cannabis international cultivation legal

Successful Cannabis Exports Will Largely Depend On Maintaining Quality

The legal cannabis industry is going global.

Dozens of countries now allow legal medical cannabis sales in some form, and more are looking to do the same for adult-use cannabis.

Currently, only Canada and Uruguay have legalized cannabis for adult use, however, that will likely change sooner rather than later.

Several countries are exploring a policy change to permit adult-use cannabis, and Italy, Mexico, and South Africa are in the process of implementing pro-legalization court decisions.

The spread of cannabis reform across the globe is being paralleled by the rise of the legal international cannabis industry.

Cannabis imports and exports are already allowed in several countries, with more on the way.

As each country legalizes cannabis for medical and/or adult use those countries will have to decide whether or not to allow cannabis imports and/or exports, and it’s a safe bet that many will decide to approve one or both.

Just like almost any other agricultural crop, cannabis flower will be shipped all over the planet – more so than it already is.

Keeping Cannabis Flower Desirable

Cannabis products come in many forms in legal markets these days, with edibles, topicals, and other consumables rising in availability and popularity.

With that being said, cannabis flower is still very popular with consumers and patients and that is not likely to change, regardless of how many other types of products hit the market.

The success of the legal international cannabis industry will depend on how ‘fresh’ cannabis flower is after it travels a great distance.

Cannabis flower is unique in that its desirability involves a number of assessments by human senses.

Many agriculture products just need to be fit for human consumption and taste desirable for them to be demanded by consumers.

With cannabis, the flower needs to smell desirable, look desirable, and even feel desirable, in addition to tasting nice while being consumed in order for consumers to demand it.

Unfortunately for international entrepreneurs, cannabis flower does not have as long of a shelf life compared to other agricultural products.

It does not take long for cannabis flower to lose its smell, look ‘old,’ become over-dry/crumbly, and taste bad — at least when compared to other agriculture products.

Other Agricultural Technology Won’t Help

Various technologies have been harnessed over the years to help extend the life of many agriculture products that humans consume.

A popular strategy is to use preservatives.

Obviously, that will not work for cannabis flower that is being smoked or vaporized.

Humans should never inhale combusted preservatives.

Another strategy that is often incorporated when it comes to agriculture products is the use of freeze-dried technology.

Freeze-drying a green bean for future consumption may be okay, however, cannabis flower is not the same as a green bean.

Freezing cannabis, especially via flash-freeze technology, has the potential to lower its potency, though research is still being conducted in this area.

A green bean might ‘come back to life’ after being thawed out, but that may not be the case for cannabis flower, at least not from a smoking/vaporizing perspective.

The issue of cannabis flower shelf life is not going away and will presumably just become a bigger problem as the industry continues to go global.

Yet, as with all industry issues, there will also be opportunity. 

Cannabis cultivators and entrepreneurs that can figure out how to keep the desirable smell of cannabis flower around longer during international transport will no doubt be financially rewarded.


  • Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference and has blogged about cannabis since January 2010.

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