Surprisingly, in the face of the operational pressures associated with Canada’s looming date of cannabis normalization, the household names of the Canadian market are suddenly shifting focus to Colombia. Seemingly overnight, the South American country once noted for cocaine kingpins and a decades-long guerilla uprising created an advanced cannabis legislative environment – one focused on cannabinoid oils – with a focus on turning past challenge into future opportunity. Colombia has propelled itself into a position of global leadership that has attracted Canada’s cannabis upper echelon, with names like Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis, and Aphria racing among others to establish a presence. What started this whole frenzy and how could this have happened? Well, a Canadian helped birth and is now nurturing the Colombian industry. Canadian entrepreneur Anthony Wile, while researching and writing his 2013 book Financial Freedom, foresaw the global expansion of the then-nascent cannabis industry. ...
Inversión de compañía con cultivos de cannabis asciende a US$40 millones ... Colombia se posiciona como uno de las naciones más atractivas para aportar al desarrollo de medicamentos a partir de plantas con agentes cannabinoides. Una muestra de ello es la estrategia de PharmaCielo, una compañía científica dirigida por el colombo-canadiense Anthony Wile, que invertirá en el país cerca de US$40 millones en investigación y licencias necesarias para poner sus primeros productos (extractos de aceite de cannabis) en las estanterías a partir de 2019. “Colombia merece, más que cualquier otro país, las ganancias que pueden generar los cultivos que tanto daño le han hecho históricamente. Esta es una oportunidad que tiene la nación para reconvertir lo que se cree de esa planta a través de la investigación científica y el estar del lado correcto de la tendencia actual”, dijo Anthony Wile, CEO de PharmaCielo, una empresa que se creó en Canadá y llegó al país en 2017.
Colombia’s climate and farming industry perfectly position it to dominate the global cannabis market. PharmaCielo’s growing facility [is] the largest legally operating cannabis farm in Latin America and home to the first legal cannabis plants in the country. The joint Canadian-Colombian company, PharmaCielo, was the first company to obtain licenses to legally cultivate medical cannabis in Colombia after it was legalized in 2016. Their facility in Rionegro, Antioquia is the beginning of what could become a multibillion-dollar industry. To put this into perspective, legal cannabis could be worth more than the country’s flower, coffee, coal and banana exports—all four of which are among Colombia’s top export products—combined. In North America, it can cost cultivators tens of thousands of dollars to replicate these conditions with artificial heat and lighting. According to some sources, a gram of CBD extract can be produced for as low as $0.35 in Colombia, whereas in Colorado—where indoor cannabis production is commonly used—it would cost roughly $1.75. This is how Colombia could soon produce an estimated one-fifth of the world’s total medical cannabis. And PharmaCielo is positioned to be at the forefront of this boom. . . .
Canadian Ambassador to Colombia Marcel Lebleu recently visited PharmaCielo's Rionegro operations, and posted this note to his LinkedIn page: "I had the pleasure of visiting PharmaCielo, a Canadian company with Colombian operations that produces cannabis for medical use. Cannabis production for medical use can indeed be produced legally in Colombia under a strict licensing process. I also met representatives of 'Mama Cultiva,' a NGO formed by mothers of infants suffering from refractory epilepsy, cancer and other pathologies which promotes the use of cannabis to alleviate pain and minimize the impact of these pathologies. With a competitive climate and research advantage, the Colombian cannabis industry is growing, and Canadian companies play an important role in this growth."
