An Analysis of Global Trends in the Medical Cannabis Industry

Sussie Rørstrøm

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of the thesis is to create an overview of the global medical cannabis industry by analyzing a representative sample of 34 medical cannabis companies from 10 countries and 25 US states in order to identify national, regional and international medical cannabis industry trends in recent years. The information gathering process has been performed using a fitted environmental scanning framework to gather a set of common primary and secondary data about each of the 34 companies included in the representative sample. This data is analyzed by core activities and subsequently compared through a systematic analysis of the core business areas of the medical cannabis industry. The results of these analyses have enabled the identification of national, regional and international trends. Nationally, the legal framework impacts the industry significantly. Any uncertainty regarding regulations and requirements of the handling of cannabis creates industry uncertainty of what constitutes as legal. In the US, the duality between state and federal laws creates such uncertainty. Clear legislative control is seen in Chile, the Netherlands and Israel, where growth and innovation have been possible through the support of local governments. Regional trends include South American cultural trend of personalized communication, which affects the acquisition of financial information and the form of local corporate social responsibility activities. CSR is also seen in European regions and North American regions, but less so in Australia due to its very recent legal acceptance of medical cannabis. Internationally, CSR is widely used to ensure the advancement of the medical cannabis industry. This is particularly done through sharing experiences and knowledge across companies and nations, to strengthen the joint knowledge bank of scientific evidence. This evidence is root of the industry, which also highlights the international trend of relying heavily on research and development. Such evidence and innovation is important for the medical cannabis industry, in order to justify its activities and reduce the stigma of cannabis as a dangerous drug that has been the basis of global legislations throughout the past 55 years. 12 The size of the representative sample presents a limitation. The industry is growing rapidly with new players every day, which makes a complete global overview challenging. Future research could include a larger sample to identify the most significant global medical cannabis companies and their respective influences on the industry. The global medical cannabis industry is in its infancy and has to date been neglected by marketing researchers, which presents an abundance of future research possibilities.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages163