Colombia gave the green light Friday to export dried cannabis flowers for use in medical products in addition to allowing manufacturers to produce goods such as textiles or food containing the plant.
In a bold embrace of a booming global market, President Ivan Duque signed a decree ending “the ban on the export of dried flower” in an event organized at Clever Leaves, one of the 18 multinationals that grows medicinal cannabis in Colombia.
Colombia “is coming in as a major player in the international market” for cannabis, Duque said.
Colombia, the world’s top producer of cocaine and which has major cannabis production, legalized the production of medical marijuana in 2016.
Until now, however, it was only allowed to export extracts of the plant, not its flowers.
Authorities had feared that exportation of the flowers would allow them to be diverted to the illegal side of the trade.
In a letter sent to Duque on July 14, the cannabis cultivation company Canamonte argued that a rule against exportation of the flowers prevented growers from “accessing the largest and most profitable market segment of the medical cannabis industry.”
Flowers, which concentrate the plant’s medicinal and psychoactive compounds, “may represent 53 percent of this market worldwide,” according to Duque.
The new authorization also allows for the manufacture of “non-psychoactive derivatives” from the plant.
“We are no longer only in pharmaceutical use. We are opening the space to do much more in cosmetics… food and beverages” and even textiles, the president said.
Fabian Currea, Canamonte’s director of cultivation, told AFP that ending the ban on exporting flowers “gives us the chance to explore new markets” and take advantage of the plant’s low production costs in Colombia.
The rule also “helps control the informal market for fraudulent products” based on marijuana that has had a recent boom in Colombia, Currea said.
The government estimates that by 2024 the medical cannabis business could become a $64 billion industry.
Other countries in the region such as Uruguay, Ecuador and Peru have also legalized the production of marijuana for medicinal purposes.