Will a Small European Country Become a Major Weed Exporter?
Fun fact: did you know that a country of just 2.1 million inhabitants has 28 licensed cannabis producers with an additional 15 waiting in line?
Well, situated in the Balkans, the Republic of North Macedonia (formally FYROM) has numerous advantages when it comes to the cannabis market — its geographical position, a favorable climate, and a population that is “fluent” in different crop production, to name but a few.
In addition, North Macedonia has a government that looks favorably at the cannabis business, has cheap resources, easy fulfilling requirements for businesses, as well as positive public regard towards the industry itself. A 2015 opinion poll showed that 70% of the population supported medicinal marijuana legalization.
Grown on a 140,000 square meter area, medicinal marijuana helped boost the North Macedonian economy ever since its legalization in February 2016. The industry reached a market share of around $230 million in North Macedonia; projections indicate that this amount will triple in size in the next 3 years, reaching 1% of the entire national output.
North Macedonia is one of the first countries in the region, after Croatia, that legalized the production, export, and use of medicinal marijuana. The existing legislation also states that only the final cannabis products, such as extracts, granules, oils, etc., can be exported.
With an estimated cost of about $1,100 and a 90–180 days deadline (for a permit), the production of hemp extracts in North Macedonia is easily obtainable. According to Marijuana Business Daily, North Macedonia’s medical marijuana industry has already received over $55 million in foreign investments.
The birth of the cannabis industry in this small region caused an economical stir and sparked the curiosity of the American Legal marijuana mogul, Michael Straumietis, to visit government officials including the Prime Minister. The CEO of Advanced Nutrients, also known as Big Mike, stated his excitement to take part in the cannabis potential of the country.
Nevertheless, the plans of North Macedonia to take Europe’s cannabis industry by storm are put on hold since the proposed law amendment, which was supposed to open the door for cannabis flower export, is temporarily removed from the parliament’s agenda.
This modification of the existing ”Law on the Control of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances” was designed to make 3 major changes that would impact the future of the cannabis business in the country.
Firstly, it would create a legal framework for cannabis flower export; secondly, it would allow the creation of an independent cannabis regulatory agency; thirdly, it would increase the requirements needed to get a business license.
This means that the stockpiling of cannabis flowers for export — a general practice of cannabis companies in North Macedonia — needs to temporarily cease and make room for other, more lucrative, business models instead.