The ​Uncharted Legalized International Cannabis Industry

Countries involved estimated to make large profit


This green rush has gone global.

Recent market research provided by Brightfield Group, a firm which focuses on the legal cannabis industry, reports that the global cannabis market has reached $7.7 billion in 2017, and will reach $31.1 billion by 2021. This is a compound annual growth of 60%. Markets for cannabis are developing in multiple countries; the largest are Canada and the United States, as they will consist of over 86%. Another 12% of the market includes some European countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.
Australia and Israel are both exploring the pharmaceutical aspects of cannabis for future regulation.

As cannabis becomes widely accepted and proven to be beneficial for a variety of health conditions. Due to supported medical research that shows benefits for a variety of conditions, it is expected that related goods will gain legalization all around the globe. Many countries, including the United States, are in the process of creating relevant laws pertaining to this “uncharted market.”

Prior to 2015, most medical marijuana programs outside of North America had sales of less than $3 million per year. By 2021, a dozen countries will have viable medical marijuana markets, and six will have viable recreational marijuana markets as well. The most accepted products globally are high in CBD and low in THC content.(1) These are some of the current legislation trends around the world:

Regulation is in the Works

Canada is acting as the forerunner in cannabis cultivation and branding. By 2021, the Canadian cannabis market is expected to reach $5.7 billion. (2) Parliament is likely to
pass the proposed Cannabist Act, which determines the rules of cannabis use and
production as of 2018. Public health and safety is Canada’s main focus which they
pursue by providing strict regulations of cannabis businesses and government run
facilities. Each province will be able to govern their own sales and distribution laws
(3). Canada’s actions regarding legislation may lead as example to other countries
delving into the industry.

One Canadian company that already has a foot in the international market is
called Tilray, A Good Manufacturing Practice, or GMP certified cannabis production company that began in Canada in 2014. In 2016, Tilray began legal export of cannabis to Europe and to Australia for medical research. As of 2017, Tilray has gained a license to cultivate in Portugal to make products for European pharmacies, and distribute to Chile and Brazil. (4)
In May of 2016, Germany put into place a limited medical cannabis program only for people with severe illnesses. In January of 2017, a bill to allow medical cannabis to those with a physician’s permission, passed unanimously by the German Parliament. These patients in need of cannabis are now able to receive their medicine imported from Canada by licensed
cannabis producers such as Peace Naturals and Aurora Cannabis Enterprise, Inc. under
the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). Pedanios Pharmaceuticals works with Aurora to import some of the legalized products to Germany. (5)

In the Netherlands, cannabis is not officially legal, but it is tolerated. Sold in coffeeshops, adults may purchase and consume cannabis, police won’t generally take action against it. On January 1, 2001, the Office for Medicinal Cannabis (OMC, 6) was established, which is a licensed cannabis production company that controls all cultivation, sales, imports and exports of medicinal cannabis in the Netherlands. It is a monopoly that attempts to prevent illegal drug use. Exports are permitted to only Germany, Finland, and Italy for now, but
with hopes of expanding the market internationally. (7)

Spain has entered into the cannabis industry through a partnership between the
already established Alcaliber S.A. and Canopy Growth Corporation. Since 1973,
Alcaliber has been industrially focused in supplying raw material to many parts of the
world, exporting 80% of goods. (8) Canopy Growth was one of the first companies to go
public, and has since made huge steps toward creating a global industry by bringing companies together in collaboration (9). There are not strict regulations in Spain; however, cannabis is able to be purchased by adults from clubs and enjoyed in a private settings. While cultivation is currently illegal, the contribution cannabis has made in the Spanish economy is hoped to persuade politicians to legalize it which will generate billions of Euros. (10)

In August of 2016, the Swiss Federal Health Office legalized one cannabis strain called Fedora, also sold as CPure, as a tobacco substitute. This organic low-level THC strain is provided by BioCan AG, known as a hemp pioneer of Switzerland. Because BioCan is able to control their products from start to finish, they are able to provide a consistent and quality goods. Though the products are only available in Switzerland, BioCan has the intentions of entering the international market. (11) Even with the legalization of this strain, policies on the substance have not changed, so law enforcement may still take action.

Meanwhile, Australia and Israel work towards researching cannabis and its medicinal properties. According to the Australian Cannabis Industry Association ACIA, the only national trade association, the growth of the cannabis industry will provide considerable economic activity, create thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenues in Australia. (12)

Their goal is to change outdated laws that consider cannabis to be of no medical benefit by providing researched proof that cannabis should be legalized. The Australian government allows medical cannabis to be prescribed by a professional, qualified doctors. The Office
of Drug Control and Therapeutic Goods Administration regulate the cultivation and manufacturing permits of medical cannabis (13). MedReleaf, a licensed Canadian medical  cannabis company, has received permission by the Australian Office of Drug Control to export medical cannabis over to Australia. (14) A variety of well known cannabis  businesses from around the globe work with AusCann, a medical cannabis provider in Australia, to research, produce and provide products for patients. Fundacion Daya is a non-profit organization that partners with AusCann. Together they started the only licensed grow in Chile.

Phytoplant is a Spanish company which focuses on cultivation research and development. A third partner called Zelda Therapeutics provides cannabis for medical trials in Australia. (15)

In Israel, the team working to create a sustainable global cannabis market includes iCAN;
“Our Mission:​ to take local knowledge and products to the legal, global cannabis markets”
ICAN works with a variety of companies to ensure products from start to finish, introducing them on a world-wide media called Cannatech. Ci Therapeutics, Endo CRO and Steep Hill collaborate with iCAN to research, develop and lab test cannabis to create quality medicinal products for the area. (16)

As the knowledge of potential medical benefits of cannabis is amplified, laws that previously prohibited all use of cannabis are beginning to change, allowing cultivation, consumption and international trade. Multiple countries strive towards legalization and are entering into this budding market allowing incredible economic growth for all countries involved. As cannabis continues to prove itself as one of fastest growing world-wide businesses. This green rush has gone global.


1. Brightfield Group