What’s Going on in International Cannabis: Voices from South America and Asia

international cannabis asia south america

Lately I have been fielding questions regarding cannabis business opportunities to or from Mexico, Canada, and China, and I always get questions from clients and prospective clients regarding importing and exporting hemp or marijuana to or from the U.S. market. If you are wondering what is going on in international cannabis, the answer is that there is a lot going on. Many countries, governments, businesses, and voters around the world are in some stage of legalizing or researching the business viability of cannabis both as a product for domestic consumption and production, as well as a target for export markets. And many countries have been involved for years – even decades.

I know that some of our blog readers are as avid internationalists as we are, so I want to remind you that my co-blogger Fred Rocafort and I are also co-hosts of Harris Bricken’s weekly Global Law and Business podcast. We just reached 25 episodes. Although not all of our episodes are or will be directly relevant to international cannabis, occasionally we have guests with expertise in cannabis in their home nation or in the international scene, and we will point you to the discussions that are relevant to cannabis businesses.

Sometimes we even make connections between buyers and sellers, importers and exporters, and investors and businesses. We’re always happy to chat in general terms about who we know and what they are looking for because people and businesses often come to us looking for stronger relationships in their businesses. And sometimes we interview those interesting people and businesses on our podcast.

In Episode 7, we discussed with attorney Rodolfo Perdomo Uruguay’s role as the first country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis. We discussed the current legal framework for cannabis in Uruguay and why there is no going back for the country when it comes to cannabis. Uruguay aspires to become a world hub for cannabis research and production, and it is rolling out new related legislation to do that. Uruguay is also a welcoming and attractive destination for foreign investors, including those in the cannabis sector. That is not something that can be said about every U.S. state at this stage of cannabis market maturity.

In Episode 22, we discussed cannabis in Asia with Glenn Davies, CEO of CannAcubed, a global cannabis startup based in Singapore with significant operations in China that is making inroads into Southeast Asia and Australia, as well. Glenn is a serial entrepreneur with a deep understanding of how cannabis will grow to fill many needs in both developing and developed nations through both the production and consumer channels.

In particular, Glenn discussed how some of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals dovetail with cannabis growth, including Life on Land (agricultural production), Responsible Production, No Poverty, and Climate Action.

As the world seeks to recover from the ravaging effects of Covid, many countries’ economic trajectories will be influenced by country-level development goals. Keep your eyes open for the rising stars in the international cannabis space.

Glenn Davies also believes that the Asian cannabis model is more sustainable than the North American cannabis model, in part because many countries like India, China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam have history of hemp production. Glenn and his team are also working to facilitate a general increase of knowledge and best practices in Asia. He has launched the Asia Industrial Hemp Association to provide resources for governments, lawmakers, farmers, and companies in Asia.

Like many endeavors in Asia, China has a large head start, but other countries like Thailand (and even more drug-conservative nations like the Philippines) are developing their legal frameworks and influencing public opinion about the desirability of cannabis as a crop and cannabis products as viable and desirable consumer goods, especially for export markets like the U.S. It is no surprise that many of these countries are looking to the FDA for guidance and hope to sell raw material and finished products to the U.S. domestic market.

We are always looking for interesting guests for our podcast. If you have any suggestions on topics relating to international cannabis or guests we should have on our show, please reach out to us on social media:

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