In some country word association, “oil” triggers a response of “Saudi Arabia.” How about “cannabis?” Probably “Canada.” While fair, arguably the response one day soon will be “Colombia.”
There are 18 countries worldwide that allow the import and export of medical marijuana products. Canada is the most widely known, but the fact is that Colombia is the name investors should be talking about. Situated in the northern tip of South America, the republic has an ideal climate, geography and regulatory support after the passage of legislation in 2015 reversed decades of drug-fueled violence into an industry that has now seen over $600 million in investment in the burgeoning legal medical cannabis industry.
As the global worldwide marijuana market grows by leaps and bounds, Canadian companies like Canopy Growth are the talk of the space as the world’s biggest cannabis companies. The fact remains that Colombia’s vertically integrated Clever Leaves is already cultivating an impressive 540,000 square feet of cannabis in the first phase of a facility that will reach 1.5 million square feet. Earlier this year, Clever Leaves garnered all necessary approvals and made the first export of dried cannabis flower to…Canada.
The takeaway? Colombia is quietly becoming a global heavyweight in the legal cannabis industry. It is with good reason that Las Vegas-based One World Pharma (OTC: OWPC) got in front of the movement and started planting crops last year in the Colombian cannabis hub of Popayan.
Colombia’s reputation for premium cannabis precedes it, albeit of the black market variety. With medical cannabis now legal, the quality does not change but the country’s reputation does. This change in perception is in lockstep with the broader arc of the changing medical marijuana narrative, fueled by the increased education on the therapeutic merits of the plant to treat everything from dry skin to epileptic seizures to chronic pain.
Because of its position in relation to the equator, the climate is ideal and stable. Colombia sees about 12 hours of sunshine daily year-round and maintains an average temperature around 66 degrees Fahrenheit. Even rainfall is nearly perfect with the chance of showers in the range of 65-72% every day accompanied by light breezes. The country even boasts volcanic soil which is advantageous for growing plants. As the coffee bean capital of the world (not to mention being an acclaimed producer of flowers), Colombia’s international export routes are already well established.
The weather, soil and infrastructure, inclusive of a workforce skilled in agriculture, helps keep production cost substantially lower. According to Colombia Cannabis Investor editor Mat Youkee, dried flower cannabis can be produced in Colombia for about $0.50-$0.80 per gram versus about $2.00 per gram in the U.S.
The Colombian government recently estimated that medical cannabis could end up comprising the country’s third largest export market. “It’s possible to be a very important player at an international level in terms of exports. The estimates show we could effectively be at the level of $6 billion annually,” commerce vice minister Saul Pineda told attendees at the country’s first annual cannabis conference.
Published: October 28, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News