Oh Canada. Our neighbors to the north. Historically, Canada has been on the ball when it comes to marijuana legislature. In fact, they were actually the first country to legalize medical marijuana, way back in 2001. And while they still haven’t quite gotten around to legalizing recreational marijuana yet, their medical marijuana game is on point.
In Canada, there are around 40,000 medical marijuana patients. This may sound like a lot, but it’s actually a drop in the bucket when compared to some states in the U.S. Take Colorado for instance, which, at the last count, had somewhere in the neighborhood of 107,798 registered medical marijuana patients. Or California, which, at 758,607, has more medical marijuana card holders than all of the other states combined.
One would think that, with the number of medical marijuana patients being significantly lower than predicted, Canada would be looking for a way to boost medical marijuana sales amongst their own citizens, but that’s not the case. Instead, Canadian medical marijuana manufacturers have decided to take a different approach to help grow their new industry – by exporting their products to Croatia.
Croatia and Cannabis
There are some countries in Europe that have long had a relaxed approached when it comes to marijuana use. Like the Netherlands for example, where weed is sold in “coffee shops” and personal use is totally ok. Or Spain, where it’s fine for marijuana to be grown and smoked in the privacy of one’s own home.
Other countries have fought the legalization fight much more recently. Case in point: Croatia. Their legalization efforts came to fruition last October following a high profile case in which a Croatian man living with multiple sclerosis was jailed for growing cannabis in his garden. Police seized nearly 44 pounds from 37 year-old Huanito Luksetic, who was cultivating marijuana for personal use with the intent of turning it into cannabis oil to help mitigate his symptoms.
The case enraged many Croatians, who banded together, along with multiple patient doctor associations, to speak out in regards to the medical benefits of marijuana. This had a domino effect, sparking a public debate and causing the health ministry to form a commission to review the topic. From there, new laws were drawn up and medical marijuana was officially legalized on October 15th, 2015.
The First but Certainly Not the Last
Tilray, a company producing cannabis out of Vancouver Island, are busy preparing to send their first shipment across the Atlantic. The export permit came after a bit of red tape and an arduous application process, making Tilray the first company in Canada to hold a permit allowing the shipment of cannabis-derived products overseas.
Since Croatia has only legalized medicinal cannabis, and because transporting such a delicate product can be difficult, Tilray has been formulating capsules to send to Croatia. Not only do these travel well, but they also allow the body to absorb the medicine quickly through the bloodstream and are easy for any patient to ingest.
Tilray is working on two varieties of capsules. One will contain 5 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 5 milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD). The other, less potent version, will have 2.5 milligrams of THC and 2 milligrams of CBD.
Weed Around the World
As more countries legalize, it’s entirely likely that shipping marijuana-based products is going to become more commonplace. More companies, like Tilray, will surely hop on this bandwagon.
In the meantime, Tilray President Brendan Kennedy sees a bright future for his own business, stating, “Our intent is to build a global company that is investing significantly in global expansion. There is often this misconception that medical cannabis is a North American phenomenon, and that’s not the case. We see massive changes in places like Australia and throughout the EU.”
Tilray will soon expand its business to include exportation to Australia, per a research partnership designed to come up with an effective, marijuana-based treatment for the adverse effects of chemotherapy. The trial is expected to begin later this year and will take place in New South Wales and Sydney in partnership with researchers, professors, and scientists at the Chris O`Brien Lifehouse and the University of Sydney.