North Macedonia slowly becoming an intriguing, if risky, cannabis market

Twitter icon

North Macedonia wants a piece of the cannabis pie, but the road to profitability won’t be easy.

As the European market slowly opens up to the production and sale of marijuana, smaller countries are turning to the drug as a way to jumpstart their economies and attract the capital and expertise of experienced operators elsewhere in world.

With cannabis still prohibited at the federal level in the U.S., Canada has been given an early shot at international markets that may become players over the next five years.

Many Canadian companies have been able to use their international operations to help offset what has been a trying couple of years for the industry in North America. All of this has presented an opportunity that developing countries are hoping to cash in on.

“If we want to raise economy in North Macedonia, cannabis is the way to boost it,” the country’s healthcare minister Venko Filipche said, according to Business Day.

Since 2016, more than two dozen companies have received licences to grow cannabis from the country’s health ministry and another 20 or so are currently being processed. All of this to serve a country slightly larger than Vermont, with a population of about 2 million people.

Since 2016, more than two dozen companies have received licences to grow cannabis from the country’s health ministry. / Photo: Leonid Andronov / iStock / Getty Images Plus Leonid Andronov / iStock / Getty Images Plus

“We think it will be a lucrative business,” said Jane Sevdinski, who plans to invest close to $1.5 million with his business partner in four large greenhouses. “In about a year and a half, we expect to be profitable,” Sevdinski said.

But despite appearances, access to the industry isn’t easy. Potential growers need anywhere from $700,000 to $1.5 million, in addition to a licence, to participate.

North Macedonia is one of Europe’s poorest countries, with average monthly salaries in the range of just $600 to $800.

That’s why foreign investment is vital, according to Strain Insider. Cannabis Europe recently released a report called Europe is Open that captured the lay of the land.

“Medical cannabis is an attractive proposition for European governments as countries such as Macedonia, Greece, Romania, Portugal and Jersey open up for investment,” it noted. “European states have observed the commercial and social benefits of a legal framework that can drive jobs, market growth and tax revenue. However, markets/allocation of licences saturate quickly with many competitors, propounding the importance of acting quickly.”

But there are obstacles to setting up shop in North Macedonia, the biggest being that the country currently only allows the export of extracted oil, not dry flower (with the exception of one company, NYSK Holdings). The country is also not a member of the EU and the union does not currently recognize its Good Manufacturing Practices certification. Add to that a robust black market and the challenges become more daunting.

But all of this, of course, has kept the competition away and preserved an environment that is cheap in which to operate (rent, taxes and electricity, in particular) in a country that is working to facilitate the production of the plant. North Macedonia hopes to establish a regulatory body soon to govern the drug and allow for the export of flower.

Time will tell if the country finds success and if any Canadian companies get in on the ground floor.

e-mail icon Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Reddit icon
Rate this article: 
Regional Marijuana News: