Updated: Jul 14, 2020
With Colombian cannabis, grown indoors, some investors are betting to get more out of this business that is barely germinating.
A few kilometers from Bogotá, in an industrial area of the municipality of Tocancipá, Cundinamarca, several entrepreneurs from Spain, Italy and Colombia invest close to US $ 12 million in a plant and laboratory to process pharmaceutical cannabis.
This is a new bet in this business that has been growing in the country and other parts of the world along with the legalization of cannabis for medicinal or industrial purposes. Other plantations developed for several months in the country pursue the same purpose of extracting oil for countless products, such as medicines. But this company has a difference: its entire production process takes place indoors.
"This type of technology and methodology allows detailed monitoring and control of plant cultivation, as nowhere else in Latin America and even in the world," says Borja Sanz from Madrid, director of global operations at Pideka.
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The controlled development of plants has the clear purpose of obtaining international certifications, such as medicinal grade GMP. Achieving this approval implies a substantial increase in the price of the oil, due to its purity and easy traceability.
According to Sanz de Madrid, in a traditional greenhouse it is impossible to precisely regulate variables such as temperature, light and humidity. These are key factors in developing optimal cannabis for pharmaceutical purposes.
Pideka's partners have a commercial strategy to produce an oil so pure that it convinces laboratories to include them in their production. Some of the world's largest pharmaceutical producers have affiliate companies tasked with developing drugs that incorporate cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, among many others.
As the commercialization of these drugs progresses, the demand for these types of supplies, such as pure cannabis oil, will grow. The legalization processes for medical cannabis that are being adopted by many countries around the world will also help a lot, as potential markets for this type of product will grow.
The business model of Sanz de Madrid and its partners seems attractive. Each liter of high-quality medicinal cannabis extract (GMP) would have a market value of $ 25,000. This quantity of milliliters allows to make tens or hundreds of patches, inhalers, drops, capsules and vaporizers. This being the case, Pideka's business plan would generate around US $ 250,000 in finished products.
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With such promising figures, as many stakeholders as doubts arise. Are you doing joyful accounts with an industry that is just emerging?
For Sanz de Madrid, sufficient arguments and signals from the international market indicate that this business plan can be fulfilled. In fact, the executive speaks of "very advanced" contacts with international companies and laboratories interested in this "golden" cannabis.
On a tour of the Tocancipá facilities, we could see that, more than a crop, it is a whole laboratory that follows the most demanding techniques of the pharmaceutical industry.
For example, they strictly control people's access to growing and production sites to prevent plants from becoming contaminated. Likewise, the cannabis growth process has state-of-the-art machinery, lights and technologies for air circulation and CO2.
The Italian expert Denis Contri, who is also a partner of the company, leads the production process of pharmaceutical cannabis with GMP certification.
The scientist remains aware of every detail in the assembly of the processing plant, as well as the meticulous and delicate work to achieve the most resistant and productive species.
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"It is satisfying to contribute these kinds of products that will help millions of people," said Contri. He is also one of the few people in the world with the title of master grower, or expert in the development of this type of crop.
Pideka plans to start producing at its Tocancipá plant in the next few weeks and start exporting at the end of 2019. This will be the true litmus test of its attractive business.