The United States and Canada are unquestionably the leaders of the pack in cannabis industry opportunities. Yet there are other markets beyond North America that hold a ton of promise for growers, retailers, importers/exporters and other allied businesses.
Let’s review, in alphabetical order, some of the leading lights:
Medical cannabis is growing exponentially in Australia, where authorities expect to see the number of prescriptions more than double in the coming year. Patient attitudes are increasingly favorable among all demographics, and businesses are coming aboard now that recreational cannabis has recently been legalized in the Australian Capital Territory which includes the capitol city Canberra.
One of Australia’s leading private health insurance companies has just chosen to support medical cannabis as an approved treatment, which is a first for the country. With the government Therapeutic Goods Administration yet to approve cannabis as a first-line therapy, businesses are seeing private-sector opportunities to provide consumers with the options they want.
Currently the only major medical cannabis market in Latin America, Brazil is also seeing a growing trends towards cannabis acceptance. The country allows medical patients to access a limited number of cannabis products that are authorized by the government, or nonregistered products on a case-by-case basis. It’s estimated that as many as 20,000 patients may be accessing nonregistered cannabis products through this alternative pathway.
While Brazil’s physician regulating council currently restricts the prescribing of cannabis to specific conditions, the importing of non-registered products is not restricted by the country’s health agency. So in practice, cannabis is being used medically for a growing list of treatments.
Generally considered the largest medical cannabis market in Europe (with Italy and the Netherlands respectively taking second and third place), Germany is currently meeting its demand solely via imports. Their first flower harvest was expected to take place this year, but COVID-19 has pushed back the start of production to 2021. Demand, however, is not taking a holiday, meaning that Germany depends on crops from Canada, Portugal and the Netherlands.
Insurance reimbursements have been increasing every quarter; most recently reaching 38.9 million euros. It’s been estimated that the total value of all medical cannabis products sold last year, including both reimbursements and private out-of-pocket payments, reached 170 million euros.
Known for its high-tech industries, Israel is currently a highly active medical cannabis marketplace with nearly 80,000 patients. What’s more, they are now the world’s largest importer of medical cannabis flower, and are also an exporter of medical products.
The potential is clear, but the data that businesses generally want is not. The Israeli government releases very little in the way of market facts, licensee statistics or production figures, leaving it to the cannabis industry to cobble together its own data points from publicly-reported information and best-guess estimates. Nonetheless, the percentage of cannabis patients among the general population is one of the highest in the world, and physicians are following suit.