As more and more countries legalize medical cannabis, an increasing number of federally licensed cannabis producers are eager to start selling their products abroad.
In the last two years, 12 different countries have put laws in place that legalize the use of medical cannabis. Worldwide, 29 countries allow for it, but fewer than 10 are able to import the product from other nations.
This comes after yesterday’s announcement from Cronos Group, another firm, that said it would soon begin construction of a 45,000-square-foot greenhouse in Israel after entering a joint venture with a large farm operation there.
Meanwhile, Nanaimo-based Tilray will invest €20 million (just over $29 million CAD) to build the company’s European facility in Cantanhede, Portugal.
There, Tilray will cultivate, process, package and distribute medical cannabis products destined for the European market. Construction of the 269,000-square foot greenhouse and 32,000-square-foot processing facility will begin this month.
Tilray first exported medical cannabis to Europe in June of 2016. Some of the producer’s products can be purchased at pharmacies in several European countries.
The company has also exported medical cannabis to Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and Chile.
While it’s certainly leading the way in pursuing international markets, a number of other LPs have followed suit.
After Australia legalized medical cannabis in November, Aurora, a Vancouver-based LP with a facility outside of Calgary, acquired a 20-percent stake in Cann Group, the first firm in Australia to be awarded a licence to grow by the Australian government.
In May, Aurora acquired German firm Pedanios, which exports, imports, and distributes cannabis throughout Europe, in a $34-million deal.
The German market is especially appealing to producers because patients there receive national health coverage for their medical cannabis. Some financial analysts have suggested that it could be twice as large as Canada’s medical cannabis industry.
With the construction of Aurora’s massive 800,000-square-foot hybrid greenhouse just outside of Edmonton also underway, company executives are eager to begin exporting cannabis to Europe through the German firm when the new facility is operational.
Canopy Growth Corporation, the parent company of Tweed, Mettrum, and Bedrocan, has also exported cannabis to Germany, Brazil, and Australia.
Another Canadian LP, Peace Naturals (a subsidiary of Cronos Group) maintained a supply contract with Pedanios before the firm was purchased by Aurora.
It announced on September 1 that it entered a supply agreement with Cannamedical Pharma, another German wholesaler licensed for federal narcotics import. Peace Naturals recently began exporting cannabis oils to the Cayman Islands as well.
Yet another firm, Leamington, Ontario-based Aphria, has signed an agreement with a research firm in Australia to grow cannabis for a clinical trial.
While that venture might not sound like much, Aphria has taken steps to enter the American market—something not many would consider given federal prohibition laws—by investing $25 million in a medical cannabis operation in Florida. It also has a stake in a cannabis company based in Arizona.
With a projected global market size of $75 billion by 2025, and with just one other country currently permitted to sell cannabis internationally, it’s easy to see why licensed producers are having a hard time ignoring the opportunity for growth.