Slideshow: 2018 International Cannabis Business Year in Review

Cannabis continued to make headlines around the globe in 2018, from the historic legalization of recreational use in Canada to passage of medical marijuana legislation in traditionally conservative countries.

Take a look back at these and other crucial marijuana business stories that broke this year in the following slideshow.

(Click on the orange arrows to advance the slideshow.)

Click here to see the top stories from the U.S.
Canada - already a world leader in the marijuana sector – is now an even better place to do business after it became the first G-7 country to end prohibition. Licensed producers spent the year opening markets in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Europe.

It was a breakout year for exports of medical cannabis from Canada, and 2018 also saw the first legal trans-Atlantic shipment of medical cannabis with Africa. The Canadian cannabis industry started measuring capital raised in the billions of dollars, an almost unimaginable increase from previous years.
American companies prevented from capitalizing on the cannabis industry in their own country sought a backdoor into Canada’s fast-growing sector. Alcohol company Constellation Brands and tobacco firm Altria Group bought or increased significant stakes in Canadian market leaders Canopy Growth and Cronos Group, respectively.

The investments were made with global opportunities in mind - including expansion in the United States when it becomes federally permissible. As of November, 54 U.S.-based cannabis firms listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange.
Latin America’s cannabis programs were expected to take off this year, but Argentina, Paraguay, Peru and Mexico were sluggish to implement their respective laws.

But Mexico’s new government announced plans to legalize recreational cannabis, making it a country to watch closely in 2019. Colombia was an exception to the slow movement for Latin America in 2018, drawing much attention from foreign investors.
New markets opened up in Asia and Oceania, but the biggest surprise for some was South Korea, which became the first country in East Asia to pass a medical cannabis law to allow patient access. Thailand followed suit, passing its own law to create a domestic and international industry.

New Zealand’s parliamentarians approved a bill to legalize medical marijuana, and Australia made strides as the country prepared to create an export industry, as patient numbers continued to rise at home.

And after years of delay, Israel’s Knesset finally approved medical cannabis exports.
Germany kept its leading position in Europe, with increasing demand - most of it covered by health insurance and all of it imported as local production is still delayed.

But more countries are rapidly coming on board. Denmark, Malta, Greece, Portugal and Macedonia all made significant moves during the year. And medical cannabis in the United Kingdom was something almost no one expected a year ago.

Another surprise was the promise of Luxembourg’s incoming government to legalize recreational cannabis, with the country now poised to become the first to do it in Europe.
The World Health Organization (WHO) almost finished a review process of different categories of cannabis to make recommendations to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the drug policymaking body of the United Nations.

The WHO already recommended earlier this year that pure CBD should not be included in international drug control conventions. The fact that international bodies are even talking about such a move denotes a significant shift in how cannabis is viewed.

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