Impact of US election on global cannabis sector to emerge slowly, executives say

A pharmacy in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Alfredo Pascual)

Implications of the U.S. elections on the cannabis industry stretch far beyond America’s borders. (Click here for live coverage of the U.S. election results.)

Industry executives in countries as far away as Australia, Jamaica and Uruguay are weighing how the results could affect their business prospects.

Potential impacts include:

  • Banking.
  • How medical cannabis is controlled internationally.
  • Financing.
  • Potential competition with American businesses.

What would an additional four-year term for President Donald Trump mean for the sprawling global industry?

Could the Democratic candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, usher in a new era of growth for the global medical cannabis sector?

Marijuana Business Daily reached out to executives spanning the globe for their perspectives on the American election.

This is what they told us:

Australia

Rhys Cohen, cannabis industry consultant, told MJBizDaily the election “will affect Australia to some extent,” but he does not foresee a broad impact on the country’s growing medical marijuana program.

“Australia’s cannabis industry kicked off the same year Trump took office, so it’s not as if his presence in the White House has meaningfully restricted our industry,” Cohen said.

“If Biden is elected, any short-term impacts will be more cultural than commercial. Electing a U.S. president who is pro-decriminalization and who might take meaningful legislative action down the road could positively impact investor sentiment and influence our political narratives.

“If U.S. cannabis policy undergoes significant reform in the long term, that would be a game changer.”

Cohen also believes that “de-risking cannabis for major U.S. corporations such as Facebook and Pfizer would unleash a tidal wave of global commercialization.”

“The U.S. government can significantly influence intergovernmental organizations, trade, investment and law if it so desires,” he said.

Brazil

Marcelo Grecco, co-founder at cannabis business accelerator The Green Hub, believes the result of this election could define the future of regulations for the industry in Brazil.

“The proximity between Trump and (President Jair) Bolsonaro could mean an easier path towards hemp farming in Brazil,” he said.

“Brazilian bill PL 399 is very similar to the American 2018 Farm bill signed by Trump. The bill is currently on hold in Congress but can come back as an agenda soon in case of a republican victory,” he said.

“On the other hand, Biden as a winner could not only mean a more difficult (path) to cannabis regulation but also a distancing with other important subjects.”

Canada 

George Smitherman, CEO of industry group Cannabis Council of Canada, said the impact of changes in the U.S. on the marijuana space on its northern neighbor are likely to emerge slowly, even in the event of a Biden victory.

“There’s no doubt that, with our longstanding medicinal cannabis model and the maturity of so many Canadian companies, all eyes will be focused on opportunities to export products, skills and expertise,” he said.

Germany

Nadine Walther, managing director of SpexAI, said that Europe, after failing to follow the example of Canada’s adult-use legalization in 2018, “still needs the right push” to move forward more decisively with cannabis reform.

“The U.S. election of 2020 could be a turning point. As one of the biggest economies, the U.S. often sets the direction, and other nations follow,” Walther said.

Italy

Luca Marola, CEO of Easyjoint, an Italian producer of “cannabis light,” is confident a Biden win could have a big impact on policies around the globe.

“With potentially even more states joining the legalized market, we’re witnessing a clear wave of liberation,” he said.

“It is the responsibility of the European anti-prohibitionist organizations and the most sensitive members of the institutions to bring these models, successes and experiences to the center of the debate so that what is happening in the U.S. will positively influence national and European policies.”

Jamaica

Courtney Betty, CEO of Timeless Herbal Care, said Jamaica’s regulated cannabis sector still faces a daunting obstacle in banking.

“When Jamaica legalized marijuana in 2017, the country spoke of great opportunities and transformation of the nation. These fruits have certainly not come to bear,” he said.

“Facing a potential threat from foreign correspondent banks in Jamaica to terminate relationships, Jamaican banks withheld banking privileges from what could have been a booming industry.

The U.S. election might present a ray of light for the industry, he said.

“The result of the United States election will determine the fate of the Jamaican cannabis industry. Should the Democrats win, then legalization in the United States would provide hope.

“Should the Republicans win, the medical cannabis industry in Jamaica will continue to face dire challenges.”

Alexandra Chong, CEO of Jacana, also highlighted the challenges that have arisen around banking.

Jamaica’s industry is intrinsically aligned to the U.S. because of the relationship between Jamaican banks and their U.S. correspondent banks, she said.

“This means that any positive outcome in the elections for the U.S. cannabis industry is a positive outcome for the Jamaican industry.”

Mexico

José Lugardo, founder and CEO of Grupo Sativa Health, said it is unclear what, if any, impact the U.S. election could have on Mexico’s stalled cannabis industry.

“Legal cannabis markets are gaining attention due to their resilience during the pandemic, and the Mexican government is paying attention to them as they are looking for ways to promote economic growth,” he said.

“It is unclear if the result of the U.S. election will accelerate the legalization process, but it can definitely have an impact as current legislators are hopeful to sign our cannabis legalization bill into law before its Dec. 15 deadline.”

Uruguay

Jordan Lewis, CEO of licensed cultivator Fotmer Life Sciences, believes the impact of the election results “can’t be overstated” because “much of the rest of the world looks to the U.S. to take the lead in terms of regulation and legalization, and a Democratic outcome will significantly accelerate market growth both in the U.S. and around the world.”

The most immediate impact likely would be passage of the SAFE Banking Act, which would serve as “one of the first real ‘wins’ in a new administration.”

“This will bring about much needed normalization of banking at the federal level and will help facilitate taxation and open up new investors – read: institutions – into the market,” Lewis said.

“For companies such as Fotmer, fluidity in international banking and access to traditional credit facilities will help accelerate our growth and lead to much more cost efficient financial transactions.”

Alfredo Pascual, based in Germany, can be reached at [email protected].

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at [email protected].

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