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Colombia launches massively into medical cannabis production

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — In the greenhouses of Clever Leaves , dressed in rubber gowns and gloves, a cap screwed on the head, employees are busy: they water, cut and cut cannabis plants, which generally reach a height of one meter fifty before the harvest.

The flowers will then be dried and crushed to give a powder that will be transformed in a laboratory into oils, essences or crystals.

Since 2016, the Colombian government has legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and companies like Clever Leaves (“Smart Sheets”) are flourishing on the market. With sixteen hectares of cannabis plantations which it intends to expand the area to eighty by 2021, the young company seeks to carve a place on the world market.

From smuggling to the pharmaceutical industries

If exporting products to the United States remains illegal, Canada or Great Britain are prime destinations. Above all, Colombia is a breeding ground for cannabis cultivation, for both historical and geographical reasons.

Near Ecuador, the country enjoys twelve hours of sunshine a day, which significantly reduces the burden of artificial lighting that must be assumed by other producing countries. Land is cheap and so is labor, and it is still plentiful in skilled agricultural workers – a culture of drugs requires.

In the years 1960-1970, contraband cannabis, mainly grown in the Sierra Nevada mountains near the Caribbean coast, was exported by tons to the United States. The 1980s and 1990s had preferred cocaine, Pablo Escobar changing his tune, but with the legalization of cannabis for therapeutic use, a new market, this time legal, has opened.

Investment and export

In the Colombian Association of Cannabis Manufacturers , Asocolcanna , twenty-nine companies have already invested more than $ 600 million (about € 540 million) to build infrastructure related to the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes.

This situation also attracts foreign investors, such as Khiron, a Canadian company founded in 2017 and based in Bogota, which also has plantations in Chile and Uruguay. The Colombian bureaucracy nevertheless remains a significant obstacle, since obtaining permits and appropriate licenses can take months or even years.

 

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