‘Green era’ of Colombian medicinal cannabis

For two days, CannaCiencia attendees gathered at Bogotá’s iconic Tequendama Hotel.

By: Juliana Salazar

Organized by Muisca Capital Group and cannabis entrepreneur network, Red de Emprendedores Cannábicos, the second edition of CannaCiencia offered a diverse range of commercial expos and speakers. Medical professionals, scientists and regulatory affairs experts took to the stage to share their unique perspectives on different challenges present in the medicinal cannabis space.

Steve DeAngelo, CEO of the Arcview Group kicked off the event, by speaking about the global cannabis renaissance: the international modern scientific trend that is moving cannabis out of obscure illegal markets to benefit patients worldwide. The “father of cannabis” emphasized that this renaissance process in Colombia is also providing tools for former members of armed groups to enter the lawful industry of legalized medicinal cannabis.

Following DeAngelo’s presentation, CannaCiencia offered a series of specialized presentations, with international speakers addressing topics like cutting-edge technology in the Indian hemp market and dispensary licenses for medicinal cannabis in Puerto Rico.

Colombian industry leaders and local market players also had a strong presence at the symposium. Private and public sector actors – including representatives from the Ministry of Health and ASOCOLCANNA – presented their perspectives of an industry that changes every day.

One of the main concerns amongst those present was a growing unease around potential regulatory adjustments, though there were also plenty of hopeful newcomers looking for strategies and information on how to enter the market. New entrants fear that the government could raise the bar, both in terms of pricing and requirements for new licenses.

Political and regulatory risks

Meanwhile licensed producers continue to face challenges in funding their cannabis operations, seeking the right partners for elaborate investment deals. CCI co-founder and director Juliana Salazar presented on the topic of political and regulatory risks facing the industry. Putting those concerns to one side, the event was filled with excited investors looking for strategic alliances and Colombian companies seeking advisory to commence production phase.

Local extraction company Qhana Pharma participated in the event, alongside international players Theracann and Agilent Technologies. The presence of these ancillary services companies gave attendees the chance to not only see plant extraction samples and drying equipment for themselves, but also acquire insights on pricing.

This important spotlight in the commercial expo brings to mind the pick and shovel metaphor: without a pick and shovel to extract resources (or in this case, ancillary services to process the plants) it won’t be possible to build a sustainable industry.

The interest shown by CannaCiencia attendees in these supporting services represents both an additional business opportunity and also reflects the interest in building a sustainable medicinal cannabis industry in Colombia by establishing solid long- term operations.