Andres Fajardo is the CEO of Clever Leaves Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: CLVR), one of the largest cannabis companies with operations in Canada, Colombia, Germany, Portugal and the United States. Clever is the first cannabis company in Latin America listed on Nasdaq with a European Union Good Manufacturing Practices Certification (EU GMP) for flowers and extracts.
In Colombia, Clever Leaves has invested in the development of state-of-the-art infrastructure for the cultivation of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis. Fajardo knows first-hand the challenges to the development of the industry though there will likely be changes on the horizon with the country’s new President Gustavo Petro.
Following Colombia’s historic elections, the congress is expected to begin discussing the legalization of recreational cannabis. Fajardo says the moment is right for much-needed reform that builds on the local experience and the country’s natural advantages to generate decent jobs and collect taxes.
“I think that it is a propitious moment for this type of proposal, first because Colombia learned from what we did well and what we did wrong in terms of cannabis regulation,” Fajardo told Benzinga in an exclusive interview. “And now we can apply these lessons to the regulation of cannabis for adult use. Colombia can be a supplier of cannabis for adult use for export, due to its low costs, climate, and geography, and because it has established companies.”
He stressed that the bill filed by Deputy Gustavo Bolivar had the endorsement of President Gustavo Petro. “This is not a new market that is created, people are brought in from illegality and are given a legal framework that generates taxes, promotes science, creates decent jobs and that may be of interest to an incoming government with economic challenges ahead.”
Benefits For Local Cannabis Businesses
The legalization of cannabis generates expectations in Colombian cannabis producers who expect to access certifications, new markets and retail presence. In particular, this could be an alternative for cannabis companies that have already invested in the country under the premise of huge potential markets that did not turn out to be much, given the global competition, and the complex regulatory requirements in the destination markets.
Fajardo said one of the most significant changes would entail facilitating access to adult consumers through dispensaries.