Cannabis in Latin America: The Green Revolution is Here
Latin American countries have been experimenting with different legislative and administrative approaches to recreational and medical cannabis, as a new report details.
The LATAM Cannabis Report, recently published by Prohibition Partners, sheds lights on how the region is not a homogenous bloc when it comes to cannabis, and the diversity of approaches should be considered – particularly for other countries seeking to find reform that suits their jurisdictions.
Latin America is an important region to watch, particularly for key players in the cannabis industry, as the region is swiftly becoming a leading cultivation centre for the global cannabis supply - with over 40 licensed producers in the region. Furthermore, due to the markedly low facility, construction, and labour costs, the region has a competitive advantage over North America and Europe.
Uruguay is renowned as the first nation state in the world to legally regulate recreational cannabis production and supply. The country provides its citizens with three different ways to acquire cannabis; state-licensed pharmacies, local growers clubs, or via personal cultivation. The country faced several administrative and shortage problems following legalisation – which passed legislatively in 2013, but was only implemented in 2017 – but is now, according to the report, estimated to develop a cannabis market valued over $130 million by 2028.
Jamaica, the country par excellence linked to cannabis due to Rastafarian tradition, amended legislation in 2015 to decriminalise small amounts of cannabis for personal use. This move also recognised that the plant is used for religious and sacramental purposes. Furthermore, Jamaica devised a regulatory framework allowing for research and development, cultivation, processing, transportation, and sales of commercial cannabis. The report forecasts the market value for the Jamaican cannabis industry to be around $73 million by 2028.
Colombia’s role in the region’s cannabis revival has been somewhat overshadowed by other countries, though it too has enacted legislation that widens cannabis access. The country permits the medical and industrial production of the drug, and permits recreational use for people who cultivate cannabis themselves. The industry, especially the medicinal one, is quickly gaining pace; it is estimated that it is already large enough to cater for 4.5 million patients nationally and 60 million in the region. The report estimates that the Colombian cannabis market will reach $664 million over the next decade.
Other countries in the region have similar commercial and industrial opportunities, nonetheless the different levels of regulation, political will, and historical relationship with cannabis play important roles in determining the level of wealth this new market will generate in each jurisdiction. Nonetheless, various countries are recognising that cannabis is a commercial and social asset when regulated and disentangled from illegal groups. Most importantly, Latin American countries are establishing, albeit at different levels, a functioning approach which revolves around the well-being of people who use cannabis.
Many Latin American countries are no longer treating cannabis as a threat, but as a medicine and commercial product – a precious resource.
Read the full report: the LATAM Cannabis Report