Tilray, one of 38 licensed producers serving Canada’s medical cannabis market, will begin exporting medical marijuana to Chile, the company announced this week. It’s the latest of the company’s initiatives to expand into overseas markets as more countries legalize the plant’s medical use.
The Nanaimo, British Columbia-based company will team with Alef Biotechnology SpA, which is licensed by the Chilean government to produce medical cannabis commercially, to import and distribute products into the country, according to a company press release. The first shipment is expected to arrive by late February and will be available at certain pharmacies and hospitals in Santiago. As part of the deal, Alef will secure exclusive rights to distribute Tilray’s product line in Brazil.
“Today’s announcement marks Tilray’s entry into Latin America and expands our international reach to a fourth continent,” Tilray President Brendan Kennedy said in a statement Wednesday. “We are proud to be able to offer patients in need access to high quality, pharmaceutical-grade medical cannabis products.”
(Full disclosure: Tilray is a subsidiary of Privateer Holdings, which also owns Leafly.)
Expanding to other territories is a chief focus for Tilray in 2017, the release said. The company last year become the first to legally export medical cannabis from North America to Australia and the European Union. It’s also working on a number of clinical trials, including Canadian studies looking into cannabis as a treatment for a severe form of childhood epilepsy as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The company is also involved in an Australian study exploring the safety and efficacy of cannabis to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea.
Tilray isn’t the only company setting its sights on global expansion. Bedrocan, originally a Dutch company, now operates as a licensed producer in Canada. Bedrocan has exported cannabis products from the Netherlands to Canada, Australia, and a number of European countries. Peace Naturals, another Canadian licensed producer, has exported to Germany. Currently, no company based in the United States exports cannabis beyond the nation’s borders.
In recent decades, views in Chile regarding cannabis have changed dramatically. Once among the country’s most tightly regulated substances, cannabis for private, personal use was decriminalized in 2005. The sale of cannabis-derived prescription medicines has been permitted by pharmacies since 2015.