The Burgeoning Cannabis Export World Map: Who Receives, Gives?

Justin Trudeau as a Liberal Leader talks to media in Quebec City, says he has smoked marijuana only five or six times in his lifetime.
Justin Trudeau as a Liberal Leader talks to media in Quebec City, says he has smoked marijuana only five or six times in his lifetime. (File photo via The Canadian Press)

After Uruguay, Canada is trailblazing the cannabis export trend, leaving countries like the United States and Israel incapable of export due to uneasy politics.  

As world states compete who is going to be the top exporter of marijuana following an accelerated takeoff of a global cannabis legalization trend, a nascent picture of who are the biggest players are becoming gradually clearer.

So far Canada is dominating particularly in North America, and special thanks go to its Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is fulfilling his promise after making legalization of marijuana part of his election platform. When legalized, Canada will be the first developed nation to take such unprecedented step; Canada is already making some noise at the world stage.

On Thursday, Canada’s Aurora Cannabis Inc, the country’s second-largest pot producer, said its German unit Pedanios won a contract to supply medical marijuana to the Italian market.

Aurora’s medical cannabis export will go directly through the Italian Ministry of Defence. Italy, where the army is the de facto cultivator of marijuana, had ordered 100 kilos in November from abroad due shortage in the country.

Italian soldiers are the main cultivators of marijuana in their country.
Italian soldiers are the main cultivators of marijuana in their country. (File image via Reuters)

The trend continues for Canadian dominance. In early January, Czech Republic’s medical marijuana received imports from Tilray Milled Cannabis, a high THC marijuana product grown on Vancouver Island, CBC reported.

The eastern European country was at the time among other nations to sell Canadian weed, joining Germany, Australia, New Zealand.

Seizing the opportunity of this growing trend, Australia announced in the first week of January that it would allow medicinal cannabis exports, in hopes to boost opportunities for domestic manufacturers.

Legalizing weed was part of the Canadian Liberals' election platform.
Legalizing weed was part of the Canadian Liberals’ election platform. (File image via Reuters)

Competition Not Full Circle Yet

With the competition burgeoning, it has not reached its full potential as there are only a few countries, whose laws are allowing medicinal marijuana exports. These countries include Canada, Uruguay, and the Netherlands, with Australia and Israel en route to make cash on the crop.

There are also issues on the ground that are inhibiting this competition to come to a complete circle.

On Thursday, The Jerusalem Post said Israeli marijuana were frustrated that their cannabis produce might be left unused and ready to rot amid bureaucratic blocks and ministerial infighting. It said there is 1 billion (NIS) or almost 300 million (USD) of produce waiting to be exported abroad.

Also, Canada’s main competition – U.S. marijuana growers  –  are going through tough times.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions raised these marijuana growers’ hackles, when he toughened federal government crackdown on their cannabis dealing.  Banks, visa and debit services can’t even process marijuana money amid his latest assault on states’ rights.

But if U.S. states, where marijuana has already been legalized, are allowed to export internationally, especially with California, who has a bigger population – almost 40 million – than the whole entire of Canada, the export map will drastically map.

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Eron Silverstein, 51, right, shops for marijuana at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California, January 2, 2018. (File image via Reuters)

LA Times journalist Patrick McGreevy reported that California produced at least 13.5 million pounds of marijuana in 2016 — five times more than the 2.5 million pounds it consumed.

California not being able to export its surplus internationally is definitely taking away from its leverage in the cannabis world.

Uruguay, who became the first country in the whole entire world to legalize marijuana in 2017, is also expected to change this export map. 

Uruguay said it will send its first batch of medical cannabis oil for export in December. But there is no news so far if Uruguay has sent its export or not.

International Cannabis Corporation (ICC) has been growing medical marijuana on some 233 hectares (576 acres) in Uruguay and plans to invest $10 million in production through 2018, Reuters reported.

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A sign advertises a medical marijuana dispensary on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California, July 19, 2010. (Image via Reuters)

Due to the incipient nature of this industry, figures and numbers are also not so clear.

Statistics Canada is currently making estimates of current illegal production, sale, and use of cannabis to provide the full picture of the “economic and social consequences of the legalization.” Statistic Canada is expected to give its report by mid-2018.

But Canada’s annual production is about 2.6 million kg, with about 30 per cent being the domestic production in the country.

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