The cannabis field is on the rise. So say the economic data. Many countries are changing their marijuana laws and are thereby turning more tolerant and flexible in this regard. But not only that. The voices calling for further progress are increasingly stronger for they believe it is the best way to fight drug-trafficking while guaranteeing the marketing of quality and safe products. It’d also provide a new source of income. Experts indicate that the global cannabis market generates $7700 million per year, a figure that is expected to rise to $31400 million by 2021, with an annual growth rate of 60%. Some countries, however, seem more prepared than others to move forward.
According to some analysts, pot sales in Germany will grow up to $1,600 million by 2022. This statement is based on the grounds that there are over 691,000 legal users in a country comprising about 82.67 million people.
In 2017, Germany legalized medical marijuana, bringing about an incredible business opportunity that has already triggered the expansion of the market. One pretty peculiar feature of the German market is that slightly more than half of the 20,000 pharmacies selling cannabis-based products trade with import goods while only 8,000 of them sell local products. It will thus be interesting to see whether the trend remains largely the same and they continue to rely on imported marijuana or they finally start selling domestically-cultivated weed.
Cannabis laws in the UK are fairly strict. That's why everyone was shocked when last summer their government decided to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis-based products to their patients, a measure that became effective in October. This decision, which will definitely benefit thousands of patients, comes after the desperate plight of many parents who were denied any kind of help to fight the epileptic fits their children regularly had. It's true, though, that back in 2016, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had already considered using CBD-based products. From that moment on, the consumption of CBD products doubled, rising from 125,000 consumers in 2016 to 200,000 in 2017.
This little country at the foot of the Alps is, to say the least, peculiar, for it is the only European country to sell low-THC cigarettes at the supermarket. The so-called "cannabis light" has to be CBD-rich and cannot contain more than 1% THC. The Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger said that, in 2017, there were 410 registered companies in the country manufacturing and selling cannabidiol (CBD) products. The most important feature of this compound is that, unlike THC, it is not psychotropic, meaning it is viewed more favorably. The combined total of their CBD sales generated approximately $62 million in 2017.
Italy legalized medical marijuana in 2013, as long as its THC content remains lower than 0.6%. Beyond the medical field, though, cannabis laws are very restrictive. Despite all this, analysts believe that the sale of "cannabis light", that is, of low-THC marijuana flowers, could garner approximately $45 million only this year. EasyJoint, one of the companies marketing this light drug, claims to receive an order every 30 seconds, but not only that. Over 130 grow shops already have it on sale. Nowadays they've got an annual production of around 25 tons and 600 acres of fields. Besides, the country is crying out for the legalization of recreational pot. If that occurred, more people could have access to the plant.
Latin America is buzzing with investors and cannabis companies. Countries such as Peru, Chile or Argentina have already adopted laws permitting the legalization of medical weed. But it was Colombia that in 2016, with the celebration of the peace process that put an end to 50 years of war and the implementation of a medical marijuana market, became the country to most extensively acknowledge the freedoms of Colombian citizens. Producing 1 g of pot in Canada costs almost $2 while the tropical climate of Colombia reduces the cost to only $0.6. For this very reason, at least 7 large Canadian companies have invested some $110 million in Colombian subsidiaries in order to guarantee there is enough produce to satisfy the needs of the ever-growing market derived from the legalization of marijuana in the north.
Bob Marley and weed… that's what Jamaica is mainly famous for. Both stand as symbols of the country. At the time of the reggae singer, the U.S. put pressure on Jamaica not to legalize cannabis. However, Jamaican weed is now world-renowned. One of its greatest assets is that it is grown in the wild, under a sunny climate that highly benefits cannabis plants. In fact, several Canadian multinational companies have already settled in the island, forming an alliance that will further enlarge the market of a country with strong cannabis tradition.
When it comes to marijuana, Israel is way ahead. It was in this country that a small group of scientists, under the lead of Dr. Raphael Mechulam, succeeded in isolating THC. Trump himself asked them to stop exporting medical weed to the U.S.; so imagine how powerful they are. They still continue exporting to Puerto Rico, though. It being the first country in the world to have legalized medical cannabis has allowed companies like Tikun Olam and other medical, research and educational institutions to take the lead in innovation, boosting, in turn, the growth of the industry.
This list wouldn't be complete without Canada, one of the two countries (together with Uruguay), and the first country of the G-20, to legalize recreational pot and to establish a regulation referring explicitly to cannabis export licenses. Some important Canadian companies such as Tilray are playing a major part in the international cannabis market, already exporting to over 10 countries. Others, like Aurora Cannabis, one of the main cannabis producers, has just gone public on the New York Stock Exchange, joining a list of successful companies (Cronos Group, Canopy Growth…) that are now making a splash on the U.S. market. With such favorable cannabis laws and excellent scenario, Canada is sure to turn into one of the most important players of the global cannabis market.