Robert Contrer

Colombia has awarded its first medical marijuana business license to a Canada-based company, PharmaCielo Ltd. The company’s production duties will fall to PharmaCielo Colombia Holdings, a subsidiary of the Canadian company located in Rionegro, The City Paper reported last week.

For decades, Colombia played an infamous role in the illegal international drug trade. Today, the government pledges that it is committed against illegal drugs, and has approached the legality of medical cannabis cautiously.

In a press conference about the licensing, Colombia’s health minister Alejandro Gaviria Uribe said, “Colombia may be the winner of this emerging market of medicinal marijuana. This will result in more jobs in our country and greater prosperity for the communities and municipalities where this industry is situated.” Gaviria said to expect several more producers to be licensed in the coming weeks.

The administration of President Juan Manuel Santos sees the emerging industry as an opportunity for growth and a means to diversify the country’s economy away from oil and coal.

PharmaCielo now must apply for a cultivation license with the National Council on Narcotics, but the company is “one step closer to becoming a fully integrated licensed grower and manufacturer of cannabis oil extracts,” according to a press release issued by Pharma Cielo.

However, not all are pleased that the country’s first marijuana license was awarded to a company from Canada instead of a Colombia-owned enterprise. Jorge Iván Ospina, Colombian Senator and a member of the Partido Verde (Green Party), has since released a video of himself — surrounded by a sea of maturing cannabis plants — speaking out against the government’s decision not to turn the controversial crop back over to Colombia’s “indigenous and peasant communities.

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