Colombia is one of Latin America’s leading nations within the developing legal cannabis market. In 2017, the country legalized medical marijuana for both internal consumption and export and the government began issuing the first licenses for cultivation and processing that same year.
As the CEO of Khiron Life Sciences, Alvaro Torres is dedicated to improving the quality of life by making safe and effective cannabis products accessible to all. The company launched its flagship hemp-derived CBD skincare line, Kuida, in the United States this November, making them the first Colombian company to successfully launch legal hemp-derived CBD products in the U.S. market. Kuida Skincare is available now at the Cannabis Now retail store in Los Angeles.
Torres was first drawn to the cannabis industry three years ago, when the government of Colombia decided they would legalize medical cannabis. “What we were hearing at the time was that Colombia would be the capital of low-cost sourcing for the medical cannabis industry,” said Torres. “But it dawned on me and Andres, the cofounder of Khiron Life Sciences, that there was another opportunity at hand. In an environment where everyone is trying to become the lowest-cost producer, we could stand out by creating differentiated products and brands, instead of another commodity product.”
That idea was what drove them to found Khiron, and it remains the basis of the company today.
“Our goal is not to sell coffee at 80 cents a pound — but rather a latte at four dollars a cup,” said Torres. “In our approach, the agricultural advantages we have in Latin America are not the be-all and end-all; they’re a platform to build a broader business grounded by a strong brand connection with our patients and consumers.”
First to Market
Khiron became the first cannabis company in Colombia authorized to commercialize high-THC cannabis for both domestic and export purposes in November 2019. According to Torres, Khiron has historically been innovators in the space, noting that the company was “the first Colombian cannabis company to list on a stock exchange globally – but this achievement is particularly close to our hearts due to the impact it can bring to the communities around us,” he said.
“The authorization we received from the Colombian Technical Quotas Group was a huge win – for us, but more importantly, for our patients. Over the past two years, our team has been working tirelessly to secure this authorization because it allows us to assist in treating more patients right away.”
According to Torres, millions of potential patients in Colombia and Latin America stand to benefit from high-THC medical cannabis prescriptions that can help alleviate chronic pain, depression and other key indications. “We are incredibly proud to be leading the way towards better, safer treatments for all,” said Torres.
Khiron is currently only available in California, but the company has plans to expand into other states. “From experience, we know that our brand reaches its best potential when we have spaces that allow consumers to learn and to connect with the products,” said Torres. “For that reason, Cannabis Now is the perfect platform to launch our line and to grow our brand in the United States. The reception has been incredible so far, and in the long-run, we hope that Kuida will be the foundation that allows us to bring more great hemp-derived CBD brands and products to the U.S.”
Setting the Standard with Innovative Ingredients
Torres believes that being first to market gave Kuida the obligation to set the standard for CBD products across Colombia and Latin America. “We had to go above and beyond to ensure that our formulas were safe and scientifically proven and that our products were impeccable in every way,” said Torres. “We were also starting from scratch when it came to consumer engagement and education. More than any other brand, we’ve had to put in the effort to truly understand our customers — to appreciate who they are, what they want, and what they need. As a result, even among the competitive market of offerings in North America, Kuida stands apart as more than a brand: it’s an emotional bond that inspires women to explore hemp-derived CBD and to ultimately, take ownership of their own care.”
Kuida wants its customers to experience the best of both worlds: the natural benefits of hemp-derived CBD and the innovation of modern skincare. Because of this, all its skincare products are infused with CBDERM, a unique synergy of hemp-derived CBD and highly specialized active skincare ingredients, which come together to provide a potent antioxidant action on the skin. According to Torres, CBDERM can help to prevent signs of aging, protect skin from free radicals, retain water in the skin for better hydration, and improve elasticity and firmness.
“Our team invested an incredible amount of time, energy, and research into developing CBDERM — and it’s paid off,” said Torries. “Consumers are using Kuida and finding that it’s a cut above.”
A New Era
Torres believes that a change in perception is happening both within and outside of the country as Colombia’s cannabis products move from the black market to a tightly regulated market that produces quality-controlled goods. “Increasingly, people around the world are starting to see these high-quality Colombian products, like Kuida Skincare, stocked on their local shelves and their perceptions are changing for the better,” said Torres. “Likewise, in Colombia, the cannabis industry is also changing the perception of what’s possible. Just five years ago, the notion that we would have a successful, legal hemp-derived CBD product sold in the United States was unfathomable. Now, it’s a reality. Steps like these are encouraging and they become an inspiration for local entrepreneurs who once saw this market as unattainable.”
According to Torres, Colombia’s cannabis industry is only getting started. For him, it is an ‘honor to represent a Colombian brand that is expanding globally.”
Kuida Skincare is available now exclusively at the Cannabis Now retail store in Beverly Hills.
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