Colombia becomes the fourth country in the world to export medical marijuana, joining Israel, the Netherlands, and Canada to cement its place in the global marijuana market. Ecomedics S.A.S., which works under the handle, Clever Leaves, is a Colombian vertically-integrated medical cannabis company and holder of one of the first medical cannabis cultivation licenses in Colombia.
The group announced on February 7 that with the support of Northern Swan Holdings, Inc., a United States-based investment firm, it had been authorized by the Colombian and Canadian governments to export medical grade cannabis to Canada.
It’s a deal that has been almost a year in the making.
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The long road to successful exports
Nearly one year ago in March 2018, Clever Leaves signed a Product Acquisition Agreement with Namaste Technologies Inc. (CSE:N)(OTCMKTS:NXTTF), giving Clever Leaves an exclusive supply agreement with a medical cannabis company in Canada.
The deal, signed one month before Clever Leaves had received their official cannabis cultivation license from the Colombian Government, built an exclusive partnership between the two firms with Clever Leaves agreeing to conform to Namaste’s branding and Namaste agreeing to cover costs and display Clever Leaves’ logo on the final product.
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Since the agreement, Clever Leaves and Namaste have worked with Northern Swan Holdings Inc., a United States-based investment firm which has acted as the financial sponsor and international liaison, securing an import license from Health Canada, Canada’s national public health agency which oversees the medical marijuana market in Canada.
Nine months later, on Jan. 16, 2019, Clever Leaves received permission from Health Canada to import dry cannabis leaves, for “scientific purposes.” Then, on January 29, the Colombian National Narcotics fund granted permission, for the first time in history, to export the dried flower.
Limitations on the export process
Despite this milestone approval from Health Canada, demonstrating the quality and esteem for Clever Leaves’ production practices and product, none of the exports will reach patients; all exports will all be destroyed, at least for now.
The green light to export to Canada is stipulated by the fact that the product will only be analyzed in the lab, not consumed by patients or customers. The exports will be shipped straight to a lab where they will be tested and analyzed.
Since legalization in 2018, Canada has placed itself at the forefront of cannabis analytics, a position they share with Israel who invested more than $125 million in 2016 on marijuana trials. Identifying, classifying, and patenting CBD and THC compounds in medical strains is key for the industry to gain trust from governments, doctors, and patients.
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The future of exports for patients and consumers remains unclear; however, based on the agreement signed between Namaste and Clever Leaves, which details packaging requirements and product prices, it appears that there could be plans for a consumer-driven export process.
The importance of partnerships in the global cannabis market
For Clever Leaves, gaining certification both from Health Canada and then from scientific Canadian cannabis analysts gives them a unique and differentiated brand, which they could not have achieved without global partners.
Andres Farajado, CEO of Clever Leaves told Marijuana Business Daily, “Once we have the analytical results, we would be able to show the world that it’s possible to grow top-quality cannabis in Colombia, certified by an external Canadian laboratory… [and] that it’s possible to grow the same quality as Canada but with significantly lower capital investments.”
Their partnership with Namaste, a firm which has also made differentiation a key principle by building extensive online platforms for medical marijuana consultations and bringing the user experience to the forefront patient support is changing the face of access to innovative products, like medical cannabis.
Many Canadian firms are investing directly in cultivators and bringing them into their portfolio, such as Khiron’s acquisition of Nettagrowth. Namaste’s support of Clever Leaves, the first fully Colombian cannabis cultivator in Colombia, demonstrates how new partnerships can emerge while simultaneously boosting a company and a nation that will be integral to the global marijuana market in years to come.
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Namaste Technologies Inc. stock took a deep dive last week, losing 34 percent of its overall share price, largely due to the expulsion of its CEO, Sean Dollinger. At close today it was down more than 10 percent and valued at .77 per share, its second-lowest close this year.