Laws and Regulations

Biggest Exporters of Medical Cannabis and CBD

Written by Petar Petrov

The varying cannabis regulations from state to state and country to country have made the cannabis industry and its development quite hard to define. Nevertheless, when it comes to medical cannabis and CBD, a few countries have made significant strides toward becoming the leaders in cannabinoid export. With that lofty title in mind, they will hopefully also propel the industry forward as a whole.


Despite the fact thatHealth Canada, the Canadian Government’s Public Health Department, had explicitly declared on its website that it doesn’t “support facilitating a regime premised on servicing global demand,” it seems as if it has also looked the other way, possibly with regards to the pending legalization of the recreational use of cannabis in the country.

Tilray, a major Canadian medical cannabis company, was the first company to legally export cannabis to the EU for commercial medical use. Other Canadian companies like Peace Naturals and Tweed have followed Tilray’s example and garnered significant success in exporting to Germany and Croatia.

This can be attributed to a large extent to the strict regulations and regular inspections which Health Canada imposes on licensed cannabis producers, which causes them to be received with a certain level of credibility in Europe, where cannabis use is one of the highest in the world. Respectively, so are the standards which products have to meet.

“A lot of companies couldn’t meet these standards,” Sean Carney, Tilray’s director of European business development explains to  Vice News. “That sets us up to be able to compete on the world stage against marijuana companies in Israel, in the US, anywhere.”

Canadian ambition doesn’t end in Europe. Tilray has already begun planning Brazilian exports, and made an agreement with the Australian State of Victoria to deliver medical cannabis to 29 children with epilepsy.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, Bedrocan has long been at the forefront of worldwide medical cannabis distribution, shipping products to Canada, Australia, and other countries within Europe. In fact, it was the first medical cannabis manufacturer in the world to receive the European Medical Agency’s seal of approval for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

This year, the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis annually supplies Finland, Germany, and Italy with 350 kilograms of cannabis respectively, up from the previous 100 kg statutory limit. This limit is expected to further increase to 700 kgs by 2019.

Even so, what’s puzzling is Netherlands’ own policies on medical cannabis. Their law states that medical cannabis has never been officially approved as a treatment for Dutch patients. This results in some major issues for people living in the Netherlands, like not having cannabis treatments covered by basic medical insurance policies.


Israel is one of only three countries—alongside the Netherlands and Canada—to have a government-sponsored medical cannabis program, making it one of the leaders in research and development of medical cannabis.

In February of last year, the Israeli Government gave a green light to medical cannabis export as well. This which can only mean one thing; the birth of another major international player. Israel is targeting customers in the United States in particular, anddepending on the latter’s regulations, only time will tell how big of a role Israel will play on the American medical cannabis industry.

The UK

As of recent data, the UK has become the largest exporter of medical cannabis.In 2016, the UK exported 2.1 metric tons of cannabis, accounting for 67.7% of the world total cannabis export supply. The second largest exporter, the Netherlands, trailed way farther behind at 16.4% of global supply.

This designation, therefore, is somewhat ironic and even hypocritical considering the country’s own ban on cannabis on the basis it has no medical value. The perceived hypocrisy has fueled the anger of Steve Rolles, Transform’s senior policy analyst:

“It is scandalous and untenable for the UK government to maintain that cannabis has no medical uses, at the same time as licensing the world’s biggest government-approved medical cannabis production and export market.”

As with any emerging market industry,global medical cannabis exportis still in the earliest stages of development, and countries’ individual regulations can greatly influence and shift the indstry’s climate and direction. Nevertheless, the countries outlined above have so far emerged as the leaders in this the new age. Hopefully, they will all embrace not just the profits, but also the responsibility that comes with this power.

About the author

Petar Petrov

Petar is a freelance writer and copywriter, covering culture, art, society, and anything in-between that makes for a nice story. And as it so happens, cannabis is a great element to add to each of those conversations.