Tired of living in fear of arrest or running afoul of drug traffickers, Romairo Aguirre is ready to destroy his illegal plantation of 1,500 marijuana bushes in the mountainous Cauca region of southwest Colombia and become legitimate. President Santos, who leaves office in August, passed a law two years ago legalizing medical cannabis for domestic use and export. It aims to take the marijuana trade from the hands of Marxist rebels and traffickers, transforming Colombia into a multibillion-dollar producer for the pharmaceutical industry. Andres Lopez, head of Colombia’s National Narcotics Fund that oversees use of legal narcotics, said it was putting in place its team to regulate the industry. The new law calls for rigorous testing to prevent illegal cannabis from entering the medical market. In time, growers estimate that the Andean nation could capture as much as one-fifth of a global market that could be worth $40 billion a year. That would be more than coal exports, and also more than exports of flowers, coffee and bananas combined. The new industry will not produce smokable marijuana but focus on oils, creams and inhalers produced in laboratories and personalized by prescription to each patient, he said. Growers say that production would be enough to treat pain and symptoms of some 4.5 million patients nationally and 60 million in Latin America suffering from conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. ... Pharmacielo, which has a 12-hectare operation in Rionegro, was the first company to receive a license in Colombia and Cock hopes to start commercial production by the end of the year - if the government gives final approval. With banks reluctant to lend to the nascent industry, Pharmacielo is in the process of listing on the Toronto stock exchange, pending regulatory approval.
PharmaCielo is paving the way for cannabis cultivation in Colombia. They are helping rural farming communities previously under the thumb of the exploitative guerrilla groups get into growing medical cannabis. In 2016, Colombia’s government finally struck a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s largest guerrilla group, in a bid to de-escalate the country’s 53-year civil war. ... One Canadian company based in Toronto, PharmaCielo, was the very first to obtain Colombia’s comprehensive cultivation license after President Juan Manuel Santos enacted a law in late 2016 legalizing medical marijuana. The company currently runs its principal cultivation facility out of Rionegro, a small city roughly an hour outside of Medellin, Colombia. But last year, PharmaCielo also announced a partnership with Cooperativa Caucannabis, a collective of small, rural and indigenous cannabis cultivators. This partnership has the potential to legitimize and stimulate the once illicit economies of rural farming communities previously controlled by the country’s exploitative guerrilla groups and paramilitaries. The Colombian government, as part of their peace deal with the FARC, has offered grants to coca-farming families as part of a crop substitution program. Participating families receive food subsidies and other forms of assistance from the Colombian government. This program aims to scale back the production of coca, the raw material used to manufacture cocaine, a process which many rural farmers had long been extorted into helping with. Now, there are roughly 63 families who are participating in the collective with PharmaCielo.
Tens of thousands of Colombians died in the U.S.-backed war on drugs. But after an official about-face on marijuana, Colombia is looking to exchange gun-toting traffickers for corporate backers in a bid to become the Saudi Arabia of legal pot. The new industry is budding here on the outskirts of Medellin, where Pablo Escobar moved marijuana in the 1970s before becoming the “King of Cocaine.” Fifteen years after his death in a last stand with the law, cannabis plants are blooming in the emerald hills beyond the city, this time with the government’s blessing. “You are looking at history,” beamed Camilo Ospina, the lab-coat-wearing chief innovation officer for PharmaCielo Colombia Holdings, gesturing like a showman before a sprawling greenhouse of pungent cannabis plants. His company is one of a fast-rising number of corporations seeking to leverage the “made in Colombia” label in a new age of legalization. “Our advantage is that the Colombian brand already has a mystique,” he said. “We want to intensify that, so that the Colombian cannabis you already know — the Punto Rojo, the Colombian Gold — is the cannabis you want to buy.”
