Since Colorado first opened its doors to recreational cannabis in 2013, there’s been a seismic shift in public policy that’s now beginning to reverberate around the world. Nearly 60 years ago, the United States essentially forced cannabis prohibition worldwide through international drug treaties. Today, legalization throughout the U.S. will likely create a domino effect. Cannabis consulting will soon be needed on an entirely new — international — level.
It’s crazy to imagine the international marketplace that will eventually materialize — but in reality, it’s already begun. In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country to fully legalize cannabis. Five years later, Canada followed suit.
Bermuda is currently in the process of finalizing a legal regime of their own. Meanwhile, barring any unforeseen upheavals, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote this December on the MORE Act, which would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level.
You’ve likely been preparing for a national cannabis market, but what about an international one? Here’s what you need to know to get ready for a global market and how HYC can help.
Hemp: The True International Green Rush
This isn’t just about marijuana. By only discussing the most overly regulated and maligned iteration of the plant, we’re ignoring hemp, the incredibly lucrative, non-intoxicating cannabis varietal that’s already established international prominence.
Scientifically speaking, hemp and marijuana are two varieties of the same plant. The only real difference is the legal one. With the passing of the U.S. Farm Bill, that difference has shrunk from a chasm to a trench. Hemp is now simply cannabis with a THC content of 0.3% or less.
As a result, the international hemp trade has flourished. In 2018, the international CBD market alone boasted a value of $4.6 billion.
CPLANT: Our International Cannabis Consulting Partner
International markets demand international partnerships. Thus, it stands to reason that when forging our cannabis consulting network beyond the United States, we’d first look to Uruguay, where it all began.
Uruguay’s foremost cannabis producer and broker, CPLANT, was our clear choice. In July 2020, CPLANT successfully brokered Uruguay’s first major CBD flower export with a sale of a half-ton to Switzerland. It wasn’t just the sale that caught our attention, but rather the incredibly deft maneuvering that the sale’s successful execution required.
Delivering to a landlocked country like Switzerland requires passing through an intermediary authority. Here, the intermediary was Germany, which posed a problem. In Germany, the legal threshold for THC content is only 0.2%, whereas Switzerland’s threshold is a full 1%. Since CPLANT was accommodating Switzerland, the half-ton of high-CBD cannabis flowers would be considered an illicit substance while passing through Germany.
However, through a series of highly nuanced arrangements between CPLANT, Switzerland, and Germany, the shipment was successfully facilitated without incident. For HYC to even consider extending our brand through a secondary entity, this is the level of expertise that’s required. We’re now proud to call CPLANT our international cannabis consulting partners.
HYC and CPLANT: Your International Cannabis Consulting Partners
The international cannabis market is teeming with possibility and opportunity, but it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s an entirely new level of the game that requires intense dedication, nuance, and calculation. Lucas Crivilone, co-founder and CEO of CPlant expands on the challenges of entering the international cannabis market: “It is a disruptive and difficult industry that requires prior knowledge and marketing knowledge. In turn, it requires long-term partners and consultants to face the competition and achieve lasting sales.”
The only way we can truly prepare you is by working with you. In the meantime, here are a few things we and our cannabis consulting partners at CPLANT suggest you keep in mind:
- Think prophetically. Look at the market for what it’ll be rather than what it is. For instance, currently, the international market is primarily wellness-based, bordering on recreational use. In the coming months and years, however, we predict you’ll see a decisive turn toward a more medicinally oriented market.
- Think politically. A century of prohibition doesn’t disappear overnight. Every country has an entirely different set of regulations regarding cannabis and very few of them are particularly lenient. As CPLANT demonstrated in their successful Swiss venture, you need more than just a knowledge of the laws of the various countries; you need the nuance and dynamism to (legally) get around them when necessary.
- Think strategically. On the international market, more is involved than just supply and demand. There’s a much bigger picture to be considered. For instance, where is cannabis most cost-effective to produce, and where will it be most profitable to sell? How will currency values play into the scenario?
“Being an innovative industry, trend changes happen fast, and you have to be prepared,” Crivilone adds. Basically, you need to be like water: dynamic, shapeshifting, relentless — essential, even. It’s not a simple direction to take. If it was, it wouldn’t require the combined expertise of two cannabis firms in separate hemispheres, but here we are.
Navigating the global market requires next-level cannabis consulting. If you’re considering taking your cannabis endeavor beyond your country’s borders, you don’t have to go it alone. Reach out to us for your initial consultation, and tap into our growing international network to help you make the jump with confidence.