6 Sep

Cannabis: While the US Waits, the World Opens Up

WRITTEN BY Sushree Mohanty

Cannabis legalization is spreading its roots globally. Uruguay was the first country to fully legalize recreational cannabis in 2013. Canada became the second country to legalize marijuana in 2018. Many other countries have followed suit. However, the legality of medical and recreational cannabis varies for different countries. The US still hasn’t made a decision about cannabis legalization.

Thailand promotes medical marijuana products

Last year, Thailand became the first southeast nation to legalize medical cannabis. Thailand is ready to advance its medical marijuana market. According to a Forbes article this week, Thailand removed low-level cannabis and hemp extracts from its list of banned narcotic substances.

As part of the new development plan, Thailand will allow CBD extracts with less than 0.2% THC. Thailand plans to include CBD extracts to make medicine, cosmetics, and food. The country plans to grow its agricultural income through hemp.

Thailand’s medical cannabis market is gaining popularity. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Southeast Asia’s venture capital firm Expara plans to raise $30 million by December to invest in cannabis-related technology.

Canada on track to lead in the cannabis industry

Canada legalized cannabis in 2018. Now, the country is set for “Cannabis 2.0” next month, which is the legalization of cannabis-infused edibles for recreational use. Stay with us to learn more.

Canada leads the cannabis industry. The country introduced the four major marijuana players that dominate the industry. Canopy Growth (CGC) (WEED) is the largest marijuana company. Constellation Brands (STZ) invested in the company. Canopy Growth generated a 94% increase in recreational dried cannabis sales in the first quarter of 2020. The company also saw a 209% YoY increase in international medical cannabis revenues. Canopy Growth plans to launch new products after Cannabis 2.0 with Martha Stewart. The stock has gained 12% in September.

Aurora Cannabis (ACB) has a strong international presence. The company generated strong revenue growth in the third quarter. Canadian consumer and medical sales rose 37% and 8%, while international sales rose 40%. The company expects to generate net revenues of 100 million Canadian dollars and 107 million Canadian dollars. The company is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter results on September 12. Aurora Cannabis has risen 6.5% in September.

Aphria (APHA), a new entry in the marijuana market, focuses more on medical cannabis. The company did well in the recent quarter. Aphria’s revenues for adult-use marijuana rose 158% YoY. The company also reported a positive EBITDA of 0.209 million Canadian dollars. The stock has risen 9.4% in September.

With Canada hitting the second wave of legalization, the companies are expanding their edible business. The FDA still challenges the use of CBD-based products in the US. The FDA could hinder some of the companies if they plan to launch their products in the US.

What is Mexico’s stance on cannabis?

While Mexico decriminalized the possession of a small amount of marijuana in 2009, it hasn’t fully legalized marijuana. However, the country legalized medicinal marijuana with a THC content of less than 1% in 2017. Mexico could benefit from New Mexico’s medical marijuana program, which focuses on out-of-state patients. Last week, the Boston Globe reported that a new ruling passed in New Mexico allows out-of-state patients to access the program.

Previously, I discussed that Texas has strict marijuana laws. Recreational marijuana is illegal. However, Texas legalized medical marijuana in 2015.

The THC content allowed in medical marijuana is pretty low in Texas. The state only allows less than 0.5% THC with a doctor’s approval. Also, less than 0.3% THC marijuana is allowed without a doctor’s approval. The program could help patients from neighboring states and Mexico. Mexico’s economy could benefit from cannabis legalization since it generates higher tax revenues and employment growth.

New Zealand’s 2020 referendum

The fate of recreational cannabis legalization in New Zealand depends on the referendum next year during its general elections. Recreational marijuana is still illegal in the country. New Zealand considers cannabis to be an illegal drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1975. New Zealanders have an opportunity to vote for cannabis legalization. In order to make the case stronger, a Guardian article stated that the Helen Clark Foundation published a report. Specifically, the report presents a case favoring cannabis legalization.

What about other countries?

The cannabis plant has two components—CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the psychoactive component that’s responsible for the “high.”

CBD’s benefits are widely known. A Harvard Health Blog in January discussed how CBD helps relieve insomnia, stress, anxiety, and spasticity. CBD also helps treat epilepsy. Medical marijuana is legal in many countries due to its various health benefits. Notably, medical marijuana is legal in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Peru, Poland, and Portugal.

Based on a team of marijuana experts, a Vice article mentioned a few countries that might be next to fully legalize cannabis. The report predicts that Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Thailand, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Chile will legalize marijuana soon.

Luxembourg also plans to legalize cannabis. Recently, the country’s health minister confirmed the plan. Luxembourg already legalized medicinal cannabis. Possession for recreational use is decriminalized for a small amount.

Where’s the US heading with cannabis legalization?

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 33 states in the US. In contrast, recreational marijuana is legal in ten states and Washington DC. Marijuana isn’t legal at the federal level. Cannabis is gaining popularity among Americans. A Gallup showed that 86% of Americans support legalizing marijuana due to its health benefits.

Previously, I discussed how marijuana’s popularity and benefits pushed presidential election candidates to support legalization.

Also, I discussed that since cannabis is recession-proof, it can help boost US economic growth. We should also consider how the agriculture industry could benefit from cannabis legalization.

Two drug officials at the White House want more research at the state level to learn about marijuana’s pros and cons before it reaches the federal level. President Trump reiterated his administration’s decision to leave marijuana at the state level. Celebrities endorse making cannabis mainstream. Legalizing marijuana at the federal level could keep illicit and black market deals in check, which would ultimately boost tax revenues. There are a few disadvantages due to certain headwinds.

Considering that other countries are legalizing marijuana, will the US follow suit? Can all of these efforts push the US to step up and legalize cannabis?

Stay with us for the latest updates.

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