Due to its regulation, Colombia could become a leader in medicinal cannabis within the region

Álvaro Torres, Khiron´s CEO and founder, is the first person to apply for medical cannabis licenses in the country.

Since August 11, Colombia has joined the list of countries that regulate the use and cultivation of medicinal cannabis. That is why seven months ago Khiron was born, a Canadian company that operates in Colombia, that was the first company to file for licenses for medical cannabis.

Álvaro Torres, CEO and founder of the entity, spoke with LR about developing and driving the national industry and the importance of these regulations for the region.

THE CONTRASTS

ANDRÉS GALOFRE KHIRON´S CO-FOUNDER

“One of the biggest challenges we have is reaching out to patients and doctors to change their mindset regarding cannabis."

What development has the application had in order for licenses to be approved?

We applied on August 10 and we were the first ones to do so in Colombia, this application is currently under evaluation and we hope that the licenses will be granted soon.

Colombia has developed a quite comprehensive law and it is serving as a framework to other countries worldwide. The Government has done a great job creating this law that allows cultivation, export and domestic sale, all through all Invima controls.

Therefore, this has generated interest in international markets to invest in companies like Khiron, which is forecasting that this market will grow and replace opiates based products in a maximum period of one or two years.

What will be the activities carried out in the country?

As a company we are totally oriented towards addressing patients' needs and that’s Khiron´s differentiating element. In Colombia, there are five million potential patients who may become beneficiaries of medical cannabis.

What we do in Colombia is to carefully manage cultivation, extraction and marketing, and we have various discussions underway with potential partners for medical support.

Khiron was not incorporated with the objective of creating cheap extracts to be exported, but rather to provide Colombia patients with potential new medicines.

When will you offer products on the market and what other countries do you expect serving?

We expect the products to go on sale in 2019, although this depends on the Invima´s prior approval. Invima regulates product approvals in Colombia and how these products can be marketed. They define the time line and it can change due to documentation or other types of studies.

We also want to reach other countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Chile, which will be our second step, once products are validated.

How is Colombia placed in the sector in regard to the rest of the world?

Colombia has made a very smart decision by creating a regulation that is based only on extracts and will focus only on the path for medicinal cannabis, which is why the country is becoming a reference point for other countries on how to create regulations.

The medical credibility of institutions in Colombia could allow the country to start leading the medicinal cannabis issue, so it can become a service center or hub for medical study on medicinal cannabis in the region.

What does the law provide in Colombia?

Last year a bill was passed to grant licenses for medicinal cannabis seeds and crops then, a few weeks ago, the Ministry of Justice and Agriculture issued certain regulations on the matter. That is why the following four licenses will be granted: manufacturing of cannabis derivatives; use of seed for sowing; and cultivating of psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabis plants. For small producers, the cultivation area cannot surpass 5,000 square meters.