If you're of a certain age, you probably remember the Doyle Dane Bernbach-produced commercials featuring "Juan Valdez," the Colombian farmer, who, with his trusty burro "Conchita," came to personify the multibillion-dollar Colombian coffee industry in the minds of American consumers.
The Juan Valdez character – and the undeniable quality appeal of Colombian coffee – helped turn the Andean nation into a coffee-exporting superpower.
I believe it will turn out much the same way for cannabis.
As you're going to see in a minute, there's a change coming overseas in 2019 – one that promises to be a real treat for investors.
I mean the birth of the first marijuana-exporting superpower. In fact, this country is already the world leader in cannabis research.
There's no telling whether we'll be treated to a Madison Avenue mascot, but one thing is beyond a doubt: This development is a giant step toward marijuana becoming a bona fide, globally traded commodity.
Let me introduce you to the National Institute for Cannabis Investors advisory board member who's got us a front-row seat…
This Is a Market Ripe for a Superpower
States, cities, provinces, and entire countries around the world increasingly are following the trail blazed by Canada when it comes to cannabis…
Because of our focus on well-established, well-funded Canadian cannabis companies, we know how that arc unfolds: Total prohibition gives way to limited medical use, which ushers in the kind of widespread medical use that can make cannabis a major local industry. Politicians see the light in the form of tax revenue and employment growth projections, and a groundswell of support for a fully legal "adult use" regime comes across the finish line.
And because our mastery of this idea lets us easily bull's-eye the next jurisdictions to go legal, we can enjoy the luxury looking ahead to the next lucrative trends in legal cannabis.
I mean exporting.
In the last week, we saw Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSE: ACB) announce a deal that will see it supplying Mexico's newly legalized medical marijuana market.
But as I indicated earlier, where exporting is concerned, there is a much bigger "profit storm" brewing.
It's going to change the industry and create opportunities worth billions – yet, shockingly, I've barely heard investors or industry pundits talking about it publicly.
And 2019's Top Cannabis Exporter Is…
The State of Israel, already an international powerhouse, punching far above its weight in cannabis research, is about to give the legal go-ahead to begin exporting cannabis.
The change could happen as early as 2019, according to our sources, which include Dr. Michael Dor, head of the General Medical Division at the Israeli Ministry of Health.
Going back to early 2017, one of the things my team and I have consistently heard in our talks with cannabis CEOs is the urgent need for legislation to allow the export of cannabis.
Israel's legislature, the Knesset, is primed to make those CEOs very happy indeed.
In mid-November, the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee approved a bill for medical cannabis exports. According to the announcement, the bill is "designed to give Israel Police the supervisory authority needed to open the medical cannabis market without jeopardizing public security."
The bill is now due for its first reading in the wider Knesset – something we'll be watching closely at the National Institute for Cannabis Investors.
The reasons for the change in Israel are, unsurprisingly, just about the same as they are in the other countries and jurisdictions that have gone legal.
In fact, the story of marijuana in Israel really is the story of worldwide cannabis in a nutshell.
Israel has among the world's best-quality cannabis because it has been used primarily for research. Researchers demand extremely high-quality cannabis with precise ratios of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, depending on the researchers' needs.
The cannabis research tradition in the country is as strong as any and comes with the kind of government backing painfully missing in the United States.
Indeed, it was Israeli researcher Dr. Raphael Mechoulam who first discovered THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. While working with various others, Mechoulam also discovered anandamide, one of the cannabinoids humans produce naturally, and it was his work that led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system.
No wonder they call Dr. Mechoulam "the Father of Cannabis Research."
Dr. Dor, a founding advisory board member at the National Institute for Cannabis Investors, has worked alongside Mechoulam. Dor is a prominent cannabis researcher in his own right.
This week, Dor told me he was confident, not to mention excited, that new exporting allowances would go through soon.
But that's not all he shared…
Cannabis Exporting Is the New Coffee
Israel will lead the world in the very high-quality, research-ready cannabis market – the country estimates it could generate $2.6 billion per year in a global market, which will quickly exceed $50 billion and then $100 billion.
And if the Knesset and Israeli government listen to Dr. Dor, that estimate will likely turn out to be far too low.
Dor also said that the cannabis market estimates are too small – for Israel exporting and for the global industry. He highlights not just medical applications, but food supplements, cosmetics, and pet medications.
Also on his radar – and, of course, ours at the Institute – are industrial hemp applications like furniture, clothing, and even more environmentally friendly plastics.
Visionary thinkers and researchers like Dr. Dor are going to be leading Israel into the export market as a center for cultivation and, in the process, creating a template for other markets to come. Given the less-than-ideal growing conditions and high labor costs in North America, it's all but inevitable that the truly mass-scale growing will take place elsewhere.
But most important of all, developments in Israel demonstrate, in a concrete way, that cannabis is fast on its way to becoming a truly global market, like coffee.