuana and unless Europe solves this problem, the European cannabis industry could be done for. But when there’s a will, there’s a way. And in comes synthetic cannabinoids at the rescue. But what are they and should Europe use them?

What are Synthetic Cannabinoids?

If you type synthetic cannabinoids into google then a lot of random stuff will come up. Spice, which is a horrible legal version of cannabis that you can purchase in the UK, is technically a synthetic cannabinoid. However, that’s not what we’re discussing today. What we are discussing is a type of cannabinoid that is created without the expense of fake-weather, and without the need for tropical conditions. A type that could perhaps save the European cannabis industry.

What Does Synthetic Mean? 

Synthetic literally just means a substance that is ‘made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product’. Thanks Wikipedia. With Spice, it’s made to try and replicate cannabis, whilst using special chemicals that haven’t been yet illegalized by the UK government. However, the result from this is that the substance hasn’t been tested and can subsequently make people very ill. However, synthetic substances can also be the likes of sweeteners in food, or in soft drinks. For example, whilst diet coke claims to not have sugar, it instead uses artificial sweeteners, which are essentially synthetic sugars. You see this in lots of foods. Synthetic substances can make production a lot cheaper, whilst also sometimes allowing brands to advertise certain positives to their products by not containing the original version of whatever they’ve decided to synthesize. 

What are Cannabinoids? 

Cannabinoids are what make the cannabis plant what it is. There are over 100 cannabinoids within the cannabis plant, and the most prominent are THC and CBD. These are the most spoken about, but there are lots more. CBD is used mostly in medical cannabis, whilst THC is used both medically and recreationally for it’s well known ‘high effects’. It’s these cannabinoids and various combinations of them that are used to treat people around the world for a plethora of health conditions. If Europe were able to synthetically make cannabinoids safely, properly and cheaply, then they’d be able to avoid any of the orthodox growing processes. 

Precision Fermented Cannabinoids 

Precision fermented cannabinoids, or synthetic cannabinoids, are made without any plant material. It means that not only is weather no longer important, but also companies will no longer need to be concerned about the laws of THC percentage inside cannabis buds. Technically, it’s illegal to have cannabis buds that contain anything over 0.2% THC. But without there being any cannabis bud, or cannabis plant, the cannabinoids can exist alone legally. Companies in America and Europe are beginning to bring these PFC’s to the market. They are creating synthetically made CBG/A. Now, don’t worry, we’ll avoid getting too technical here. Essentially CBG/A is a cannabinoid that is like the mother of THC and CBD. It’s where those smaller cannabinoids come from. If you make CBG/A, then you make THC, CBD and other important cannabinoids. 

Whilst this process of creating CBG/A is currently quite pricey, scientists believe that in a few years it could be cheaper than growing and creating it naturally. In fact, in a few years, PCF or synthetic cannabinoids could storm the market and the weather needed for growing cannabis will be a thing of the past. It’s the same way the coca cola no longer uses the Kola nut, it instead uses a cheaper synthesised alternative. 

synthetic cannabinoids

Is This A Good Thing?

So, if Europe decides to put all of its energy and time into synthetic cannabinoids, it may well save their cannabis industry and make them a lot of money. But, is this a positive thing? Well, of course financially this could be huge for Europe. Without the need to create expensive fake weather conditions, but instead use synthetic cannabinoids, the cannabis industry could boom and keep booming. Furthermore, the money and research behind synthetic cannabinoids could benefit the charge of cannabis legalization around the world. Before recently, the issue with weed was that the research was so minimal, but now everyone seems to be turning their heads towards cannabis – even big business. As we all know, laws often follow money, not the other way round. 

However, on the other side, there are some negatives. It’s unfair that countries that naturally have the weather conditions to grow cannabis, will now be beaten by the more wealthier nations and their ability to create a pretend version of a plant that has been part of these indigenous cultures for centuries. It will be another example of the western world taking advantage of the less wealthy nations. In addition, the cannabis plant is a beautiful entity in its purest form. It would be unfortunate if cannabis stopped growing around the world, and all of the money went into synthetic cannabinoids. Perhaps there would one day be a time where purchasing pure cannabis buds could be physically impossible.

But what do you think? Should synthetic cannabinoids be the chosen path for the European cannabis industry or not?

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