Canada cannabis businesses looking to expand in South America

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Annureet Kaur

Canada is home to the biggest cannabis company, however, now Canada is looking to invest in South American countries where cannabis laws are becoming fairly liberal, in hopes to be the leader of the global cannabis industry.

While Canada’s biggest, and now the world’s biggest cannabis company, Aurora Cannabis, agreed to buy out CanniMed Therapeutics for $852 million, other Canadian-based cannabis companies are looking to South America to invest, where several countries have fairly liberal cannabis laws.

Cannabis Wheaton, a Canadian cannabis streaming company, recently acquired 80 percent of Uruguay cannabis company Inverell. Uruguay is the first country to fully legalize cannabis, however its government tightly controls the market. While other countries like Peru, Chile, and Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use.

Three out of six federally licensed cannabis producers in Columbia are headquartered in Toronto, one of which plans to export cannabis to Canada and beyond.

Canadian-based cannabis company Aphria Inc. acquired Nuuvera Inc. in a $826 million deal on Monday. While Nuuvera isn’t licensed to grow or sell cannabis in Canada, it is licensed to import and export cannabis products, which will give Aphria access to South American and international markets like Uruguay.

Canada isn’t stopping just at South America, either. Some Canadian-based companies are also looking to expand and invest in Europe, where countries are becoming more and more cannabis-friendly with its laws.

Several fear the United States will get left behind in the global cannabis industry where Canada and Europe are getting a jump start.

Bethany Gomez, Director of Research for Brighfield Group, a cannabis market research firm, told Forbes that the US dominates the global market regardless.

“I don’t see the [Latin American] market being so static that… a change in federal regulations would prohibit [American companies] from being able to catch up,” Gomez said.