About Cannabis Innovate

Cannabis Innovate is a new international initiative bringing together under one organizational umbrella the expertise and experience of three principal entities.

The first of these is the Transnational Institute’s (TNI) Drugs and Democracy Programme. Based in the Netherlands, TNI is an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable planet. Established in 1995, by Martin Jelsma – who remains the director - the Drugs and Democracy programme analyses drug policies and trends in the illicit drugs market, examines underlying causes of drug production and consumption and the impacts of current drug policies on conflict, development and democracy.

Consequently, the Programme works on a range of intersecting issue areas including international drug policy at the UN level and various aspects of cannabis policy.

Second is the Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO), a relatively recent addition to the list of drug policy research centres, programmes and foundations working in the drug policy issue area. Set up in 2013 and currently based at Swansea University, UK, the Observatory aims to promote evidence and human rights-based drug policy through the comprehensive and rigorous reporting, monitoring and analysis of policy development at national and international levels. Like TNI, among a variety of projects, the GDPO also works on cannabis and UN level issues.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, TNI and GDPO have been collaborating on several projects since 2013, perhaps most notable among them the 2014 report, Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition, and more recently work around options for UN treaty reform in light of moves within a number of jurisdictions towards legally regulated markets for non-medical and non-scientific cannabis use.

With these symmetries in mind, and driven to a large extent by TNI’s longstanding and groundbreaking work with the producers of crops deemed to be illicit – including those growing cannabis in Latin America, the Caribbean and North Africa – the decision was made to engage in some practical and impact oriented work within the rapidly emerging field of medical cannabis, particularly to explore the possibility of developing a model for fair trade medical cannabis within traditional producer nations in the so-called ‘global south’

To that end, a new initiative -Cannabis Innovate – was begun in November 2018. Drawing on TNI and related expertise, Innovate is collaboration between Swansea University (GDPO) and the third entity to be introduced: Equinox International.

Committed to a fair-trade approach that goes beyond the standard Corporate Social Responsibility, Equinox International is a new company seeking to improve quality of life through leading cannabis research, innovative cultivation technology, science based medicine and quality care. Its mission is to improve and enhance the standard of health, comfort and happiness experienced and available to both the individual and society.

With all that in mind, Cannabis Innovate aims to provide research and analysis across the three pillars of policy, legislation and technological innovation. Amidst the rapid expansion of medical cannabis markets around the world, it seeks to operate as a knowledge hub offering clarity and solution-oriented outputs and activities to a range of end-users operating within an increasingly complex commercial and policy environment. Work is underpinned by the promotion of ethically sourced and environmentally sustainable medical cannabis from traditional producer countries and the belief that improved access to cannabis for medical use predominantly within the global north need not lead to the exclusion and continued marginalization of small-scale cannabis farmers within the Global South.