As first reported by Newsweek, a Canadian cannabis company has become the first international entity to be granted a license to import and sell its products in Ukraine.
The State Service of Ukraine on Medicines and Drugs Control officially gave permission to C21 Investments Inc., which is headquartered in Vancouver, to import, process, distribute and re-export cannabidiol (CBD) extracts, concentrates and product.
European and Southern Expansion
With the deal in place, the company plans to expand further internationally. It is also in the process of applying for permission to cultivate hemp and cannabis in the Eastern European nation.
In a recent interview, CEO and President of C21 Robert Cheney told Newsweek, that the company plans on opening a European office in either Amsterdam or London.
"Our International brand licensing will most probably be located out of Ireland, but this is under review. We are further reviewing opportunities in Asia and South America while our focus remains primarily further expansion in the USA," Cheney said.
Through its approval to operate in Ukraine, C21 aims to expand its operations to import throughout Europe, even though Ukraine is not a member of the European Union (EU), yet.
The Ukrainian government has been seeking full membership into the EU, in the near future. In 2014, Kiev signed an association agreement with Brussels, which made trade between the two entities much easier.
Ukrainians have also been granted visa-free travel to EU countries since 2017.
Change is Moving Fast, Globally
Even though cannabis remains illegal in most EU countries, some have moved to decriminalize its use. And many have allowed for CBD extracts and products with minimal THC content.
Meanwhile, medicinal and recreational legalization of cannabis has moved forward in numerous countries throughout the world.
C21 president Robert Cheney pointed out that, "legalization is happening at a much more rapid pace than expected even compared to say 12 months ago." He says that the company expects this trend to continue.
Cheney also offered this prediction, "The market will transform as the dominant products shift from flower into processed and more consumer-friendly product formats such as vape, capsules and lifestyle products."
Rapid Growth, Rabid Investment
Earlier this year, Canada became the second country, after Uruguay, to legalize and regulate recreational cannabis consumption, production and sales. In the lead up to and following the decision, marijuana companies have seen a surge in investment, as publicly traded entities' stock prices have also grown rapidly.
This has caused some analysts to compare the budding industry's growth to the stock market bubbles from the 1990s internet boom and more recent cryptocurrency exchanges.
Bud on the Ballot
Under federal law, cannabis remains classified as an illegal Schedule I drug. But as momentum grows, campaigners for cannabis decriminalization hope to see that change in the near future.
This week's U.S. midterm elections were seen as a sign of growing support for the international legalization movement. As Michigan became the tenth U.S. state to legalize recreational cannabis, and Utah and Missouri joined more than 30 states that have already legalized medicinal use.
Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project said, “This is yet another historic election for the movement to end marijuana prohibition," in a statement emailed to Newsweek.
A Federal Update to Release the Tension
"I think it’s safe to say federal laws are in need of an update," said Hawkins. "Marijuana has now been legalized for adult use in one out of every five states."
Hawkins finished by saying, "We hope the results of this election will inspire Congress to finally start addressing the tension that exists between state and federal marijuana laws in our nation.”