Riding the Green Golden Dragon of Cannabis
Most people associate cannabis with marijuana, and of course, it's the most popular association with the plant. However, cannabis is also known as the common hemp plant, which is used for textile and other non-drug use in many parts of Asia, particularly in China and India.
Is China Set to Dominate the Cannabis Industry?
China has been cultivating hemp for 12,000 years and has continued to dominate the export market to Western countries. In fact, China holds patents for more than half of the patents related to cannabis, so deeply is it ingrained in the culture and technology.
And it isn’t just about history, either. In most cases, farmers set aside April every year to grow hemp in rotation with other crops for practical reasons. Hemp growers are making more money with weed than cultivating other types of crops, as hemp goes for about $1,440 or ¥10,000 per hectare. In addition, hemp is naturally immune to most pests, so growing them is cheap.
Hemp growers in China are now growing them legally, although legalization only happened in 2016. Most of the hemp production is in the provinces of Heilongjiang and Yunnan that makes up half of the hemp produced in the world.
The future of marijuana in China
Producing marijuana for smoking is still illegal in China, but that can change very quickly once rising demand from countries that have finally legalized medical and recreational marijuana products happens. These countries have already legalized the use of marijuana, and some countries are in the process. Canada is set to legalize medical marijuana starting on 17 October 2018 in most provinces.
Many countries can and do produce marijuana plants for drug use, and much of them are from small, independent growers. However, the biggest expense for many of these growers is labor, so economies of scale dictate they would not be able to compete with large quantity suppliers such as China, where labor is notoriously cheap.
Currently, the cheapest country to buy a gram of marijuana for smoking is Uruguay, at about $1 USD. China has not yet made any noise in this market sector, but there is a good chance that once it does, it will make a big one.