Only a handful of countries (including Canada, Uruguay, and Mexico) have legalized cannabis possession. Even among countries that allow cannabis possession and cultivation, many do not have legal markets where adults can purchase products. For instance, you can get a permit to cultivate marijuana in Mexico, but you cannot sell what you grow.
Despite some reluctance, new cannabis markets are emerging throughout the United States and around the world. Some researchers believe the global market will reach $197.75 billion by 2028. Currently, the global cannabis market has a value of about $28 billion. With rapid growth on the horizon, it pays to know where investors and entrepreneurs should concentrate their efforts.
Germany Takes Cautious Steps Toward Legalization
In 2021, all three of Germany’s ruling parties agreed they wanted to legalize recreational cannabis soon. Some confidently stated they could reach that goal by 2023. More recently, the German government has sounded less optimistic about that goal. It still wants to pass laws that legalize cannabis for adults, but it needs to consider how doing so might infringe on other laws within the European Union.
A strategy has emerged that would make cannabis sales and consumption legal in private, preventing cafes, restaurants, and similar businesses from reaping financial benefits. Still, it’s a short-term approach that might help Germany make cannabis more accessible without attracting anger from other members of the EU.
A legal market might not come to Germany by the end of 2023, but the government is focused on doing what it can as soon as possible. That makes Germany an attractive option for anyone evaluating emerging cannabis markets.
Mexico Has a Complicated Landscape for Legalization
Cannabis became legal by default when Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that prohibition violates the country’s constitution. Currently, individuals can get licenses to cultivate cannabis. They can also possess cannabis for personal use. They cannot, however, sell it. That essentially means that Mexico doesn’t have a legal market where anyone interested in cannabis products can legally buy products.
What’s preventing the country from moving forward? So far, the federal government just hasn’t developed policies that would regulate a legalized cannabis industry. The result of this regulatory failure isn’t surprising: consumers buy cannabis products from black market dealers who operate without any oversight.
Mexico’s federal government has shown some willingness to work toward a regulated industry that gives consumers accurate information about the items they buy. A law hasn’t been passed yet, but you can expect several bills to emerge over the next few years.
Thailand Shifts Its Position Dramatically
Not long ago, Thailand had some of the world’s most oppressive cannabis laws. At the same time, anyone walking through a Bangkok entertainment corridor would smell marijuana smoke. The laws were strict but enforced randomly. It was a confusing legal landscape for residents and tourists.
Now, those same corridors bustle with legal cannabis vendors selling edibles, pre-rolled joints, and flowers by weight.
This is potentially just the beginning of Thailand’s role in the legal cannabis industry. A large percentage of the country’s residents rely on making money from agriculture. The climate also makes Thailand an excellent place to grow cannabis outdoors.
Thailand could easily produce more cannabis than the country can use, creating the potential for it to emerge as a major exporter. Right now, no country allows international cannabis sales. If that changes, Thailand is positioned to become a major player in the world market.
Malta Passed Laws for Legal Cannabis Through Non-Profit Clubs
Near the beginning of 2021, Malta passed laws that decriminalized cannabis possession and expunged the records of citizens with possession charges. By the end of the year, Malta had taken a much bolder move by allowing adults medicinal and recreational cannabis sales. The only catch is that the law only lets non-profit clubs sell cannabis to consumers.
Will the government maintain this restriction? It seems to have worked well, but the industry is just starting. Over time, the government could find that it makes sense to privatize the industry.
Perhaps even more importantly, Malta is the first European country to legalize cannabis fully. This will inevitably put pressure on other countries to follow its lead.
Italy Now Allows Medicinal Cannabis Sales
Italy has decriminalized cannabis possession for personal use. It also has a regulated industry for medicinal marijuana. However, it has not passed laws that would make recreational sales legal.
Not surprisingly, some members of the Italian government want to create a legal industry for recreational cannabis. Many of them recognize that Italians already consume cannabis illegally—often without legal consequences. Why not collect taxes that would help fund federal initiatives?
Look for more activists and politicians to push for these changes in the near future, especially as the public gets used to medical cannabis.
More of the World Is Started to Accept Legal Cannabis
It will take some time for these countries—and the U.S. states that recently legalized cannabis—to create the infrastructures and policies needed to keep consumers safe, fund government projects, and ensure companies remain profitable. Keep your eyes on these locations. Each development takes them closer to legalization and opportunities to generate revenue from legal marijuana.