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In 2018 we were treated to dozens of cannabis-friendly events that impacted both medical and recreational consumers across the world. We pared it down to the top 7 stories that you should know about right now, in order to better inform you for how cannabis will again be top-of-mind for many countries in 2019.

In no particular order…

Latin America Goes Green

Many countries in Latin America are warming up to the idea of medical and recreational cannabis, evidenced by Mexico’s Supreme Court legalizing cannabis for non-commercial recreational use in October. Note that commercial use and the sale of cannabis are both still illegal.

As reporters point out, between 2015 and 2017, Latin American countries such as Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay and Chile have all ushered in policies allowing the use of medicinal cannabis, hemp or CBD products. “Latin America’s medical cannabis market is quickly emerging as the next stage for global expansion for the world’s leading cannabis companies,” one article wrote.1

Some Canadian LPs are eyeing the region with interest. Aphria, for example, signed a Letter of Intent with Paraguayan pharma company Insumos Medicos SA, to exclusively supply medical cannabis in Paraguay.2

Massachusetts Cannabis Stores Open for Business

Around two years ago, the Bay State approved adult-use legalization but store openings were delayed. In 2018, the first cannabis stores opened in the region, which brought extremely long lines and snarling traffic. More stores migrated online to help ease the demand.

So long, Jeff Sessions

As in, for so long Jeff Sessions, then-U.S. attorney general appointed by President Trump, who held a warped view of cannabis and even proposed that it was extremely dangerous, using now-dismissed arguments that cannabis was a gateway drug. But when Sessions was fired in late 2018, many cannabis advocates saw that move as a decent win for their cause, since it would be hard to imagine a more hawkish voice against cannabis taking that position.

CBD Not a Niche Product Any Longer

The cannabinoid known for its many medicinal properties had a low-key 2010s but went mainstream in 2018, partially in thanks to a more mature California and Colorado rec-cannabis market. CBD could be found in almost every edible imaginable and CBD-heavy strains often were the first to sell out on dispensary shelves.

Some analysts peg the CBD market to balloon to $22 billion by 2020.3 By then, thanks to more R&D in the space, we should know more about other ailments where CBD could fit in as part of a medical regimen.

Education With an Edge

Few products have inspired post-secondary institutions to launch entire courses or programs revolving around it, but that’s exactly what cannabis accomplished in 2018. In Canada, you can take cannabis courses in schools ranging from Vancouver's Kwantlen Polytechnic University to Montreal’s McGill to the East Coast’s New Brunswick Community College.

It makes perfect sense for education to mirror what’s happening in the real world: As more licensed producers and peripheral companies search for employees with relevant experience, more graduates need to be armed with cannabis training and knowledge, which is also happening frequently in the U.S. For example, University California-Davis offers a course on cannabis and its “impact on people” while the University of Connecticut launched an undergraduate course on cannabis cultivation.

U.S. Legalizes Hemp

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill including a clause to legalize hemp, this important derivative of cannabis is now legal to cultivate and sell in the U.S. Hemp legalization was major news for everyone involved in cannabis, because also legal is CBD extracted from that federally legal hemp.

While cannabis is still illegal, many insiders saw hemp legalization as a win for business owners and enthusiasts.

Qualis Cannabis Corp. Chief Product Officer Julien Morris said that the bill bestows the same legitimacy to hemp farmers as others in agriculture.

“It allows them to use banks, get insurance and investment capital will be less spooked,” he told reporters.4

The True North Strong and Green

October 17, 2018 marked a historic date: Canada became the first Western country to legalize recreational cannabis, with the majority of provinces allowing public consumption and private cultivation. The green rush is on, with the fly in the ointment mainly being not enough supply for the rising demand. Lineups around the block mirrored what California first experienced when they launched retail shops selling their bud.

While edibles and oils have yet to come to market (expect that to happen October 2019), several huge deals between Canadian cannabis brands and food-and-beverage giants grabbed everyone’s attention, most notably Constellation Brands’ $4 million investment in Canopy Growth.

Be sure to check in with us at Cannvas.me for the latest development in Canada’s burgeoning cannabis market.

  1. https://investingnews.com/innspired/latin-americas-medical-cannabis-market/
  2. https://ca.proactiveinvestors.com/companies/news/211078/aphria-expands-latin-american-medical-cannabis-presence-with-entry-into-paraguay-211078.html
  3. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/new-study-cbd-market-22-billion-2022-722852/
  4. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/cbd-and-hemp-are-now-legal-in-the-us-so-what-does-that-mean-for-pot-companies-2018-12-20

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