Missing steps to be able to market cannabis in food and beverages

With the regulation of the industrial use of medicinal cannabis, through Resolution 227 of 2022, an opportunity is opened for the development of products food, beverages, dietary supplements and textiles from the country.

From now on, companies operating in Colombia will be able to produce, distribute and export these types of products based on non-psychoactive cannabis.

With this, the regulatory framework of an incipient industry that last year exported some 4.9 million dollars is being put together, mainly to Australia, the United Kingdom, Israel and the United States, and that could make Colombia one of the main players worldwide. In addition, according to ProColombia, it could generate more than 44,000 jobs by 2030.

However, there are still several resolutions to be issued: that of the foreign trade of dried flowers, which represents 50 percent of the value of world market, one of the tariffs and another that regulates the commercialization in Colombia of food and beverages with these derivatives.

According to Luis Merchán, CEO of the Colombian-Canadian multinational Flora Growth Corp., this new regulation puts Colombia at the forefront of the regulation of medical cannabis in the world. “The cannabis plant provides a very important value in secondary industries such as food, beverages, dietary supplements and other industrial uses such as bioplastics, paper and construction materials. This step generates optimism for the industry, with the precaution of reducing barriers to activate these lines of business immediately”, he said.

The resolution also establishes the rules for requesting licenses and quotas or the types of industrial uses that will be allowed. The respective requests must be made through the Information Mechanism for the Control of Cannabis (MICC) of the Ministry of Justice.

“The quota system will be more agile and its validity will be extended. Supplementary quotas are created with predetermined amounts that have a faster process and ordinary quotas that have no quantity limit. These new rules will help generate more employment in the industry and will give confidence to investors”, assured the Minister of Justice, Wilson Ruiz.

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To export cannabis, companies must request the inclusion of the export modality in the cultivation license of psychoactive cannabis. In the case of psychoactive cannabis, have requested the respective quota. In the case of non-psychoactive, a quota will not be required and you will only have to indicate the number of filing in the Foreign Trade Single Window. The foregoing, solely for scientific purposes until the foreign trade resolution is issued, which establishes the conditions and requirements necessary to export for commercial purposes.

Julián Wilches, co-founder and director of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs of Clever Leaves said that said announcement is good news because it allows the industry to complete the regulatory framework to export dried flowers, but also to operate in a more agile and more competitive manner in the national territory.

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According to Ernesto Castilla, legal director of Avicanna Latam, although this resolution is a step in the right direction to create a national market for finished products with cannabis, in the sense that certain quality criteria applicable to food, alcoholic beverages and supplements are grounded, there is still a very large spectrum of issues that are subject to future regulation by the Ministry of Health.

“Until this happens, in practice it will not be possible to market this type of product in Colombia because it will not be possible to obtain a health registration or equivalent with Invima. Marketing is subject to future regulation”, he said.

President Iván Duque said that progress has already been made in credits for small and medium producers through the Banco Agrario.