Tras recibir las licencias de fabricación de derivados de cannabis, la mayoría de empresas interesadas en el negocio esperan que les autoricen los cupos para definir qué extensión de áreas pueden sembrar. PharmaCielo Colombia, filial de la holding canadiense del mismo nombre y que opera en el Oriente antioqueño, señaló que a finales de diciembre obtuvo los permisos para iniciar las siembras. “Como el único cultivador que ha recibido la cuota aprobada de parte del Gobierno, estamos muy emocionados de saber que completamos nuestra primera siembra el 31 de diciembre de 2017”, declaró Federico Cock-Correa, director de PharmaCielo Colombia. El empresario agradeció el reconocimiento hecho por las autoridades al plan de negocio de la compañía y destacó la capacidad de plantar inmediatamente una gran y exclusiva variedad de cepas colombianas de cannabis. El Centro de Genética y Propagación de PharmaCielo, ubicado en el municipio de Rionegro (Antioquia) tiene 12,1 hectáreas de invernaderos al aire libre dedicados al cultivo. Mientras maduran las primeras plantas se propagarán más, y se espera que la primera cosecha se dé a mediados del año, para su eventual procesamiento y extracción de aceite.
Luego de obtener las primeras licencias integrales para el cultivo de cannabis en el país, PharmaCielo Colombia Holdings anunció que su aliado Cooperativa Caucannabis recibió un permiso especial para el cultivo de cannabis psicoactivade parte del Ministerio de Justicia. Bajo este permiso, los 63 campesinos y productores que componen la empresa con sede en Cauca, empezarán a cultivar flores de cannabis para procesar extractos de aceite. Para Federico Cock-Correa, CEO de PharmaCielo Colombia Holdings, “este abordaje inclusivo que el gobierno asumió, es muy significante, ya que asegura que las comunidades indígenas que han cultivado antiguas cepas, puedan tener su debido lugar en la industria del cannabis”. El directivo aclaró, además, que bajo este anunció se da pie para que los indígenas y campesinos continúen reconstruyendo sus vidas y la productividad de las regiones.
Canadian companies hope to cultivate a medical marijuana juggernaut in Colombia by combining Toronto’s capital and technological expertise with the Latin American nation’s favorable climate and location. Industry executives said they plan to use Colombia as a springboard to serve Latin America’s 400-plus million people who live in nations where some form of marijuana is legal. When high-THC medical cannabis becomes available nationwide next year in Colombia, the country is poised to become the second-largest federally regulated MMJ market in the world – behind Germany. Industry sources estimate its potential market at 3 million-6 million patients. PharmaCielo, headquartered in Toronto, envisions Colombia being the world’s top producer of medical marijuana oil. Using Toronto as its international base, the company plans to produce a large amount of organic MMJ oil in Colombia for international distribution, ultimately targeting around two dozen countries. ...
Vice talks to the CEO of PharmaCielo, who appeared on this week's "Weediquette." ... Colombia is at a crossroads. In November 2016, the government signed a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), bringing an end to decades of conflict. ... In Cauca—a verdant, mountainous region in southwest Colombia—PharmaCielo hopes to create positive change. The Canadian Colombian company has roots in the flower business, but for the past four years, its CEO, Federico Cock-Correa, has worked closely with the government to develop laws that will pave the way for legal medicinal cannabis cultivation. Correa speaks of PharmaCielo with a humanitarian bent, focusing on the company’s desire to aid Cauca’s farmers toward a more stable life. He talks benevolently about “the wellness of the people,” and while speaking with VICE, he was preparing to fly to the Caucua town of Corinto after a mudslide caused three fatalities. He prioritizes building up the impoverished province. ...
El Gobierno concluyó el proceso de definición de las reglas para la producción, transformación y destinación del cannabis a fines médicos y científicos. Las resoluciones definen quiénes serán considerados pequeños y medianos cultivadores –y por tanto, obtener beneficios– y fijan los requisitos técnicos y las tarifas para el cultivo de la planta y su transformación en productos medicinales, fitoterapéuticos y homeopáticos. Tal como quedó establecido en la Resolución 579 de 2017, expedida por los ministerios de Salud, Justicia y Agricultura, aquellos que cultiven en una superficie de media hectárea (5.000 metros cuadrados) o menos son considerados pequeños y medianos cultivadores y, por tanto podrán acceder a asesoría técnica, asignación prioritaria de cupos y compra de su producción por parte del transformador. La normativa, en efecto establece que el 10% del total de la producción del transformador debe provenir de un pequeño y mediano productor. ...
