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In a First, Colombia Adds Dried Cannabis Flowers to Its Exports

With its first exports of this kind, Colombia could become the main supplier of the global cannabis industry

Allied Colombia SAS cannabis dried flower farm in La Mesa de los Santos, Santander.
July 25, 2022 | 02:26 pm

Colombian producers shipped 400 kilograms of dried cannabis flower to Zurich, Switzerland, from La Mesa de Los Santos in Santander, Bloomberg Línea has learned. This shipment comes in addition to another one of 200 kilograms already sent to the U.S. state of Oregon.

These are the first Colombian exports of dried cannabis flower, something private producers had requested for years and which took shape three months after the approval of Resolution 539, which allows the export of dried cannabis flowers for medical and scientific purposes.

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The first company to achieve this is Allied Colombia SAS, which has operated in the country for three years and is part of the Canadian multinational Allied Corp.

Holger Amaya, country manager of the firm, told Bloomberg Linea that the first shipment sent to Switzerland is part of a non-psychoactive order of 7,000 kilograms.

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“Why is this relevant? Because of the fact that we were able to find out how to export,” said Amaya. “This is a milestone.”

According to him, the company has 22 varieties of cannabis registered before the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA), and an area of five hectares — three of them for cultivation — that will be expanded soon.

The shipment, which has a THC content of 1%, arrived in Bogota from Villa Silvia in La Mesa de Los Santos in the early morning of July 18. From Bogota, it was sent by air to Switzerland by Qatar Airways.

This is the company’s second export and its largest so far. Before the shipment to Europe, Allied touched down in Oregon (U.S.) on June 30, placing a 200-kilo order of dried cannabis flowers with a high CBD content and less than 0.3% THC. This shipment is part of a monthly 500-kilo order.

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Bloomberg Línea also found that only another company has initiated the process to obtain the necessary approvals from the ICA.

Allied Colombia SAS cannabis dried flower cultivation in La Mesa de Los Santos, Santander.dfd

A growing business

An analysis of opportunities for the export of dried flowers provided by the Colombian Association of Cannabis Industries (Asocolcanna) to the federal government has three main highlights.

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The first is that “the sale of dried flowers could generate cash flow in the short term (6-12 months), considering that the time to market is much shorter than that of derived raw materials — oils and isolates — (12-36 months) and finished products, whose development could last between 4-6 years.”

Secondly, this is the largest product category in the industry, both in the market of supplies for the production of derivatives as well as the finished product market for patient consumption, especially in target markets: Europe and the U.S. According to the paper, dried flowers represent 53% of sales in Germany’s retail market, a country that accounts for 75% of the European medical cannabis niche and which currently depends 100% on imports.

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The third conclusion is linked to the country’s competitive edge in cannabis cultivation, which could allow Colombia to be the main supplier of the global industry: The country enjoys 12 hours of light per day throughout the year, it has the potential to yield 4 to 5 harvests per year, and can guarantee a stable supply and lower cultivation costs compared to the major flower exporters (Canada, the Netherlands and Portugal).

Government approval

The Ministries of Justice, Agriculture, and Trade issued Resolution 539 in April 2022, clearing the way for foreign trading of seeds to sow, and the trading of grains, vegetable ingredients, cannabis plants, cannabis derivatives, and related products.

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With this set of rules, importers and exporters must comply clearance by different entities, including the Ministry of Justice, the National Institute for Drug and Food Surveillance, and the ICA.

In the latter case, the ICA has to verify whether the target has any phytosanitary requirements.

“The exporter must contact the importer so they get permits from sanitary authorities,” said Alberto Rosero, ICA’s seeds director. “We then validate the information to determine whether conditions are viable to comply with. We also validate that the company is registered in the National Register of Growers”.