New rules will simplify the process of exporting medical cannabis
Uruguayan President Lacalle Pou has signed two decrees aimed at boosting the development of the medical cannabis and industrial hemp industries to encourage exports, Deputy Secretary of the Presidency Rodrigo Ferrés said at a press conference at the end of last week.
The first decree will allow companies to export psychoactive cannabis flower, defined in Uruguay as having 1% THC or more, harvested between 2018 and 2020. The product does not need to be registered as a medicine in Uruguay. However, several requirements remain applicable, including the need to obtain approval from the health authority of the country of destination for import.
The second decree released Thursday simplifies the trade in non-psychoactive plant products within Uruguay as well as for their exports.
Similar to the decree facilitating the export of psychoactive cannabis, the second decree allows the export of hemp plant material harvested between 2018 and 2020 for medical purposes without the need to first register the products as drugs with of the Uruguayan Ministry of Health.
Daniel Radío, director of the Uruguayan National Drugs Agency, confirmed that the decrees aim to resolve a specific situation with the 2018-20 harvests only, simplifying the way they can be exported.
Asked about future harvests, Radio said, “We need to rethink the rules. "
Industry sources in Uruguay predict that the new rules will attract new investment at a time when funds are less available.
At the start of the year, Auxly's Uruguayan subsidiary, Inverell, was sanctioned by the national cannabis agency for operating an unauthorized extraction laboratory, holding more stock than authorized, and cultivating larger plants. larger than those authorized by the research license granted to the company.
Khiron Life Sciences, a Toronto-based company with its main operations in Colombia, announced earlier this year that it has suspended construction of its assets in Uruguay.
The reason given by Khiron for this suspension is not linked to the Uruguayan regulations but because “world market conditions have changed dramatically. The company is implementing measures to ensure liquidity and better target the company's resources ”.
Large Canadian growers such as Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis, among others, have also recently slashed their international production ambitions around the world after their aggressive international expansion strategies failed to produce much revenue.
Uruguayan industry players are hopeful that cannabis could become the country's top agro-industrial export, according to estimates from the country's investment promotion agency.
This enthusiasm echoes a Colombian report written in 2019 by two even more optimistic former ministers, saying that Colombian cannabis exports could exceed those of oil, at $ 17 billion.
However, it is still unclear who will import all this cannabis. A dozen countries want to be net exporters of medical marijuana, and current net importers, like Germany, Israel and Australia, are stepping up local culture.
According to official customs data, Uruguay has exported nearly 3000 kilograms of high THC flowers for an average price of around $ 2,50 per gram so far, despite restrictions that have existed until now. .
One company, Fotmer Life Sciences, shipped nearly 2 kilograms to Portugal, 500 kilograms to Israel and 500 kilograms to Australia. Smaller amounts went to the United States.
Uruguay has seen the first significant exports of hemp flowers in recent weeks, but not for medical purposes. Customs data updated to August 4 shows that two companies, Cplant and Cannabis Uruguay, shipped a total of 2834 kilograms at an average price of 16 cents per gram to Switzerland.
Only one company, Toronto-based Ramm Pharma, is known to have exported value-added cannabis-based medical products from Uruguay so far. The company regularly ships full-spectrum CBD oils to individual patients in neighboring countries under access programs for "compassionate use" and is expected to make the first bulk export to Peru soon.
As Ramm Pharma's products are registered with the Uruguayan Ministry of Health, the company has not had much difficulty exporting under previous rules.