Observations on LATAM’s Developing Market from CannabiSalud

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As more than 250 cannabis industry professionals gathered at CannabiSalud 2021 in Cancun, it was clear that the primary objectives for the next several years in the emerging cannabis market will be focused on business development and infrastructure combined with ongoing evaluation of product offerings. 

With a structure already in place for medicinal cannabis, the lingering question remains whether or not Mexico will open the doorway to adult use.  If recent Mexican Supreme Court rulings and the general tenor of the attendees is to be believed, such movements should come sooner than later.  

GPS.Global President Bob Hoban addressed the importance of selecting experienced partners when developing new projects and taking extra care to ensure compliance is a top priority across supply chains.  In a market that has frequently been hampered by black market activities and what could be described as “grey market” politics, building businesses the right way for the long haul will help to ensure that Mexico has the ability to take its place as a global leader in the cannabis industry.

Part of what has waylaid Mexico’s adult use bill from final passage is an effort to ensure social equity programs are part of the driving force behind the new industry.  And while it remains unclear whether those distinct elements will be included in the final bill, it is obvious that much of the cannabis business leadership will be pushing socially minded policies forward regardless of legislation.  

These types of discussions, combined with presentations from individuals like GCNC member Michael Patterson, CEO of US Cannabis Pharmaceutical Research and Development, on the potential of using cryptocurrency as a form of transactional payments for cannabis products, show how Mexico could grow into one of the more forward-thinking markets in the world if given the room to operate unhindered by political interests.  

Representatives from Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Belize made a strong showing of multinational professionals seeking to expand the LATAM supply chain for cannabis.  From a U.S. perspective, GPS.Global CEO Charles Feldman referenced the decreased presence of U.S. government engagement in markets like Mexico. These factors suggest that a collaborative Latin American market extending from Brazil to Mexico will have a large role in determining the future of cultivation and market flows for the Americas over the next several years.  

CannabiSalud and other recent conferences in South America, Europe and the United States have shown that these events will continue to be valuable hubs of industry connectivity and business building even as we deal with the remains of a global pandemic. It’s clear that throughout 2022 this momentum and energy will only increase as more connection-focused business events re-emerge.