Latin America is seeing a lot of movement in cannabis regulations and legislation. Brazil — which is sort of the Oklahoma of the international cannabis scene — is a fairly progressive area with the largest market and over 1,100 new import authorizations. But the challenge is getting the product out and into other areas.
Despite an estimated $9.75 billion market value for cannabis, there’s no clear leadership. New cannabis lounges and on-site consumption facilities are emerging, but no one particular group appears to be spearheading cannabis regulations and movement in the region. It’s an ever-changing environment with a lot of potential.
If you’re considering getting into Latin America’s cannabis market, there are four hot places to watch: Colombia, Buenos Aires, Uruguay, and Mexico. Read on to learn about cannabis regulations in these four parts of Latin American, and how you can best prepare to enter the market.
Colombia’s cannabis regulations are laser-focused on cultivation licenses. There are no provisions for extractions or other segments; rather, they focus on this one area because of their strong agricultural background.
Both personal cultivation and consumption have been decriminalized in Colombia. But within the commercial cannabis industry, it’s permitted strictly for medicinal use and strictly from an agricultural standpoint.
There are, however, whispers of change. With Colombia and Panama in such close proximity, there’s a lot of tension and positioning to watch.
Argentina as a whole has great IT resources but poor economic solutions. There’s an interesting element of technology and the cannabis industry meeting, as certain groups are developing apps to connect the community of personal growers.
Right now, cannabis regulations surrounding growing for medical use in Buenos Aires are limited to individuals and certain networks. But with all this technological innovation and creativity, we expect the growing model to increase and expand.
Anytime a market or an industry grabs a foothold in a particular area and applies technology to it, you can anticipate those sectors growing at a pretty rapid rate. Keep an eye on Buenos Aires for new developments of technology and creativity in dealing with cannabis regulations.
Uruguay got their foothold in the cannabis industry through hemp, which they were able to sell all over the world. Then, in 2012, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize commercially produced adult-use cannabis. Even tourists are allowed to purchase marijuana.
Because of this, Uruguay seems to be decreasing emphasis on hemp and increasing their focus on cannabis. These two industries have great potential to work together and improve the country’s economy overall, but that doesn’t appear to be their intention right now.
Currently, Mexico is a difficult place to get started in the cannabis industry. We at HYC had the opportunity to help write the cannabis regulations in Mexico a few years ago, and those regulations were recently put in place. However, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to enter the program.
According to current cannabis regulations in Mexico, it’s legal to sell cannabis — but not to obtain it. You can’t grow, acquire, or import it. The country is basically hamstringing themselves for cannabis sales.
We are seeing an increase of interest in the Mexican market, however, and receiving a lot of inquiries. Be sure to keep an eye on future developments for the cannabis industry in Mexico to finally get off the ground.
The Future of Cannabis Regulations in Latin America
There’s a lot of potential for cannabusinesses in Latin America. Low operational costs and prime growing conditions make for a lucrative opportunity. However, there are also plenty of barriers, so it’s important to find the right country to operate in and the right partners to work with.
The cannabis industry is seeing plenty of movement in Latin America. Even though it’s a slow movement, it’s still important to get started sooner rather than later so you can prepare for the specific level of competition, politics, and cannabis regulations of the environment you’ll be entering.
Start making connections as early as you can so you’ll be fully aware of government requirements and limitations in the country you choose. HYC can help. Schedule a consultation for help entering the Latin American cannabis market and understanding its cannabis regulations.