Legal developments throughout the 21st century have created huge opportunities in the United States cannabis industry, in both hemp and recreational cannabis. Entrepreneurs of all kinds took advantage of these opportunities to create the booming growth seen in the US today. Cannabis is grown in Florida, California, Washington, Oregon, and Kentucky, for both recreational use and for industrial use as hemp. The United States cannabis industry started slowly as states individually decriminalized cannabis growth for medical use, and then took off in 2018 when the 2018 Farm Bill allowed cannabis growth under the regulation that the plant contained no more than 0.3% THC. With all this success domestically, savvy cannabis industry professionals began to look for opportunities elsewhere. While it may or may not be at the same level of success as in the US or Canada, investments in the cannabis industry in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia may be wise choices in the near future!
CANNABIS IN EUROPE
The state of cannabis in Europe is generally positive; cannabis is legal for medical use in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy, with other countries in the process of legalizing medical use. You may be surprised to hear that Germany is the third largest cannabis market by size, following only the US and Canada, and that the UK is the world’s largest exporter of legal medical cannabis.The Netherlands and its capital Amsterdam have long been famous for decriminalized cannabis use in the coffeehouses around the city, but it actually isn’t technically legal! Cannabis remains a controlled substance but its use is generally tolerated. The only issue is that coffeehouses where cannabis is sold and consumed must source their cannabis from outside the country. In many European countries use of cannabis is decriminalized but cultivation is illegal or heavily restricted, making exportation of product to European countries a lucrative business. Decriminalization in recent years has increased optimism about the possibility of full legalization in the future, making Europe a space to keep your eye on!
CANNABIS IN LATIN AMERICA
Latin America is an incredibly diverse continent, so it’s reasonable that cannabis policy is diverse among the countries of Latin America. The standout country in the region is Uruguay, who legalized cannabis in 2013. This move made waves across the continent, spurring other countries to reduce penalties or legalize medical cannabis. Ecuador follows in cannabis policy, with personal use and possession legalized up to 10 grams. The prospect of cheap land in an ideal climate and low labor costs makes Latin America a very promising space in the event that cannabis becomes legal in more countries. In a region long plagued with drug trafficking issues, some countries have legalized medical cannabis to reduce the criminal involvement in cannabis growth and sale. Colombia is one of these countries, and production is estimated to reach up to 40 tons of medicinal cannabis in a year. Other countries following a similar strategy include Mexico, Argentina, Peru, and others. While some aspects may be less stable than Europe, Latin America’s prime growing conditions give it powerful potential for cannabis industry growth.
CANNABIS IN AFRICA
Africa is a massive continent that has struggled with poverty and instability for decades, and some countries see the cannabis industry as an effective tool to reduce poverty. Illegal cultivation is already underway in some areas, so regulation can lead to increased tax revenue for local governments. The leading countries on the continent lie in the southern half of Africa: South Africa, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe have all legalized medical cannabis. Unfortunately, cannabis cultivation in Africa is still in fits and starts. Bureaucratic inefficiency and general instability mean that launching a growth and extraction operation can take twice as long as in other regions.
CANNABIS IN ASIA
Despite cannabis originating in the foothills of the Himalayas in Asia, laws regarding its cultivation and use are some of the strictest in the world. The cultures of South Asia have been using the plant in traditional preparations for thousands of years so these traditional preparations are generally allowed but industrial cultivation is still illegal. Enforcement is generally lax but investment opportunities are low in South Asia. The most promising region in Asia is Southeast Asia, as Thailand legalized cannabis for medical use in 2018. Thailand remains nearly the only opportunity for cannabis growth in Asia as most East Asian countries severely punish possession.
The recent changes in cannabis legislation around the world paint a very promising picture for the future of the industry. With so many choices, the knowledge in this article should make it easy to ensure your next investment is a wise one.