The legislation of medical cannabis has been steadfast in recent years, with attitudes in certain countries shifting in favour of its liberalisation, a new report has found.
According to Prohibition Partners’ latest Cannabis Legal Report, the number of countries legalising medical cannabis has increased nine-fold over the last five years. As of 2019, 43 countries have legalised medical cannabis, it said, with “a host more allowing pharmaceutical cannabis”.
Legalisation has been in line with the “global shifting attitudes” in support of medical cannabis, the report noted, with thousands of patients around the world already enabled access to legal medical cannabis.
Despite the support, however, the report also noted international regulatory bodies and treaties are lagging behind.
“One of the main roadblocks stymying global cannabis trade is the inability of banks to handle transactions or do business with cannabis firms without fear of prosecution,” the report said.
“[Secondly,] most global merger and acquisition activity involves Canadian firms buying up local producers with consolidation and growth driven by the big licensed producers.
“[Thirdly,] global regulation is failing to keep pace with legalisation, and international resolutions and trade agreements are needed to give clarity to businesses and patients.”
Commenting further, Prohibition Partners managing director Daragh Anglim said: “Regulatory shifts and advances came thick and fast over the last 12 months, such as Thailand’s reform of previously conservative cannabis policies, Canada’s legalisation of adult-use cannabis and the UK’s implementation of a medical cannabis programme.
“We feel that international regulatory bodies and institutions need to keep pace with global legislative change to offer the clarity that businesses and patients need.”
Mr Anglim said while the EU has taken initial steps to develop common standards for medical cannabis — “which would go some way to producing clarity in the largest potential cannabis market” — the UN, however, “has delayed the reclassification of cannabis, which should be a priority to better reflect the growing demand and use of cannabis as a medicine”.
“US authorities have been slow to implement new regulations to protect legal cannabis businesses and provide banking security,” he added.
“Despite this lack of clarity, thousands of patients around the world have been able to access legal medical cannabis in 2019, and Prohibition Partners predicts this growth to gain further momentum at a national level.
“International regulators will need to follow suit to keep pace with the widening commercial, social and health benefits associated with legal cannabis.”