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Trends Journal Goes to Colombia: The global cannabis future

Colombia

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Pharmacielo employee displaying a young plant in their facility.
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Pharmacielo's production facilities in Columbia
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Two vials one containing a marijuana bud, the other a cannabis oil.
By Bradford Beckerman CHIEF CANNABIS ANALYST
Posted

With some two thirds of the U.S. population, and even stronger numbers among many countries, the polls prove the use of cannabis for both personal recreational and medical use and business development is an unstoppable mainstream trend.

Long condemned as a gateway drug for which tens of millions were penalized and sent to penitentiaries for smoking a joint or selling an ounce, tax hungry governments are pushing legalization not to remedy the injustices they imposed upon people victimized for minor offenses but rather to feed needy state coffers with robust tax revenue.

Luring in businesses big and small, the U.S. Congress is being pressured by lobbyists, financial institutions and special interests to legalize it. Major federal legislation is pending that would legalize cannabis nationally and allow banks to do business with cannabis companies.

Furthermore, so extensive is the movement, that business interests are pushing the U.S. Federal Drug Administration to allow adding cannabis into food and drink for retail sales as well as in bars and restaurants.

A thriving $100 billion global cannabis industry already exists. It’s just not an entirely legal business at the moment.

There are currently about 30 countries looking into various forms of legalization. Thus, with so many varied cannabis product lines emerging from the cannabis industry simultaneously in many of these countries, we forecast it will be a trillion-dollar industry by 2035.

As the saying goes, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”

A LOOK INSIDE

With so many international companies preparing for the global cannabis expansion, as the Trends Journal’s resident cannabis expert, I went to Colombia to visit the facilities of one of these companies, PharmaCielo, the dominant player in Colombia’s cannabis sector.

Here’s what I learned. Colombia is well-positioned to be a major player in the global cannabis market. It is one of the few countries that has the ability to scale production rapidly, cultivation expertise and legislative framework to sustainably meet global cannabis demand over the mid- and long-term. In my analysis there are number of factors why Colombia is ideally positioned be one of dominant growth countries for the cannabis industry.

Besides being one the few places in the world where you can efficiently grow cannabis all year long, energy costs are minimal and labor costs are 25 percent of the United States. The country’s ideal growing environment and decades of experience have made it the foremost supplier of other agricultural commodities including coffee, fresh-cut flowers and bananas with global distribution channels in place. Moreover, The International Narcotics Control Board has given Colombia 44 percent of the world’s quota for medicinal cannabis.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

Entering the well-maintained grounds of PharmaCielo, we were greeted by numerous armed but friendly military police and security guards. The tour began with the lab for testing and cloning. It was impressive, spotlessly clean and used the highest technology for cloning that currently exists.

The greenhouses were next. They were large-scale with well-maintained, controlled growing environments that used only organic methods for pest and mold control.

The current 15,000-square-foot processing facility was equally impressive. And, they are building an additional 63,000 square feet for a total of 78,000 square feet just for processing.

I met with the director of processing for PharmaCielo. He is an American with a very impressive scientific background and years of California and Washington state experience where both medicinal and recreational cannabis use is legal. With over $1.6 million in processing equipment, he told me their “through-put” is more than adequate to handle their large scale and growing cultivation harvest.

PharmaCielo, with over 150 registered strains, is committed to becoming the world’s leading supplier of naturally grown and processed, standardized medicinal-grade cannabis oil extracts and related products. I was told, they have no interest in the recreational market at this time.

UNIQUE PRODUCT

I learned what makes their cannabis unique and special. PharmaCielo took 30 indigenous Colombian cannabis strains and have been cross-breeding them with the most diverse cannabinoid strains from around the world. They are proprietary PharmaCielo strains. They are targeted for specific medical uses and ideal for the growing conditions in Colombia. Their goal is to perfect 10 super strains.

They have a strong, positive working relationship with the Colombia government to develop continuing economic growth within the country by expanding Colombia’s medicinal cannabis industry internationally.

PharmaCielo works with Colombia’s indigenous communities, who have centuries of experience cultivating ancient Colombian strains of cannabis for spiritual and medicinal use.

The company also works with the locals by providing shelter and outreach for the homeless and CBD for people addicted to drugs. PharmaCielo’s medical and bio-tech experience has enabled it to use tissue cultures which is the highest-level cloning to develop exact clones of their top strains.

Consistency of product is a must in the emerging medicinal cannabis market. They have over 350 acres of immaculate open-air greenhouses with 12-hour light cycles per day and a 12-month growing season providing reliability of supply, another must.

PharmaCielo is fully licensed by Colombia for commercial worldwide sales. They are in constant production and are building a large inventory of cannabis oil extract for global distribution in 2019 and beyond.

Cool, dark, dry, still storage environments are best for promoting longevity, and when exposed to as few environmental contaminants as possible, their products can last a very long time without changing or losing any potency. They will be ready when European and U.S. cannabis markets develop. Since PharmaCielo is a Canadian-owned company, extensive export to Canada is inevitable. TJ 

Disclaimer: As a contributor to the Trends Journal, Bradford Beckerman's trip was paid for by PharmaCielo.