Medicinal cannabis companies operating in Colombia are welcoming a decision by the government of President Iván Duque to allow the legal sale and export of dried cannabis and other plant derivatives to domestic and international buyers.

The overhaul of restrictive legislation was made during a visit by President Duque to Clever Leaves and its pharma-grade plantation in Pesca, Boyacá, 140 km northeast of Bogotá. Decree 811 also expands the government’s regulatory framework to allow pharmacies to offer medical cannabis, as well as CBD oils and by-products for patients with a prescription. The legislation now facilitates transport of dry plants to nations where medicinal cannabis is approved by health authorities to alleviate cancer-related symptoms, pain therapy, epilepsy, PTSD and other neurological disorders. Israel, Germany, United Kingdom and Canada are some of the nations that will be able to acquire Colombian cannabis to be distributed in their own healthcare facilities. The global medicinal cannabis market is expected to generate close to US$45 Billion in revenue over the next six years.

Clever Leaves was founded in 2016 by Colombian stockholders, among them Julian Wilches and Andrés Fajardo, to harvest sustainable cannabis in a region of the country privileged by abundant sunshine and natural irrigation. Driving their corporate “mojo” – as the founders describe their company’s vision – is the priority of generating employment in rural communities where many families depend on single mothers as sole income earners.

Canadian-registered cannabis growers with production facilities in Colombia, among them PharmaCielo and Khiron, also celebrated the decision by President Duque to eliminate export restrictions that blocked access to 50 percent of the global medical cannabis market. “This new decree represents an important milestone for Colombia, enabling us to compete in international markets. Furthermore, the decree raises the standards of our products and adds significant value, particularly in the medicinal sector,” highlighted President Duque.

For Kyle Detwiler, CEO of Clever Leaves Holdings, the change in government policy “could double our addressable market from Colombia, a region where Clever Leaves has made a substantial capacity investment, but where we have been limited in only selling processed or extracted products to this point in time.”

President Duque also emphasized that the new regulations come during a pandemic, and moment in the country’s history, when companies have to be more “innovative, resilient and creative” to develop the nation’s economy. “Colombia has the best (cannabis) regulation in Latin America for the world,” stated Duque, and country where “a kilo of dried flower is more competitive in price than that of all our competitors. This decree has to make us number one.”

Clever Leaves made the cover of The City Paper in May, 2019. Here our interview with the company founders:

Clever Leaves and the intelligent business of medicinal cannabis from Colombia