Cannabis, due to its ever-growing health benefits, is getting popular. It can be found in various forms in a number of industries. Over the past few years, an immense increase has been registered in the import exports of medical cannabis. Among many countries, the suite of clients related to cannabis is expanding. For this purpose, one needs a thorough, detailed legal advice related to manufacturing, overseas hemp import-export issues, and legal procedure or customs.
Due to cannabis being a drug, the import and export of the products of medical cannabis internationally, including the ones made of low THC cannabis, are highly administered and subject to International Drug Convention.
It requires a legal approval of the national governments of both of the countries that are importing and exporting the products before the shipment can proceed. Some of the countries are lenient about food or nutritional products having cannabis, but it depends on the laws of different countries.
The supply of medicinal cannabis is not really affected, but it requires a legal import export license and permits to export.
There are several products of cannabis that are eligible for export with the license:
- Cannabis resin extracts that are manufactured under Narcotic drugs act 1967 license and permit. But, it is applicable for the one that is not in the form of final dosage.
- In Australia, medicinal cannabis products can be exported under a GMP license.
- Export-only enlisted medicinal cannabis products or products that are registered on the Australian Registered Therapeutic Goods may also be eligible.
How to ship medical cannabis internationally?
Before you start shipping cannabis internationally, here is what must be kept in mind:
- Try to start with countries having developed health departments and strong export authorities. For example, countries like Colombia, South Africa, Lesotho, Jamaica, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands would do great.
- Take a start in countries in which federal laws allow the production of cannabis. There are quite a few countries like Mexico, Switzerland, Luxembourg.
- There are countries that allow medicinal cannabis imports, especially in the E.U.; so, find such countries to trade.
- Acquire cannabis import and export permits and make suitable deals. And always make sure you report all imports and exports to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
For your information, The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is the “independent control body for international drug conventions” of the United Nations (UN). The 1961 Single Convention allows the manufacturing and administering of cannabis for research and medical purposes only, that too under certain conditions. The authorities decide a specific space or area where cannabis can be cultivated and has the exclusive right to import or export cannabis, trade at wholesale, and maintain supply. The countries having businesses related to cannabis have already taken such steps to proceed.
The import export market for medical cannabis is expanding considerably. However, apart from the difficulties regarding permits and other legal issues, there are many other important matters to work through. Especially the quality standards of the product matter a lot.
For that purpose, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) assurance is compulsory to trade medical cannabis. For instance, as such there are no designated standards of regulations between and among countries for medical cannabis quality check. That includes all contents, like adulterants, composition, ingredients, and the levels of toxic residues in the product. That is somehow scary thinking cannabis as a medicine. Supply chain integrity is also an issue.
International trade laws of cannabis
International trade is regulated by UN drug Control treaties (three-core), and notably by international trade and investment law. For instance, The UN drug control treaties like single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 (amended later) deal with this subject. Specific UN control treaties make sure the international import export of cannabis restricts to medical and research purposes only. Moreover, they set measures for export import of cannabis, such as schemes for permits and licensing.
To be brief, the treaties provide for some of the following purposes related to cannabis trade or import export:
- The 1961 Convention includes cannabis and cannabis resin as a Schedule IV drug. Further, it restricts the import and export of schedule drugs for research and medical purpose only. This convention also limits the quantity of import of such drugs.
- The 1971 Convention includes THC and its isomers in Schedule II and prohibits the import and export of THC and similar drugs for research.
- The 1988 amendment conclusively requires parties to criminalize imports and exports done in infringement to permitted trade under the above (1961 and 1971) conventions.
Companies that legally supports the import export of cannabis
Lately, with the legalization proceedings in U.S and Canada, this industry has flourished. Companies are now legally trading from Canada to U.S.
The prominent companies that are legally trading medical cannabis are:
- Tilray (TLRY)
- Canopy Growth (CGC)