Colombia's medical marijuana industry could become bigger than coffee and flower business

In the Andean hills of Antioquia, Colombia, greenhouses covered with white tarpaulin sheets dot the countryside. For now they are all used for growing flowers — but the soil here is being prepared for a more contentious crop.

“The medical marijuana industry can become bigger than coffee, bigger than flowers,” said a smiling Patricio Stocker, chief executive of PharmaCielo, the first company licensed to roll out production of medical marijuana in Colombia. “Our aim is to help the most [troubled] regions in the country.”

Last year, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos reformed antiquated drug laws and legalised domestic use of medical marijuana. The overhaul included permission for the commercial cultivation, processing and exportation of cannabis — as long as it is used for medicinal purposes.

Cannabis growing expertise

Companies like PharmaCielo, which is now waiting for final approval, want to take advantage of Colombia’s historical — if illegal — expertise...

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