The high life: have you heard about the budding medicinal cannabis trade?

2 Jun 2022

In January 2022, IM Cannabis Corp., a leading medicinal cannabis company, announced a complete shipment of 870 pounds of in-door grown Canadian dried cannabis into Israel. This significant milestone has brought to the world’s attention the growing demand for quality medicinal cannabis and the budding efficacy of import/export pipelines for the drug.

Medicinal cannabis, also popularly referred to as medicinal marijuana, uses the plant’s distinct chemicals, known as cannabinoids, for medical purposes. There is a plethora of research dedicated to determining the efficacy of medical marijuana to treat certain conditions, but the most significant use lies within the therapeutic qualities of this plant (i.e., treating nausea following chemotherapy).

The fluctuations in demand have largely been attributed to increasing public acceptance and the subsequent lobbying for legalization. The push is not only from the general public but also governing bodies, such as the NHS England, requesting further research and development. This has driven research into the therapeutic qualities of cannabis while countries reassess the legal use and manufacture of cannabis.

The international trade of this plant is restricted under the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, however, the expansion of the demand for medicinal cannabis has grown significantly. Currently, medicinal cannabis is partially/fully legal in 43 countries and 37 US states. As the global attitude towards drugs such as cannabis changes use, and prevalence in the medical sector increases.

Medicinal marijuana and shipping
Since most medical marijuana import/export is primarily attributed to the pharmaceutical sector, research and development is crucial for compliance purposes – especially if the future of the drug is to have any longevity in the medical technology space. For example, for import into the European Union (EU), there is a requirement for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) on medicinal cannabis. Still, there is no standardized quality control for cannabis between countries. This boils down to the absence of a generalized standard for composition, level of potency, and so on. Establishing standardized regulation is crucial and will be supported through medical research – another reason why importing/exporting different strains is required for thorough research and compliance.

While there are international regulations, the demand for medicinal cannabis is growing, and the expected market value is forecasted to surpass $46 billion by 2026. With growth like that and uncertainty around compliance, it is crucial to use an Importer of Record that understands medical legislation. There is also the potential issue of trade disputes and other external factors that may come into play when assessing the potential of importing/exporting cannabis.

The import/export demand varies due to country-specific legislation allowing the use and consumption but refusing the license to produce or home grow. Certain countries have legalized the use of the product but continue to prevent any form of manufacturing.
As the shift towards the positive use of cannabis is gaining global traction, we may see more large shipments across the globe for research purposes. However, due to the infancy of this product in import/exports, there are some issues that still need to be ironed out. Issues on compliance concerns and customs clearance can be facilitated through a specialist importer who understands these ever-shifting regulations.