The global cannabis trade continues to grow. Seventy countries have now legalized some form of cannabis. These laws and regulations vary widely but the intent is the same- to increase access to legal cannabis.
Currently, North America dominates the world cannabis economy.
Canada legalized the plant in 2018, while U.S. states adhere to a patchwork of rules ranging from full legalization to only the severely ill can get cannabis. Still, according to research by New Frontier Data, U.S. cannabis sales reached $20.3 billion in 2020.
“North America will be the engine both for the industrialization and commercialization of cannabis, and in shaping the emerging consumer culture,” the researchers wrote.
“The foundations of legal markets — from capitalization strategies and cultivation best practices, to new product innovation and social-use experiences — will largely stem from North America before subsequent adoption by other parts of the globe as new markets legalize.”
Nearly 30 European countries allow medical cannabis, while three allow for legal adult use.
Many European medical cannabis programs might look strange to North Americans. The rules are typically stricter, and the cannabis is harder to access.
However, changing public sentiment is affecting Europe’s policies. Legislators have introduced pro-cannabis bills in multiple countries.
Latin America has two countries with legal adult-use cannabis- Uruguay and Mexico. Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalize cannabis, while Mexico was the most recent. There are also a few countries with medical markets.
Still, cannabis is completely banned in most Latin American countries. Consumers have to rely on the black market.
Asian countries typically have anti-cannabis laws, but experts believe that might be changing. This is especially true with CBD, which has become quite popular in Asia. If the laws become friendlier toward THC, Asia could replace North America as the global cannabis epicenter.
South Africa is the only country on the continent with decriminalized cannabis. However, the black market is strong.
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