In our past discussions on Colombia, one topic that came up was Colombia’s perfect setup for marijuana cultivation. The Financial Times also points out how Colombia’s advantages – cheap labour, better climate and plenty of experienced workers – help keep prices down and give the Colombian cannabis industry its competitive edge.
But in order to provide medical marijuana to outside licensed producers, having the aforementioned advantages means nothing. The country may have the tools, infrastructure and labour force to get started, but these individuals are used to the unregulated black market.
Colombia is about to get hit with some rules. Their ability to follow them will ultimately decide the Colombian cannabis industry’s fate.
A Bombardment of Investors
Colombia’s up-and-coming medical marijuana breakout has not gone unnoticed. Major Canadian producers – including major LP Canopy Growth – have connections with South America.
This is hardly surprising. Uruguay, after all, was the first country to legalize marijuana, making its home continent Ground Zero for major cannabis expansion.
Colombia’s position in the industry generated enormous hype, thanks to the influx of business. The Financial Times explains:
“The excitement over cannabis in Colombia has reached fever pitch with some local media reports suggesting the country could supply two-fifths of the world’s marijuana and earn more from it than it does from coal or cut flowers. Farmers have been encouraged to switch out of traditional crops like coffee and bananas to grow weed instead.”
Marijuana may be a lucrative opportunity on the surface, but there are several conditions that could put the industry out of reach for some time.
Colombia is entitled to impose its own rules on cannabis cultivation, processing, distribution and sale – as long as those sales stay in their home country. But exporting to other locations means that the South American partners and subsidiaries will have to play by their clients’ rules.
Consequently, staff with black market experience will effectively have to be retrained to follow certain standards and growing practices. South America needs safe, reliable growing materials, cannot use certain pesticides, needs to meet cleanliness and safety standards, etc.
The checklist is endless, but every box needs to be marked. According to the Financial Times:
“…industry experts sound a note of caution. The production of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis is a highly specialised process — it is not as simple as planting a few marijuana seeds, harvesting the crop and turning it into medicine.”
Andrés López, former director of Colombia’s National Narcotics Fund – a regulating body for legal drugs – also explains:
“It might be true that Colombia is the best country in the world for cannabis cultivation because of the climate and sunlight and because land and labour are cheap. But that isn’t enough. To produce medical cannabis you need the very highest quality standards.”
Unfortunately, the high standards required to put medical cannabis in compliance means smaller cultivators are effectively out of luck. If they lack the capital to build operations that pass inspections, then entering the industry is impossible.
Security is another concern. However, this goes beyond the risk of break-ins or robberies. Instability and corruption pose a serious threat. Some individuals fear that the rising industry will eventually fall under the control of organized crime.
The outcome still remains uncertain. However, ready or not, the industry is developing rapidly. Hopefully, it will be able to enjoy real success either immediately or after some adjustment.
WeedAdvisor’s Involvement in the Colombian Cannabis Market
With Colombia’s rise in the medical cannabis industry, WeedAdvisor is proud to be among the many businesses investing time and effort into a promising country.
Regulations will be difficult to meet and maintain. This is why we offer a variety of business solutions for functions like POS, compliance, inventory tracking, safety and real-time data monitoring.