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CBD is largely limited to topical use in the European Union, but a new research report predicts that the CBD market in Europe will take off rapidly within the next few years.

Brightfield Group, an intelligence market firm for the legal CBD and cannabis industries, suggested that the CBD industry will increase by 400% through 2023. The European CBD market was estimated last year at $318 million.

The European Union currently prohibits ingestible CBD products such as tinctures, capsules and food additives. However, the European Food Safety Agency has proposed an amendment to allow CBD in ingestible products and it could pass by the end of the year.

 “CBD is just starting to take hold in Europe, with both product availability and consumer awareness still quite limited. This is a great opportunity for developed brands to enter and expand through Europe with far less competition than we’re seeing in the U.S.,” said Bethany Gomez, Managing Director at Brightfield Group. “It’s a challenging legal environment to operate in, but impending regulatory changes are likely to smooth the way for significant mid-term growth.”

The United Kingdom and Austria are the two largest CBD markets in Europe and currently make 25% of the total market in Europe, with a combined $80 million in sales. However, Germany is expected to be a key player in the market and its growth is anticipated to outpace that of other countries in the EU. Spain and Switzerland are also creating and improving upon regulations regarding CBD product quality, which could result in significantly greater sales through increased consumer confidence.

Public opinion around CBD usage is generally favorable in Europe. The Netherlands is a prime example, with 65% of residents supporting full legalization of CBD and cannabis.

But while early signs are promising, Gomez advised potential investors in the market to not expect overnight miracles.

 “CBD is currently proliferating through a patchwork of widely different regulations throughout Europe which has made it a very strange and piecemeal market,” she told Rolling Stone. “However, as the EU gives more continent-level regulations we expect this bumpy road to smooth and a more rational framework to develop, but this growth will be incremental in nature.”

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