It’s only a matter of time until the rest of America legalizes cannabis. On one level, it’s what many deem a moral issue, and an issue of personal liberties. States and companies are slowly getting the idea that cannabis is not nearly as damaging as they thought. Furthermore, the Farm Bill released a year ago was a vital factor for legalization. However, the other important is one of economics and industry.

Companies dealing with cannabis in America have been growing significantly in the last few years and will continue to do so. A multi-billion dollar industry, this plant is slowly leaving its mark on the US economic landscape. However, analysts predict that Europe is next in line and that the result there will be much greater.

Europe is, of course, fragmented regarding marijuana and cannabis laws. Places like the Netherlands and Portugal are famously lax when it comes to its laws – the latter completely decriminalizing possession of any drug for personal use, while the former allowing the possession of up to five grams of marijuana. The Netherlands also allows smoking within specialized bars and coffee shops. However, other countries in Europe, like Belarus and Hungary, completely forbid the possession, usage, and sale of cannabis. Hungary specifically makes almost no distinction between heroin and cannabis, as far as their legality is concerned.

However, almost the entirety of the EU has legalized medical cannabis and hemp products. This lead to the creation of an industry that is valued at $400 million. Of course, this isn’t much when compared to America’s $10.4 billion, but the core takeaway here is – potential.

Just as the US and Canada have begun their legalization process with medical cannabis and simpler legislation, so too will Europe most likely follow suit.

While it is highly likely that the EU will follow in North America’s footsteps when it comes to cannabis, it is also highly likely that the value of the related industry will be greater. Simply put – the EU has twice the population of the US and Canada have combined.

The medical cannabis market especially shows great potential. Namely, the EU spends around $2.2 trillion every year on healthcare expenditures, of which a solid piece can go towards cannabis.

Investors would be wise to keep an eye on EU legislation and laws, and to be ready to jump when the opportunity presents itself.