Colombia’s cannabis business was long overseen by the country’s largest rebel group, which dominated this region of Cauca, taxed its drugs and became internationally notorious for trafficking in billions of dollars in illicit substances. But when the government signed a peace deal with the fighters last year, the state swept in and reclaimed this remote mountain village, threatening to end the trade. But now, local citizens have an unlikely option: growing marijuana with the government’s blessing instead. A Canadian company called PharmaCielo, with the government’s approval, is working to produce the drug legally in Colombia and is looking to hire. It is an unorthodox experiment by Colombia, one that underscores the region’s changing attitudes toward drugs after decades of fighting them. In the coming weeks, the government says, it will begin processing licenses for a small number of companies, including PharmaCielo, under a 2015 law that allows the cultivation of medical marijuana. Rarely has a country taken an illegal drug overseen by a criminal organization and tried to replace it with the same crop produced legally, sold by corporations. “Here we have an entirely new opportunity,” said Alejandro Gaviria, Colombia’s health minister, whose agency is issuing the licenses. He argues legal drugs could become an important economic tool for postconflict Colombia. Federico Cock-Correa, who heads up PharmaCielo’s Colombia subsidiary and promises to pay his growers far more than what they earned during the war, said government officials were fascinated by the idea of using legal, medical cannabis as a tool for development once the rebels were out of the picture. The 2015 law allows medical marijuana cultivation for the domestic market and the export of medical marijuana products like oils and creams.
In Colombia … “The medical marijuana industry can become bigger than coffee, bigger than flowers,” said Patricio Stocker, CEO of PharmaCielo, the first company licensed to roll out production of medical marijuana in Colombia. “Our aim is to help the most [troubled] regions in the country [as] Colombia is getting out of a war and getting into a peace process,” he said. “It is not just developing the cannabis business. This will help generate funds to develop other businesses. Politicians and local communities want to develop the region and cannabis, combined with other agricultural activity, will take them out of poverty.”
Jim Rogers, who retired from the Quantum Fund, cofounded with George Soros, at age 37 and is well known for his insight into commodity markets, seems pretty bearish these days on almost everything, but one commodity he likes is cannabis, especially that which will be grown in Colombia. According to the New York Times, Rogers is an investor in PharmaCielo, a Canadian company we have featured several times over the past few months that is developing an export business in the Rionegro region. He also serves as an advisor.
Like many drug barons in Colombia, Federico Cock-Correa wants to sell his product globally. Just 15 miles outside Medellín, Mr. Cock-Correa is looking to replace vast acres of flowers with marijuana plants, with plans to export the harvest. But unlike the brutal heroin and cocaine trade that once flourished nearby, his operation has the government’s stamp of approval.
As Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed into law on July 8 the scientific and medical use of marijuana, it offers new prospects for turning illegal drugs into positive uses. This law, first drafted in 2014, met with strict opposition from conservative political forces, before Santos approved it, stating it was part of a new strategy to deal differently with the war on drugs in the country. Colombia has strict rules concerning the production, sale, import and export, transportation or use of the seeds of marijuana.
Tras recibir la licencia para procesar plantas de cannabis con fines médicos y científicos, la compañía PharmaCielo Colombia Holdings, ubicada en Rionegro, Antioquia, solicitará la licencia complementaria para cultivar la marihuana requerida. La autorización de procesamiento fue otorgada por el Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social, pero la aprobación para el cultivo debe concederla el Consejo Nacional de Estupefacientes.
Members of Colombia’s FARC guerilla group, set to reintegrate into society once a peace deal is finalized, could find jobs in legal marijuana production under a new government plan to boost the rural economy by tapping into the medicinal cannabis market, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
Esta primera licencia fue otorgada a la firma canadiense PharmaCielo. La licencia habilitará al titular a transformar cosechas de cannabis en derivados – como extractos, aceites o resinas – para exportación, uso nacional o fines de investigación. La licencia permitirá a sus titulares empezar las operaciones de adecuación de plantas de producción, importación de maquinaria y nueva tecnología, construcción de laboratorios de investigación y pruebas piloto con un número limitado de plantas.