Company Profile: Organic Sativa

Cultivation: 3.5ha in Antioquia Licenses Obtained: Production, Export, National use Licenses Under Approval: Cultivation, Seeds HQ: Medellín

In his 16 years working an orthopedist in Medellín, Pablo Mena frequently came across patients using marijuana for medicinal purposes, rubbing their aching joints with a mixture of cannabis and alcohol. “It’s a traditional medicine here, people frequently ask if they can apply marijuana and alcohol to ease pain and I usually agree because I have seen the benefits over the years” he told CCI. When the government opened the door to medicinal marijuana cultivation in Colombia, Mena was one of the first to apply.

In January 2016 he began the process, working with agricultural engineers to find a suitable project. However, a delayed insurance policy meant his firm, Organic Sativa, missed the first draft of licenses and highlighted the importance of working in parallel to ensure all licenses and paperwork are in line. After a year navigating Colombia’s bureaucracy, the firm was awarded licenses to produce medicinal marijuana products and to export.

The firm has applied for a production allocation of over 3000 kilograms of extracts, which would require many more tons in raw materials. “In my view the production license needs to come before cultivation,” says Mena. “You see many companies with cultivation licenses who have yet to start growing because there aren’t enough firms with manufacturing quotas approved. Once our seed license is approved and our quotas awarded, we will move quickly to attain the cultivation license.” Organic Sativa already has a 3.5ha plot, complete with environmental permits and approved security procedures ready to seed when the time comes.

The next step for the firm could be to request a license for scientific research, seeing as guidelines from the Ministry of Justice imply a requirement of local doctors for the research and development of new medicinal marijuana products. Mena estimates the first stage of the project will require investment of $5m. Although Canadian firms have been on the acquisition trail in Colombia, looking to use the country as a source of cheap production, Mena believes the Latin country should seek to develop as many value-added products and ancillary services domestically.

“We’re going to invest in the best greenhouse, but the most exciting part is the laboratory,” he says. “We want to export prime materials for foreign companies to create their own products but we’re also going to develop products and medicines with a high processing value. I think “made in Colombia” medicinal products are a great way to add value for our country.”