Medical cannabis goes global

The medicinal market is expected to grow five-fold in the next decade – here are the countries likely to import or export as well as insights into potential patient levels

Andrew Willis 8 July, 2019 | 4:50PM
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Note: This article is part of Morningstar Canada's Cannabis Week Special Report

While treaties on drug enforcement limit the global trade of cannabis for recreational purposes, the potential for medical cannabis exports is very large at face value. In Morningstar’s June 2019 Basic Materials Observer titled “Green Rush: Cannabis Market Will Grow by 9 Times by 2030,” we estimated that the market for Canadian and U.S. exports could reach nearly US$ 20 billion in sales by 2030 in current dollars, compared with nearly US$ 4 billion currently.

Canada, and to a lesser extent, the U.S. are two of the largest and most developed markets that have passed medical cannabis legalizations on some level. This has left room for the remaining global market to expand more than 11 times its current size.

We see countries that have take a lead on legalization as frontrunners in the future medical cannabis export market. Notable potential future exporters include Australia, Israel, Portugal, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe.

Other factors such as country size (Luxembourg) and high patient demand outpacing domestic production growth (Germany) have us identifying these particular countries as potential importers. Some countries have no plans to allow either imports or exports despite the legalization of personal use (Spain), while others restrict patient access to the extent that import needs are limited (Switzerland), garnering these markets a "to be determined" status.

We focused on pain sufferers to gauge future global medical cannabis sales. In the U.S. and Canada, we’ve identified chronic pain as the highest single reason for medical cannabis use. In The Journal of Pain (Vol. 9, No. 10, October 2008), researchers analyzed chronic pain prevalence among 17 countries and noted a difference between developed and developing countries, as illustrated below.  From a total 2030 population of nearly 870 million in legal or likely-to-be-legal countries (excluding the U.S. and Canada), we estimate the pain patient population at roughly 345million.



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About Author

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis  is Senior Editor at Morningstar Canada. He previously produced content for Fidelity Investments and finance industry events for Euromoney Institutional Investor and has written in the past for Thomson Reuters and CNN. Follow him on Twitter @Andrew_M_Willis.

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