“Marijuana legalization seems to be making strides across the globe, but there are still plenty of pockets where the idea faces fierce resistance, namely in Asia.
Recreational cannabis has been legal in Uruguay since 2013—the first full legalization of the modern era—and in Canada since 2018. In the U.S., recreational pot is legal in the District of Columbia and 11 states, starting in 2012 with Colorado and Washington and most recently with Michigan this week. Medical marijuana is legal in several more U.S. states and many more countries.
Australia, New Zealand, and various countries in Europe are either looking to legalize or have already legalized medical marijuana. But in Asia, cannabis is illegal almost everywhere. In Singapore and Malaysia, possession can lead to the death penalty.
Two countries, South Korea and Thailand, broke from Asia’s anti-marijuana stance by legalizing the product for medical purposes in 2018. The move opened the door to medical marijuana companies looking for new markets.
Nicole Godresse, director of emerging markets in the Asia Pacific for Canadian medical cannabis firm Tilray, also spoke at the Infinity Ventures Summit and described Tilray’s strategy in Australia and New Zealand, which the company hopes to replicate in Thailand.
Tilray—which became the first cannabis company to list on NASDAQ when it went public in 2018—is currently the number one medical cannabis company by market share in Australia and New Zealand.
Sachdev said he is “very proud” that medical cannabis was legalized in Thailand, and hopes other Asian nations will follow suit.
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