(Bloomberg) -- Seemingly overnight, the cannabis industry has gone global.
That can be seen in the deal just announced by Curaleaf Holdings Inc., the largest U.S. cannabis company, that aims to turn Europe into a launchpad for international growth. Or take a look at British American Tobacco Plc’s new stake in a Canadian marijuana company, Organigram Holdings Inc. And then there’s the bill passed last week in Mexico that could make recreational marijuana legal, paving the way for heavy international investment.
Together, the developments show that global receptiveness to marijuana is accelerating.
Consider how rapidly Mexico’s stance has changed. The possession of small amounts of marijuana was first decriminalized in 2009, and limited medical use was legalized in 2017. The country published regulations to implement broad medical marijuana sales early this year, shortly before the recent bill to legalize recreational use.
Read More: Mexican Lower House Passes Bill to Create Legal Marijuana Market
That’s a relatively quick progression compared to the U.S., where some decriminalization began in the 1970s and medical cannabis was legalized in the 1990s. Decades later, the industry is still seeking approval at a national level for recreational use.
With a population approaching 130 million, Mexico is on the cusp of becoming the largest legal recreational market in the world. That could pressure the U.S. to follow suit, since it will be sandwiched between Mexico and Canada, countries that both allow cannabis use.
Mexico’s move is particularly significant for global cannabis. Because many multinational pharmaceutical, alcohol and consumer products companies are already there, it could make the country an attractive place to export cannabis and related products from, Emily Paxhia, managing partner of Poseidon Asset Management, told me in a phone conversation last week. “You can do high-quality manufacturing in Mexico for a low cost.”
The two deals announced last week, meanwhile, show how rapidly companies can expand abroad.
“It quickly went from focusing on domestic opportunities to how to participate in this global supply chain,” said Paxhia, who’s been investing in cannabis for seven years with Poseidon, in reference to the fast-changing industry. Poseidon currently has around $100 million invested in cannabis globally, and around $15 million in Mexico.
As more countries warm to cannabis, the movement of products into them will be swifter. Curaleaf’s purchase of Emmac Life Sciences Ltd. is premised upon that idea.
“We want to get in early,” Curaleaf Executive Chairman Boris Jordan said in an interview. Thanks to Emmac’s legal status in Europe, Curaleaf expects to be able to start selling its CBD products and cannabis brands quite quickly through the deal, he said.
Emmac is in eight countries now, but the laws in the European Union make it likely that national borders won’t slow things down the way state borders have within the U.S. And Jordan doesn’t plan to stop with Europe.
“Countries like Poland, Ukraine, South Africa -- there are even rumors of Egypt -- are also moving toward legalization,” he said. “And Europe is a great hub to attack those markets from.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The U.S. market will be very healthy, but I believe Europe will grow faster than the U.S. in the 2023-2025 timeframe,” Jordan said in a conversation about the Emmac deal.
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
6: The number of partnerships big tobacco has made with cannabis-related companies to date, including the BAT deal, according to Graeme Kreindler, an analyst with Eight Capital.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Curaleaf announced fourth-quarter earnings that topped estimates the same day it revealed plans to buy Emmac for about $285 million.
- Canopy Growth Corp. announced it would cut 135 jobs, and may close a facility in Denmark.
- British American Tobacco’s new 20% stake in Organigram is worth $175 million.
- Marijuana stocks rose after Mexico’s vote to liberalize marijuana laws.
- New York lawmakers are ready to schedule initial action on legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana, rather than waiting to include it in the budget, a process that Gov. Andrew Cuomo controls.
- Columbia Care Inc. reports fourth-quarter earnings before the market opens.
- Village Farms International Inc. reports fourth-quarter earnings before the market opens.
- NewAge Inc. reports fourth-quarter earnings before the market opens.
- Green Thumb Industries Inc. reports fourth-quarter earnings after the market closes.
- Jefferies University US Cannabis CEO Virtual Roundtable.
- Hexo Corp. reports second-quarter earnings before the market opens.
- CV Sciences Inc. reports fourth-quarter earnings after the market closes.
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