What’s the biggest challenge advisors face when trying to understand risk in this space?

A general, not Austria-specific, remark is that companies engaged in the production or distribution of cannabis
need to ensure an additional level of security when cannabis is in transit. Whether it is the product moving from the supplier to the retailer or from the retailer to the consumer, the product is vulnerable to in-transit theft which could result in black market selling.

It might seem obvious, but product tampering is one of the biggest risks impacting companies engaged in the production or distribution of cannabis. Not only do products have to meet compliance standards (determined by the country/location where the business operates), but a product that has been tampered with can result in physical harm to customers. Aside from the obvious health dangers to consumers, a tampered product could also result in a damage to the company’s overall reputation.

Generally, regulators are not turning a blind eye when it comes to ensuring that cannabis companies are compliant. Maintaining compliance with industry regulations can make or break a cannabis business.

Medicinal cannabis is permitted in Austria under certain conditions. Despite this, there are still some issues with medicinal cannabis. Since the dried flowers of the cannabis plant are not legal in Austria, patients can only receive tablets, oils or creams as their prescribed medication.

Furthermore, doctors and insurance companies are still sceptical and often do not wish to prescribe or cover the costs of cannabis products as a treatment drug.

Due to the increasing legalisation of CBD products, these products are moving into the legal mainstream. Largely through positive press reviews, and hemp trade fairs and conferences about cannabis contribute to the fact that cannabis and products extracted from cannabis are losing their infamous image and are seen more as lifestyle products.

In Austria there are an increasing number of new CBD shops opened which are also moving away from the “weed image” and positioning themselves towards premium and wellness.