Who Will Lead International Cannabis Production?

Who Will Lead International Cannabis Production?

Which countries are poised to lead the globe in cannabis production? The answers may surprise you.

While the United Kingdom maintains an aggressively prohibitionist stance on medical and recreational marijuana, a new United Nations study cited by Cannabis Now shows that Great Britain is the world’s biggest producer of legal cannabis.

According to a new annual report issued by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), a United Nations body, the UK produced 95 tons of legal cannabis in 2016 — more than double the amount it produced the previous year. That total accounted for roughly 45 percent of the global total. A Cannabis Now notes, Great Britain also exported 2.1 tons of legal weed — of 67.7 percent of the world total.

Trailing Great Britain in the INCB report was Canada, which produced 80.7 tons of legal marijuana in 2016, followed by Portugal (21 tons), Israel (9.2 tons), and the Netherlands Chile (1.4 tons each). The Netherlands was the world’s second-biggest exporter of the crop — and a distant one at that — shipping out 16.4 percent of the global total. (The United States federal government did not submit any production data to the INCB.)

The UK’s top total can be traced to the pharmaceutical industry. British drug firm GW Pharmaceuticals uses legal cannabis in the manufacturing of both Epidiolex, an epilepsy treatment, and Sativex, a drug that treats muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. The production of Sativex accounts for most of the UK’s legal pot productions, and GW’s operations likely account for the bulk of country’s legal cannabis exports. As Cannabis Now notes, Sativex is shipped to corporate and university laboratories around the globe, instead of the retail medical market.

While Colombia is also looking to be a major player in global marijuana production, Canada might be best poised to surpass Great Britain as the world’s greatest pot producer.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 1991, and with the nation’s annual legal pot production only trailing the UK by a mere 15 tons, our neighbors to the north could soon be the next worldwide weed leader.

As the Motley Fool explains, Canada appears to be on the verge of allowing recreational cannabis sales to adults in late summer or early fall, which has sent the nation’s growers angling to grab as much of Canada’s medical and recreational markets as they possibly can.

Despite warnings from forecasters about the potential for severe oversupply, Canada’s pending legislation has prompted a flurry of organic expansion, strategic partnerships, and acquisitions, with four of the five largest marijuana acquisitions of all-time occurring within a four-month span.

Stay tuned to the Sugar Leaf for updates.