South America’s largest nation has become the latest country to approve the legal use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Brazil announced on Tuesday that a new regulatory framework for medicinal cannabis use has been drafted.
The new rules on medicinal use will be published “in the next few days”. Legalization of medicinal cannabis will take effect 90 days after that.
What will be of great interest to cannabis investors is that Brazil is continuing to prohibit cannabis cultivation. This means that Brazil will have to look to external suppliers to meet its cannabis needs. This makes Brazil a potential export market for whichever countries (and companies) can fill this void first.
In the United States, medicinal cannabis is now legal in 33 states. This encompasses a total population of roughly 224 million Americans. Brazil has now opened up a new market for medicinal cannabis for its own population of 211 million.
Brazil’s pharmaceutical regulator, Anvisa, released a few additional details. Medicinal cannabis will only be available by prescription and will be distributed in registered pharmacies.
Brazil joins Uruguay and Colombia as other South American nations to have legalized cannabis. Colombia has also legalized the recreational use of cannabis.
It’s too soon to predict how quickly medicinal cannabis use will be adopted by Brazil’s medical profession. With cannabis available by prescription only, doctors will be the gatekeepers of Brazil’s medicinal cannabis market.
Over the longer term, however, Brazil’s medicinal cannabis market can be expected to mirror the current medicinal market in the United States.
It’s now difficult to precisely quantify the U.S. market for medicinal cannabis. In states with legal medicinal and recreational markets, the lines are increasingly blurry in separating “medicinal” versus “recreational” use.
Globally, the medicinal cannabis market has been projected to reach US$55.8 billion by 2025. Brazil’s legalization of medicinal cannabis is an important milestone in reaching those numbers.
To the north of Brazil, Mexico (population 134 million) is currently implementing its own medicinal cannabis regulations. Discussions to fully legalize cannabis are advancing rapidly.
Progress in commercializing legal cannabis in the United States and Canada has been uneven (to be polite). Continued government ignorance and intransigence has delayed much of the growth in the industry that was previously predicted.
Internationally, the movement to legalize cannabis marches onward. Most EU nations are taking at least baby steps in that direction. Australia is legalizing cannabis. Several African and Asian nations are also moving to legalize cannabis.