Freedom of association

A new association is born to represent small and medium growers.

By: Mat Youkee

All industries require strong associations, but the importance of a unified voice for the cannabis industry – a nascent business at the whim of often confused or contradictory government policies – is heightened. From its earliest days, the Colombian industry has been represented by ASOCOLCANNA, which has grown to include 26 companies in September 2019.

At the ExpoCannabiz Latino hub conference held in Bogotá’s Sheraton hotel that month, its president Rodrigo Arcila reminded the audience of the organization’s achievements to date. These include the inclusion of sativa on the government’s list of natural plants, improvements to customs and product licensing legislation and clarifications on the rules surrounding non psychoactive cannabis cosmetic products.

However, for some time there has been a growing division between small and larger players in the industry. Many of the changes to Decree 613, expected to come into force shortly, place additional barriers on LPs with limited financial resources. In September, President Ivan Duque said that licenses had been awarded in a chambona style (loosely: rushed or sloppily) and that he would not allow “the proliferation of garage companies.”

A new association, the Camara Colombiana de Cannabis Medicinal e Industrial (C3), which aims to represent the smaller players, was formed on September 12. “In the light of the change in government attitudes towards the industry, we feel it is necessary for the country’s small and medium growers to have a unified voice towards regulatory change,” said Santiago Restrepo, Co-Founder of Green North, a local consultancy that played a key role in establishing the body.

The camera will be headed by César Díaz, who brings a decade of experience representing the Colombian mining industry. The key task will be for the association to educate and work with government officials who are still coming to learn about the industry, said Díaz.