After complaining about neighbourhood dope dealers who threatened to murder them, Patricia Santiago and her family were compelled to escape their house close the Caribbean shore of Colombia. But in a strange twist, Santiago now operates at a medical marijuana plant in drug trafficking.
At first, as she pruned and trimmed cannabis crops on a plantation operated by a Colombian company called Clever Leaves, Santiago feels like she violated the law. The state legalized medical marijuana in 2016, however, and now Clever Leaves is exporting products based on cannabis to Canada and the UK.
Rather than a sign of the country’s dark past of narco-fuelled violence, Santiago smiles and says, “Colombian drugs can now be used to treat individuals.”
At least that’s the hope of an increasing amount of entrepreneurs constructing vast marijuana plantations and state-of-the-art pharmaceutical laboratories that generate everything from cannabis-based pain relievers to cancer patients to dog treatment.
Other nations pass legislation to allow medical marijuana to be produced, imported and exported, but Colombia has a leg up as it did so three years earlier, claims Rodrigo Arcila, chairman of the Colombian Association of Cannabis Industry.
He said more than $600 million has been invested in constructing medical marijuana installations by the 29 member firms of the group.
Arcila holds that Colombia can manufacture cannabis products at reduced rates than rivals because of accessible soil, comparatively small salaries and an abundance of qualified farm hands that cut their teeth in the booming flower company in Colombia.
In a nation where drugs have created so many issues, this is a wonderful chance.
“In a nation where drugs have created so many issues, this is a wonderful chance,” Arcila suggests.