Hemp’s Future in Latin America

Written by Colby McCoy

When talking about the hemp industry, it is not uncommon for Latin American markets to be left out of the conversation entirely. This is largely the case because the LATAM hemp market is still in an early infancy – or so we thought. As a matter of fact, societal views towards hemp and its potential as a cash crop have begun to shift in pockets across Latin America, from Uruguay to Mexico. This progress has not been without obstacles, however.

According to a recent LATAM market report by the Brightfield Group, hemp derived CBD sales could reach as high as $448 million by 2023. Although medical marijuana is deemed legal in multiple countries across LATAM, projected sales lag far behind CBD at $109 million by 2023. This massive divide can be attributed to LATAM views towards marijuana, which is viewed negatively and tied to violent drug cartels, an adversary LATAM nations have battled with for decades. Although it may be disappointing that marijuana legalization is a long way off, hemp is not subject to the same level stigmatization. This is the case because hemp contains little to no THC, leading to a different classification altogether in the mind of society and the policies of government.

A salient example of this is Uruguay, which fully legalized hemp production in 2013. The Uruguayan hemp market has blossomed, priming Uruguay to become one of the largest exporters of hemp-based products within LATAM in 2020 – especially with increased investor interest in launching hemp growing operations across the country. Up-and-coming hemp markets can also be found in Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Paraguay. Another stand out example is Columbia, where CBD products can be legally purchased through government licensed retailers. Suffice it to say, societal interest in hemp products is becoming a reality throughout multiple LATAM nations.

Although it is too early to make concrete predictions, hemp’s future in LATAM appears to be a bright one. As more LATAM states continue to reevaluate their legal stance towards cannabis, the possibility of a robust hemp market coming to fruition becomes even more likely. In the interim, one can only hope that LATAM countries with fledgling markets will be able to find willing foreign investors to bolster their newly founded hemp industries.

Photo courtesy of Nutra Ingredients-LATAM

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Colby McCoy

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