5 Countries in the World Leading in Medical Cannabis Research

15 Mar 2021

It’s not a secret that the stigma is still strong for the use of marijuana, both medical and recreational. To this end, science tries to resolve the issue and give a broader picture of this medicine, helped by meticulous research. Below is a quick overview of some of the world’s top countries that are truly devoted to medical cannabis research. If there's any prerequisite for being able to conduct in-depth scientific research, especially on stuff like cannabis, it's having a good legislation that would not limit the research. While countries like Germany, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia have been gradually improving their research score in the last years, those who are really taking medical cannabis research to the next level are The Czech Republic, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, and Israel. Here's a quick overview of what each of these five countries is doing.


1. The Czech Republic

It’s a little-known fact that Czechs have one of the best cannabis research institutions in Europe and beyond.  The International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI) research center was launched a few years back thanks to the Members of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and Dioscorides Global Holdings, and Svatopluk Nemecek, former Czech Minister of Health who held office between 2014 and 2016. ICCI collaborates with various cannabis experts and a network of more than 40 universities, hi-tech companies, and institutions from all around the globe, and has become a truly international education hub in Central Europe. Some of its research efforts have focused on exploring the effectiveness of cannabis compounds on human organisms, how the different compounds impact specific syndromes as well as systematic health disorders. The center has also taken on extensive analysis of European CBD oils to meet the needs of the hot-boiling cannabis industry. Pretty impressive for a country with a world-famous beer!

2. Canada

Canadians are known for their progressive ecological spirit and symbiosis with nature. In 2018, Canada became the second country only to fully legalise cannabis, which also made the country the largest economy in that respect (but this status is soon to be overtaken by Mexico).  Current Canadian Primer Minister Justin Trudeau backed the legalisation of cannabis when he run his electoral campaign in 2015. At the same time, the Canadian scientific community also rallied for cannabis. Over 1,800 scientists and researchers signed a letter that requested Trudeau and the government for more extensive engagement in the research of cannabis. As a result, the same year the Canadian government introduced recreational legalisation, it decided to also slot $1.4 million toward dozens of science projects that will analyze the effects of legalising cannabis nationwide. While some projects were launched to examine how cannabis use changes post-legalisation, other projects specifically focus on exploring the possible influence of cannabis use in different demographic groups, for example, teenagers. Pregnant women and indigenous communities are also included in Canadian cannabis research efforts.

3. Spain

Spain still prohibits the use of THC in medical cannabis products. However, the country on the Iberian peninsula has been carrying out research initiatives since the 1990s, initially with its research groups at Madrid’s Complutense University. It’s when the country discovered that THC could influence programmed cell death in brain tumours without negatively impacting surrounding cells. Injecting synthetic THC on rats, Spanish scientists sought ways if they can eradicate brain tumours in rodents. Initial results showed the method worked as one-third of the lab rats had their lives prolonged for more than a month. When the same research was repeated in 2002, the team led by Dr Manuel Guzman announced THC could help target incurable brain tumours in rats.  Spaniards have also conducted research to comprehend the overall benefits of the cannabis plant, understand the plant’s genetic components, the variability of species found in the wilderness and production improvement both in original terroirs or when hybridised.  At present, the Spanish Observatory on Medical Cannabis (OECM) is one of the country’s most prestigious institutions taking on cannabis research.

4. The Netherlands

Unsurprisingly, the Netherlands, a country considered the ultimate pilgrimage destination for cannabis tourists, is a foreknown leader in medical cannabis research. Holding the silver medal on our list, the Dutch people can take pride in their nationally sponsored medical marijuana program. It’s one of the three countries globally, alongside Canada and Israel who have such a program. Dutch supported research has produced multiple breakthrough findings in recent years. It has explored whether CBD can influence driving. It has investigated whether the soft drug can create fake memories and if cannabis users should be considered as vulnerable witnesses during crime investigations. This, of course, is just a fraction of where Dutch research is headed.

5. Israel

It's not only the world leader in COVID vaccination, Israel also appears to be a true world leader in medical cannabis research as well. “Work hard and party hard” stands for the country where knowledge of cannabis is being boosted for more than five decades now. THC and the endocannabinoid system were discovered in Israel by world-renowned Israeli marijuana pioneer Raphael Mechoulam in the 1960s. The rest is history.  Israelis can nowadays brag about the world’s largest number of clinical trials testing the benefits of marijuana. They can also brag about being among the first in the world to legalise medical weed and its exports to other countries. And they can also brag about their enormous research facilities packed with hi-tech grow rooms where the buds have no limits. Basically, the country is really at another level when it comes to medical cannabis research. Is your country mentioned in this list? Tell us in the comments.