En un paraje de Rionegro, en medio de extensos cultivos de crisantemos y orquídeas y luego de transitar por un camino empedrado con palmas y arbustos a lado y lado, se encuentra Pharmacielo. Se trata de una empresa que el pasado 27 de junio obtuvo la licencia para producir derivados de la marihuana. Con dicha licencia, esta empresa colombiana, con casa matriz en Canadá, podrá iniciar la transformación de la planta en extractos de aceite de cannabis medicinal, que después será utilizado por otras compañías para la producción de resinas, pomadas y todo tipo de medicamentos para el cáncer, la artritis o la epilepsia. Para hacer posible el procesamiento, aseguró el director ejecutivo de Pharmacielo, Federico Cock Correa, la empresa comenzará la adecuación de la fábrica de producción, la importación de maquinaria y nueva tecnología, así como la construcción de laboratorios de investigación y, a través de la Universidad de Antioquia, dará comienzo a pruebas piloto con un número limitado de especímenes.
In a July 13 story in Maclean’s, a Canadian national current affairs magazine, Brian Hutchinson, who spent time on the ground with PharmaCielo’s leadership team at the company’s operational headquarters in Rionegro, Colombia, writes, “The facility is Canadian-controlled, its Toronto-based parent company, PharmaCielo Ltd., run by a board of globe-trotting executives and investors, several of whom are from Big Tobacco and Pharma. But the heart of the operation is here in Colombia.” The government’s legalization of medicinal cannabis, he writes, means “Colombia is moving in step with other countries, recognizing that cannabis has medicinal and economic value, that it can be exploited and taxed just like any other commodity, such as cut flowers.” PharmaCielo Colombia COO Marcelo Siqueira explains, “The government believes Colombia has paid its price in blood and treasure with the war on drugs, that it’s time to move on.” The company has been granted a processing license and is now awaiting receipt of its cultivation permit. “Unlike other countries where dried marijuana flower is legally exchanged, Colombia has decided to allow only the sale of cannabis oil, for medicinal use inside the country, and for export to countries that allow it. [PharmaCielo’s crop] will be processed into oil, then shipped to markets inside the country and to legal markets around the world, including Canada.” PharmaCielo Ltd. president and CEO Patricio Stocker said the company plans to eventually produce cannabis from 1,000 hectares of Colombian farmland. To put this in perspective, MacLean’s notes that’s “enough to yield at least two million of kilograms of dried marijuana flower per year, and as much as 250,000 kilograms of oil,” and points out Colombia’s natural advantages for cannabis cultivation include a warm climate, abundant rainfall and 12 hours of daylight year-round. “Factor in low labour costs and the company figures it can produce dried flower at 10 cents a gram, one-tenth or better the cost of production in marijuana-friendly countries such as Canada, where plants are grown indoors – at great effort – by 50 federally-licensed companies for the legal medicinal market.” Siqueira adds: “The costs and the carbon footprint associated with cannabis production in Canada are absurd. It’s like growing coffee beans indoors. It can be done, but should it? Energy consumption, water diversion, pesticides, water contamination, these are already issues.”
With the appointment of PharmaCielo Ltd. Chairman Simon Langelier as a non-executive director, “Imperial Brands Plc gained the services of a leader in the field of medicinal cannabis as the British tobacco manufacturer seeks to further its push beyond cigarettes,” writes Bloomberg. Langelier joined PharmaCielo in 2015 after a 30-year career at Philip Morris International, which included heading up the next-generation products unit from 2007-2010. During that period he established a joint venture for the worldwide commercialization of Philip Morris’s smoke-free products. Bloomberg notes Langelier’s experience at PharmaCielo will be beneficial should Imperial choose to enter a future federally legal US cannabis market, which is projected to surpass $50 billion in sales this decade.