Saturday 19 June 2021

Colombia Is Becoming A Major Medical Marijuana Producer

While other countries are now passing laws to permit the production, import and export of medical marijuana, Colombia has a leg up on them because it did so three years ago.

Workers prune marijuana plants at a Clever Leaves greenhouse in Pesca, Colombia. The company employs over 450 people. Photo Clever Leaves

The Asociación Colombiana de Industrias de Cannabis (Asocolocanna) – Colombian Cannabis Industry Association’s 29 member companies related to the exploitation of the plant, good practices in the cultivation, manufacture and commercialization of derivatives for medicinal and scientific purposes, have invested more than US$600 million in building medical marijuana facilities.

“This is a marvelous opportunity in a country where drugs have caused so many problems,” explains Rodrigo Arcila, president of Asocolocanna, whose purpose is to promote, protect and guide the development of the cannabis industry within the legal framework in force in Colombia.

- Advertisement -

Arcila told NPR that Colombia can produce cannabis products at lower prices than competitors due to affordable land, relatively low wages and an abundance of skilled farm hands who cut their teeth in Colombia’s booming flower business.

In Colombia, cannabis is considered psychoactive if it contains more than 1% THC.

Colombia sits near the equator, giving it 12 hours of daily sunlight year-round. By contrast, countries with seasonal variations require the extensive use of artificial lights, which drives up production costs.

One of those producers is Patricia Santiago and her family, who were forced to flee their home near Colombia’s Caribbean coast after complaining about neighborhood dope dealers who, in turn, threatened to kill them. But in an odd twist, Santiago now works in the drug trade — at a medical marijuana facility.

At first, Santiago felt like she was breaking the law as she pruned and clipped cannabis plants on a plantation run by a Colombian firm called Clever Leaves. However, the government legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and now Clever Leaves is exporting cannabis-based products to Canada and the United Kingdom.

An aerial view of the Clever Leaves plantation in Pesca. It currently covers 37 acres and plans to expand cultivation to over 200 acres of marijuana plants by 2021. Photo Clever Leaves
- Advertisement -

Rather than a symbol of the country’s dark past of narco-fueled violence, Santiago smiles and says, Colombian drugs “can now be used to treat people.”

At least that’s the bet of a growing number of entrepreneurs who are building vast marijuana plantations and state-of-the-art pharmaceutical laboratories that produce everything from cannabis-based pain relievers for cancer patients to dog treats that act as calming agents.

The medicinal use of cannabis and its derivatives has been legal in Colombia since 2015; and regulation in Colombia has been gradually evolving to the extent that companies have begun to enter initial production stages of cannabinoid extracts and oils.

In the ’60s and ’70s, Colombia weed, mostly grown in the Sierra Nevada mountains near the Caribbean coast, was smuggled by the tons into the United States, but, by the ’80s, the marijuana traffickers, like drug lord Pablo Escobar, soon switched to the more profitable cocaine, that sank the country into a war on drugs, which has led to mass corruption, homicide, and the displacement of an estimated 4 million Colombians over 4 decades.

In recent years Colombia — like Canada, several European and Latin American nations and many U.S. states — has taken a more permissive stance on pot.

In February of this year, Clever Leaves became the first Colombian cannabis company authorized to export into Canada, and, last week, reports it became the first Colombian company certified by a leading regulatory agency to produce medical cannabis at the pharmaceutical level.

- Advertisement -

In April, Clever Leaves and Fotmer Life Sciences of Uruguay announced they will become the first to export legal medical Cannabis products from Latin America to Europe. The two will export cannabis extract and dried marijuana flowers to Germany, which they called the largest market in Europe, with an estimated 700,000 people using medicinal products derived from marijuana.

But, it’s still a longshot.

As NPR notes, it isn’t a guarantee that flowers of the Colombian medical marijuana industry will ever fully bloom — mainly due to a government bureaucracy that often forces startups to wait months or years to secure the proper permits and licenses.

“Pharmaceuticals always come from the global north to South America to Africa to Asia,” says Julián , who co-founded Clever Leaves in 2016. “This is something that is changing that model. This is from Colombia to the world.”

But, with storied infrastructure, an optimal growing climate, and cheap land prices, the Colombian medical marijuana market has all the shakings to become a new drug powerhouse.

Only this time, it’s one that might just help people.

Article originally appeared on Today Colombia and is republished here with permission.

- Advertisement -

We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

Q24N is an aggregator of news for Latin America. Reports from Mexico to the tip of Chile and Caribbean are sourced for our readers to find all their Latin America news in one place.

Related Articles

Couple used fast food delivery services to hide sales of marijuana pastries

HQ - A couple was arrested on suspicion of using fast...

Mexico: Congress passes marijuana legalization bill

Q24N - Mexico's Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday passed legislation that...


Today’s Vehicle Restriction June 19: only “ODDS” can circulate

Today, Saturday, June 19, only vehicles with "ODD" ending plates CAN circulate The measure is countrywide and applied between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm, save...

Europe opens the doors to tourism, these are the requirements

Q TRAVEL - Europe opened the doors to tourism. While worldwide vaccination against covid-19 advances above the levels of each country, the restrictions are...

Lack of space on Racsa’s hard drive paralyzed immigration consultation at the airport this Monday

RICO's DIGEST - We've all had this happen, your computer's hard drive is full and your computer crashes. But we are not the Radiográfica...

Diseases, weather and low prices hit the orange sector in Costa Rica

HQ - The appearance of pests and diseases, in particular the 'dragón amarillo' (yellow dragon), the impact of the weather and a sharp drop...

Informants assisted OIJ in corruption investigations, says the minister

QCOSTARICA - The investigation into alleged bribery of public officials in exchange for contracts for road works, received help from informants within the Consejo...

Plate rupture has potential for stronger quakes

QCOSTARICA - The 5.7-magnitude tremor, felt at 5:27 pmon Thursday, occurred in a maritime zone with the potential for stronger earthquakes, explained Ivonne Arroyo,...

Heavy downpours generated the first phreatic eruption of this year at the Turrialba volcano

QCOSTARICA - Several residents of La Pastora, La Central and Monte Calas, in the vicinity of the Turrialba volcano, heard a loud rumbling early...

The “rebound” effect boosted growth in Costa Rica’s economic activity

QCOSTARICA - Costa Rica's economic activity registered in April 2021 a year-on-year growth of 8.8%, a figure affected by a “base” or “rebound” effect,...

Since 2018 MECO has received contracts from the State for more than ¢139 billion

QCOSTARICA - Almost ¢140 billion colones (US$227 million dollars) is the amount the MECO construction company was able to snare for public works contracts...


Get our daily newsletter with the latest posts directly in your mailbox. Click on the subscribe and fill out the form. It's that simple!

Article originally appeared on Today Colombia and is republished here with permission.

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.