Canadian licensed cannabis producers are exporting products like dried cannabis and cannabis oils in record numbers. The country has been exporting since 2015. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took office that year and changed the no-export policy of the former conservative government.
Each year since then, Canada has experienced phenomenal growth over the previous year. For example, in 2017, Canada exported ten times (522 kilograms) the dried cannabis they did in 2016.
Canada sees the same explosive export growth in the medical cannabis oil market. 2017 was a breakout year of 300% growth over 2016, and the best part for Canada is that it is just the tip of the iceberg for the new—and massive—overseas oil market, created by countries that are legalizing medical cannabis but outlawing other forms of the plant.
Experts agree that for Canada, the cannabis oil exports will likely prove more lucrative because oils are more versatile among patients and thus have more widespread applications. The oils are easier and less expensive to transport. Oil is generally allowed in most countries with some form of medical cannabis program, even those that limit medical cannabis in other forms. Indeed, these oils are often the first form of cannabis that countries legalize.
Oils have done wonders for dispelling the stigma that surrounds cannabis. Doctors can now speak about the oils in medical terms and are learning much more about the potential these oils can bring to health care. Doctors have always had limited exposure to medical cannabis, and particularly prescriptions or recommendations. Oils are changing that. For example, oils available in soft gel capsules are more familiar to doctors because they can evaluate dosage and active ingredients as they would any vitamin or supplement.
Canadians are applying for export applications in record numbers. In fact, five times more applications were received in 2017 than in the previous year for dried cannabis exports. Oil export applications nearly doubled, from 64 in 2016 to 114 in 2017. The numbers will likely keep growing because the demand from countries around the world is skyrocketing. Canada is an early exporter and first-to-market in many instances. They will likely become a keystone importer, setting the standards for others to follow. And countries are definitely following—many are following Canada’s lead in setting up their own export operations.
Canadians are definitely trying to lock up the market share in most countries that are legalizing medical marijuana (MMJ). But where is Canada exporting their product?
Many of their exports are to the European Union. Countries that are just beginning the legalization process will have to rely on imports for some time as they develop their cultivation capabilities. When MMJ is first legalized, the new regulations generally take several years to think through and develop. There are many aspects—medical applications, security, transportation, cultivation standards and other regulations. Fledgling countries will have to rely on countries like Canada to keep up with demand until they can establish their own internal regulatory structures.