Medicinal cannabis industry eyes Argentina

Those adventurers who in 2016 invested in the cannabis firm Canopy Growth when it went public today would have capitalized about 3.500%.

There is a great opportunity for Argentina, but it is necessary to work very hard so that the regulation is modern, facilitates the access of a quality product and allows the commercial exploitation of cannabis in its diverse varieties. Photo: Pixabay
There is a great opportunity for Argentina, but it is necessary to work very hard so that the regulation is modern, facilitates the access of a quality product and allows the commercial exploitation of cannabis in its diverse varieties. Photo: Pixabay

The company, valued at about 14 billion dollars, concentrates much of its activity in the fertile lands of Colombia, but has just begun operations in the southern cone, based in Argentina. The presence of the firm is limited for now to a medical manager, a financial manager, a spokesman and the projection of an office with a dozen employees by 2020, although its regional CEO, Marcelo Duerto, says they came "to stay," given that Argentina's potential in the market is very large.

"We did a study at the regional level and with the current conditions of regulations it is estimated that there are four million potential patients in Latin America, of which 400,000 live in Argentina," he says. Duerto also highlights the aptitude of Argentina "for everything that is hemp", that is, male or female plants in the inflorescence (not psychoactive) of which the fiber is used, "from the half of the province of Buenos Aires to the north to Mendoza. But for that development, he says, it is essential "to discuss how to incorporate the private sector.

"The rise of the dollar [with respect to the Argentine peso] did not affect us," says Duerto, who admits that from Canada he is asked daily about the situation of the local economy, although according to him, his bosses are not shrinking: "We just arrived and we arrived to stay. In Argentina, medicinal cannabis is here to stay, there is going to be an industrial advance.

"Latin America has different degrees of evolution. Mexico and Peru are perhaps the most advanced from the point of view of cannabis regulation, because they allow private companies to develop their businesses, then Argentina or Brazil, where regulation is a little further behind, "says Duerto, manager, for 26 years, employment consultant Accenture.

The objective of Canopy, and of all firms that intend to have a headquarters in Argentina, such as Green Leaf in Jujuy, is to expect the country to adapt its laws for a business that expects to move in 2025 more than 50,000 million dollars worldwide. The situation could change next March, when the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) plans to remove cannabis from the list of hard drugs, as recommended by the UN. "Once that happens, this is going to be like a domino," says Duerto, adding: "Argentina should advance on regulation, precisely, to prepare for that domino. Because everyone is seeing this as a phenomenal business and many actors can become relevant actors.

Agreements with the UBA

Meanwhile, Canopy signed an agreement with the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) that has three legs: a postgraduate course that teaches, among other things, the human endocannabinoid system; clinical or pre-clinical studies, although they are still discussing which therapeutic areas; and research on genetics that Canopy works to see how they behave in Argentina.

Cultivated on a large scale, for now, nothing. The company's focus is on Colombia. "There we have the largest legal cultivated area in the world (130 hectares) and we are installing a farm with extractors to generate resin that is not yet operational, but will be next year," says Duerto. "It would be a pity that Argentina is not prepared to bite on the tip, because the risk of this is that the first countries that are encouraged are going to take the premium value of cannabis for medicinal use, then the market is going to be transformed into a commodity and more countries are going to enter the game," he says.

"There is a great opportunity for Argentina, but it is necessary to work very hard so that the regulation is modern, facilitates the access of a quality product and allows the commercial exploitation of cannabis in its diverse varieties. Uruguay is six years ahead, Colombia is doing it and Paraguay has already started. Argentina, from the point of view of agriculture, has land, advanced technology, and capacity," concludes Duerto.

Source: El Pais

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