Colombia is expected to become the largest medical cannabis supplier on the planet

Colombia’s second-largest metropolis, Medellin, is the latest destination on the map to start cultivating cannabis plants with government’s approval. The city is predicted to become a global leader in the ganja industry and will export cannabis crops to Latin America and beyond.

Letting go of a drug-fueled past

For decades, Colombia has been confronted with countless cases of illegal drug trafficking.

The U.S.-backed War on Drugs claimed the lives of thousands of Colombians. However, as the cannabis industry flourishes, the landscape is turning a verdant shade of green.

Just 15 years after the death of Pablo Escobar, the land on which the Medellin cartel used to illegally traffic cocaine is now being used as an environment for cannabis-growing.

Destined to become the “Saudi Arabia of legal pot,” Colombia is striving to transform its image and economy by gaining corporate support for cannabis legalization.

“I lived through the Escobar years. I lost friends during those years. And when I see the TV shows that glorify that guy, it makes me sick. What we’re doing with medical marijuana is totally different. We want no part of that past, any of it,” said the chief executive of FCM Global, Carlos Velasquez.

The fertile lands and year-round sunshine makes Colombia a haven for harvesting hemp. With an abundance of rolling hills clustering to form the majestic landscape, there is less demand for energy-sucking warehouses that use artificial lighting.

Medical cannabis legalization in Colombia

The South American sovereign state has a long history of drug exportation and is known for producing some of the most potent pot on the planet. While this might have been a bad thing in the past, an unintentional reputation has put the country in a prime position for building brand awareness.

This could result in Colombia becoming the world’s biggest medical cannabis suppliers.

Image result for cannabis export

“Our advantage is that the Colombian brand already has a mystique. We want to intensify that, so that the Colombian cannabis you already know — the Punto Rojo, the Colombian Gold — is the cannabis you want to buy,” said Camilo Ospina, the chief innovation officer of PharmaCielo Colombia Holdings.

Prior to the legalization of medical-grade cannabis in 2016, patients with medical ailments were unable to use the plant for personal use. In 2012, President Juan Manuel Santos made an effort to legalize medicinal plants for commercial sales, with the results transpiring four years later.

Now, medical cannabis patients can access quality treatment and cultivate a limited number of plants at home.

“The message is, go the legal route with marijuana,” said the head of Colombia’s National Narcotics Fund,  Andrés López Velasco.

Genetic testing will ensure no illegally-grown plants enter the legal market.

Exporting cannabis from Colombia

Gaining global recognition as a major supplier of legal medical cannabis won’t be an easy task. The United States is out of the question for Colombia’s cannabis exports, with the federal government prohibiting exports in some states.

Latin America looks set to become the biggest market for exports. Peru, Italy, Germany, and Croatia are also lucrative matches for Colombia growers. 

Two markets that have the potential to dominate are Canada and Europe; in particular, Netherlands. However, the fact that these countries are also planning to export cannabis makes the idea highly unlikely.