- Title: Facing stiff competition, will Colombia's marijuana industry go up in smoke?
- Date: 7th October 2019
- Summary: PESCA, BOYACA, COLOMBIA (RECENT - OCTOBER 2, 2019) (REUTERS) CANNABIS PLANT VARIOUS OF WORKERS ATTENDING TO CANNABIS AT PLANTATION PLANTS FLOWER ON CANNABIS PLANT (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CLEAVER LEAVES EXECUTIVE, JULIAN WILCHES, SAYING: "The President of the Republic (Ivan Duque) said that they support the growth of the (medicinal cannabis) industry in an organised and controlled way. We want this to be quicker and better. However, we are facing a sector that is growing and developing so hopefully waiting times will go down. There are still some regulatory issues missing for a patient to access these (medicinal cannabis) products in Colombia." VARIOUS OF CANNABIS PLANTS AT PLANTATION WORKER AT PLANTATION DETAIL OF PLANT WORKER AT PLANTATION PLANT BEING CLIPPED WORKER AT PLANTATION WORKERS HARVESTING PLANTATION (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CLEAVER LEAVES EXECUTIVE, JULIAN WILCHES, SAYING: "There's competition in our backyards, in Brazil, Peru and Mexico, these countries have set objectives and are moving towards them. We are seeing a unique opportunity in Colombia for the first time, where it could be a leader in a high-value sector. We have been leaders in coffee, in bananas, in the primary economy and the economy for extractions. This (medicinal cannabis) is a high-value industry and we can be world leaders. Will we do it or not? I think at the heart of it that is the question." VARIOUS OF WORKERS HARVESTING CANNABIS PLANT FLOOR AT PLANTATION SOPO, CUNDINAMARCA, COLOMBIA (RECENT - OCTOBER 2, 2019) (REUTERS) SAMPLES FOR MEDICINAL CANNABIS PRODUCTS MEDICINAL CANNABIS PRODUCTS IN LABORATORY
- Embargoed: 21st October 2019 17:23
- Keywords: marijuana competition cannabis Colombia
- Location: PESCA, BOYACA + SOPO, CUNDINAMARCA, COLOMBIA
- City: PESCA, BOYACA + SOPO, CUNDINAMARCA, COLOMBIA
- Country: Colombia
- Topics: Government/Politics,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001B03J96V
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: An intense scent hangs in the air at the 15-hectare La Chacra medicinal cannabis farm in central Colombia, where marijuana plants blossom in the warm closeness of its huge, heavily-secured greenhouse.
It is one of the world's biggest crops, but the farm, run by cannabis company Clever Leaves, has only managed to export a few marijuana derivatives because of the tight regulations threatening to choke Colombia's ganja industry.
Colombia was one of the first countries to regulate the cultivation, commercialisation and export of marijuana products. But businesses that bet on cannabis complain that delays in regulatory adjustments are stemming exports and discouraging potential investors. The problem is especially serious given competition from other Latin American countries, such as Uruguay, they say.
Clever Leaves, which has investors from the United States and runs the farm in the central province of Boyaca as well as a sophisticated laboratory outside of the capital Bogota, sent 360 grams of dried marijuana to Canada in February - the first legal export of cannabis from Colombia. In July, it dispatched a 6,000-bottle shipment of supplements to London.
Colombian-Canadian growers Pharmacielo exported a similar quantity of derivatives to Switzerland at around the same time, after three years in business.
Colombia, one of the world's top producers of illegal drugs, has complicated regulations that demand legal cannabis growers get permissions from bodies ranging from agriculture and medical authorities to the anti-narcotics police and drug regulators.
Security regulations are stiff - requiring growers to have cameras, high electric fences around crops and regular contact with the police. The movement of crops to the lab is monitored by satellite and sometimes accompanied by bodyguards. Visitors to the farm sign in with fingerprints.
Authorities take between 12 and 18 months to award licenses and growers must then wait between 3 and 6 months to get yearly permissions that establish the size of their crops and regulate the production of derivatives, like oils and creams.
The government has defended its progress and said there will be advances in rules before the end of the month.
Medicinal cannabis could eventually bring in $6 billion a year, making it Colombia's third-largest source of foreign exchange, the government has said. But the export headaches are already hashing the mellow of foreign investors, who initially poured some $400 million into the industry over three years.
The risk is that businesses will look elsewhere in the region, to countries were production and export look set to prove easier, experts say. Swift regulation in Uruguay, Peru, Mexico and possibly Brazil could erase Colombia's initial head-start, businesses warn.
(Production: Camilo Cohecha)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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