The global cannabis industry is exploding with most of the attention being paid to newly developing markets in North America and Europe. But over the last two years, the Latin American cannabis industry has been quietly making waves as more than ten significant markets there have now approved medical marijuana. In fact, new numbers released this week by marijuana consultancy firm Prohibition Partners predicts the Latin American cannabis market will be worth $8.5 billion in only ten years.
According to The LATAM Cannabis Report™, the legal marijuana sector in the area is expected to grow by over 300% annually over the coming decade, and that patient numbers will increase to over 4.6 million. The report also predicts that the Latin American market will soon undercut global marijuana prices, due to the low cost of production and favorable climates for outdoor cultivation. Colombia currently offers the most production licenses out of the 11 countries explored, allocating 142 licenses to date.
“Uruguay was the first country in the world to fully legalize cannabis and Jamaica was the first to legalize cannabis on religious grounds... Colombia has become one of the world's most attractive cannabis markets as international cannabis companies take advantage of favorable export laws,” explained Stephen Murphy, Managing Director at Prohibition Partners, in a press release. “We believe that the expansion of a Latin American market will significantly impact the global cannabis industry...bolstered by progressive legislation and regulatory change are set to ensure Latin America remains a desirable prospect for cannabis companies and investors."
The report states that Chile and Mexico will soon be leaders in the medical marijuana sector but that recreational will remain popular in Uruguay and Colombia. Former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, has been a vocal proponent of cannabis law reform and recently joined the Board of Directors of High Times Holdings, which owns popular marijuana culture magazine High Times, and is about to go public on the NASDAQ exchange. Fox believes that legalizing cannabis could be a significant way to help reduce cartel violence in his native country.
If Mexico takes the next step to full legalization, “one of the things that I’m absolutely convinced that will happen in Mexico is that we’ll take away half of the money that cartels get from selling drugs in the United States, and that half of the money will reduce the number of guns and ammunition bought by the cartels,” Fox recently told the Associated Press.
David Kani is a California based trial lawyer, author, and social commentator.
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