Colombia, the Biggest Cocaine Exporter, now aims to be the Biggest Cannabis Exporter
The Colombian government has been debating whether to allow cannabis exports for the past few years. While cannabis was already allowed to be exported, many restrictions were involved. The most significant issue was that cannabis flowers were prohibited from being sold. The decision to lift the prohibition, which was announced in July 2021, is a big deal for Colombia and its neighbours in Latin America. It also could have significant consequences around the world and in the cannabis industry.
The country's president Ivan Duque said at a press conference, "Colombia will be one of the most important countries in the world in terms of production and export of marijuana." He added that he hoped it would become an essential part of Colombia's economy, generating jobs and tax revenue. In order to maximize these benefits, he said his administration would regulate cultivation so as not to encourage drug use among Colombians or illegal sales abroad. The hope is that by doing so, they will not only be able to reduce drug-related violence but also earn some money from their natural resources.
The History Behind Cannabis Flowers in Colombia
Colombia has participated in supplying cannabis for decades, just not in the legal sense. Its climate is perfect for growing the plant. Combine it with inexpensive labour and illegal trading operations, it made it simple for the illegal cannabis trading industry to thrive. In the early 1970s, cannabis flowers were smuggled into the United States of America where it was able to be transported throughout the country.
However, Colombia has taken many steps to try to establish itself as a legal international trading hub for cannabis products. The downside was that all exports were not allowed to contain any cannabis flowers, which significantly decreased the number of products that could be sent overseas. With the ban now being lifted, this could completely revolutionize the cannabis industry in Colombia.
Colombia isn't the only country in South America trying to capitalize on the cannabis industry. In fact, other countries in South America, such as Peru, Ecuador, and Uruguay, have already legalized the production of marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, they don't necessarily have the same production capacity as Colombia.
A Pathway to Legal Colombian Cannabis Flower Exports
Colombia hasn't been in the legal cannabis industry for a long time. In fact, they only started legally exporting the substance in early 2019. The first batches were sent to Canada from Colombia for research purposes. Back then, it was not legal to export for commercial purposes but was allowed for research purposes.
However, in 2020, the SIC, or Superintendency of Industry and Commerce, which is an agency that regulates business practices to ensure they're fair, wrote a letter to recommend that Colombia should lift the ban and allow exports of the cannabis flower.
The SIC wasn't the only entity pushing for this movement. In fact there were many prominent players that pushed for the ban to be lifted, including:
- The Colombian government, who is seeking to take advantage of new economic opportunities from cannabis exporters and potential investors
- A small group of wealthy families who back the idea that Colombia can become a global leader in marijuana production for both medical and recreational purposes
- Business elites with ties to President Duque and the ruling party
- Push from giant cannabis movers in Colombia, including companies such as Clever Leaves, Avicanna, North Bud Farms, Khiron, and PharmaCielo.
President Ivan Duque officially signed the degree lifting this ban on July 23rd, 2021, at an event held at Clever Leaves, which is one of many giant companies that already grows medical cannabis in Colombia.
The decision to lift the ban has been seen as controversial by some because it could lead Colombia back into international scrutiny for human rights abuses related to its production of cocaine which is often exported internationally. But others see this as an opportunity for Colombia to diversify its economy and be able to provide for both legal and illegal exports.
The Future of Cannabis Exports in Colombia
Unlike other countries that need to replicate the ideal environment to grow cannabis, Colombia has the advantage of already having the ideal climate to grow and cultivate cannabis. Furthermore, because of their ability to export so much more, they can position themselves to become a world leader in cannabis exports. This shift would not only positively influence the Colombian economy but also allow the country to purchase cannabis for cheaper than they could produce it, which can benefit other neighbouring countries as well.
While oils and seeds were already being sold prior to this ban lift, Colombia was missing a significant market for bulk flowers. This demand is only projected to increase as more countries lift restrictions and make cannabis legal for their residents. In fact, the government predicts that the medical cannabis business could become worth more than 64 billion dollars by 2024.
Along with the growth of this business sector in Colombia, legalizing the process helps the Colombian government impose stricter regulations on the entire business operation, which could help promote safer work conditions and less crime.
The future of cannabis exports in Colombia is a bright one. The industry has been growing rapidly, and predictions show that this trend will not slow down anytime soon. It's clear that now is the time for Colombian businesses to start looking at how they can get involved in exporting cannabis products because it won't be long before even more companies or farmers jump to become a part of this growing industry.