By Roland Sebestyén
After Canada became the largest exporter of dried cannabis flower in the world, it is now looking over its shoulder as Colombia, which recently instigated some legislative changes that position the country to become the global cannabis leader, approaching fast.
According to a press release, the near-perfect growing conditions, skilled labour and friendly regulations have underscored Colombia’s emergence in the legal cannabis space since the country first allowed the production of medical cannabis just over five years ago.
However, until now, dried cannabis flower, or buds, could only be processed for export as a medicinal oil or extract for fear that flowers would find their way to the black market.
The new law puts Colombia “at the forefront in terms of regulatory competitiveness,” according to President Duque, adding that his country will now participate in new markets, including food, beverages, cosmetics, and textiles, in addition to pharmaceuticals.
Upon signing the decree, Duque quoted experts in saying legal cannabis will represent a $64 billion global market by 2024 while noting that cannabis will serve as a tool for “economic reactivation” in Colombia post-COVID-19.
Colombia’s Minister of Justice Wilson Ruiz said: “According to a 2019 study, in Colombia, the cannabis sector generated 17.3 agricultural jobs per hectare.”
The Colombian hierarchy seems determined to catapult the country into global leadership as a legal cannabis exporter in order to boost the economy and create a lot of jobs at home.
These circumstances may play right into the hands of Flora Growth Corp., which is focused on cannabis cultivation and processing operations in Colombia to supply international markets.
The new decree could prove to be a bonanza for established licensed producers, especially when considering the extremely low production costs and that dried cannabis flower represents the majority of sales in countries with mature markets, such as the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, and Australia.
A 25-Fold Advantage
The free sunlight and water in three pilot plantings on 4.94 acres at Flora’s Cosechemos farm allowed for testing of 30 varieties of non-psychoactive (low-THC) cannabis and optimisation of its growing techniques, which resulted in a cost base of just $0.06 per gram.
That compares to $1.89 per gram in North America, calculated through an average of four major North American licensed producers.
Flora’s cost is even 60% lower than its nearest Colombian peer. In response to the updated laws in Colombia, Flora promptly signed a letter of intent with an international distributor to supply dried flower and derivatives immediately following the first commercial harvest and obtaining all requisite import licenses.
With that harvest, Flora also expects to start supplying the Australian markets with medical cannabis, as well as over-the-counter CBD products via a partnership with Evergreen Pharmacare.
The production of high-CBD strains of cannabis is already well underway at Cosechemos, with prep work now being done to propagate strains high in THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis.
Moreover, an extraction lab at the facility constructed to EU-GMP standards is expected to be completed this quarter, for which Flora will seek EU-GMP certification.
As soon as Flora receives the requisite paperwork in order for it to export its cannabis products, the company will be positioned to immediately capitalise on the massive global dried cannabis flower market segment that was previously unavailable.