Georgia, population 3.8 million, has gone from legalizing cannabis in July 2018 to introducing legislation that will allow marijuana exports in less than four months.
The idea is that overseas cannabis sales would generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually into the country’s economy. Although Georgia's economy is among the fastest growing in Eastern Europe, it is still valued at only about $4,000 per household per year.
If the proposed legislation passes, Georgia, which sits at the crossroads of Western and Eastern Europe, could become a legal cannabis export model for countries seeking to grow their economies, writes Georgia Today.
Exporting cannabis would require cultivation, growth, harvesting, testing, packaging and delivery, thus creating thousands of jobs. The hope is to lure back some of the 1 million or so Georgians who are working overseas because of a lack of opportunities at home, wrote Iago Khvichia, guest writer for the Entrepreneur.
The idea of exporting cannabis products naturally has drawn criticism from Georgia's conservative politicians and the influential Georgian Orthodox Church.
The fact that the country's Constitutional Court made two pro-cannabis rulings in the past year suggests that most Georgians would find favor in exports, especially if it would bolster the economy.
“A lot of countries are also enacting legislation aimed at ensuring that legal marijuana is safe. One approach is granting legal-cannabis business licenses only to companies experienced in growing, testing, packaging and delivering it,” points out Khvichia. “I hope the Georgia legislation does not include such a restriction -- because it would limit competition by preventing businesses with good records in other industries from taking part.”
In October, 2018 Georgia’s opposition Girchi Party held the country’s first ever Cannabis Festival.
Khvichia, a member of the Girchi Party, acknowledged that any new legislation is going to be “dicey, taking unexpected twists and turns. And opposition from conservative politicians and the church is expected to be stiff. But, those of us who support legal marijuana exports think momentum is on our side.”