Canada has led the global cannabis industry ever since it first legalized medical cannabis. For awhile, the Netherlands was the only other nation that allowed medical cannabis exports, but Canadian companies maintained the biggest share of the market. After ending prohibition for all adults last year, Canada’s dominant position was only strengthened. Israel announced earlier this year that it would also start allowing exports, providing another competitor on the scene, but the biggest challenge to Canadian dominance may just be Colombia, one of two South American nations that started exporting just a few months ago.

Colombia is making remarkable strides implementing cannabis law reforms, decriminalizing personal amounts 7 years ago, legalizing medicinal use three years ago, and allowing exports just this year. Clearly on the march towards ending prohibition for all adults, the Colombia Supreme Court just ruled that laws banning public consumption as unconstitutional. With ideal growing conditions and the ability to produce cannabis relatively affordable, the international cannabis community has been put on notice, as was covered by Health Europa:

Often referred to as the ‘Why Colombia’ slide on many investor decks, we will proceed to describe a series of differentiating attributes which make Colombia an ideal location for the production of medical cannabis.

  • Landraces and Denomination of Origin. As we have stated before, Colombia already had a major role in the illegal cannabis market and the country has a variety of stable landraces which have been proven to be effective and profitable in the past. Colombia is not new to cannabis.

  • Geographical positioning and natural photoperiod. Located along the equatorial belt, Colombia is one of those privileged countries which has a natural 12-hour photoperiod all year round, which is just the right amount of light to have the cannabis plant flower into trichrome rich buds. In Colombia, depending on the variety and grow setup you can have up to 4 crop cycles a year without the need of artificial light (and its associated energy cost) except for the vegetative growth period. The country is also very well located in the middle of the American continent, with access to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, relatively close to the US and many other future export destinations.

  • Level to snowy peaks and every other possible climate. It is located in between the world’s most imposing mountain range which leads down to the Amazon. The diversity of climates and regions make Colombia ideal for breeding and research activities.

  • Labour cost and qualifications. As we had mentioned earlier, Colombia is the 2nd largest supplier of cut flowers, 3rd largest supplier of coffee and the 5th largest supplier of bananas. So, Colombia already has highly skilled labour force when it comes to agronomic businesses and wages are much lower than in Canada and the US.

  • Legislation. The current legislation may have gaps and certainly much more to improve, but at the moment the legal framework makes it possible to exploit both psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabis (Hemp), for national use (44 million population) and export. It allows the Import and export of products, precursors and seeds. It also contemplates the use of industrial hemp in the multitude of applications for the fibre, seed oils and so forth. Finally, it establishes a clear protocol to commercialise psychoactive components of the plant in accordance to the INCB. Having read and compared many other legislations, Colombia’s seems to be the one best suited for real unbridled growth.

With Canadian prices in the regulated system remaining higher than the traditional market, un-regulated dealers are always going to pose a risk to the legal industry. With Colombia’s ability to produce cannabis more inexpensively, we can expect Canada and other nations to start securing Colombian-grown cannabis more and more. If Colombia continues its trend toward full legalization, then the South American nation will only see its market share grow and it could become the world’s leading exporter of cannabis. No one knows what the future holds, but it seems pretty clear that there’s a new major player emerging and everyone should start to take notice.

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