On Aug. 19, the Colombian company PharmaCielo, which claims to be the country’s premier producer of medical-grade cannabis oil, announced that it had officially exported the first batch of CBD from Colombia to Switzerland. The actual deal to make the first commercial export of CBD to Europe happen was organized by PharmaCielo’s Canadian parent company of the same name.
One of the things that likely helped the cause is the fact that PharmaCielo’s chairman of the board, Simon Langelier, has spent decades working in the Colombian marketplace. Prior to joining PharmaCielo, Langelier had spent 30 years as an executive with Phillip Morris International, particularly as the managing director of Phillip Morris’s Colombian branch, Coltabaco.
While running Coltabaco, Langelier was able to convince the Colombian government they should allow Coltabaco to buy one of its competitors. (In a cannabis world witnessing consolidation on both the hemp and high-THC sides, being able to convince regulators you should be able to buy up your competitors is an increasingly relevant skill.) But things have since gone south for the Colombian tobacco industry, once the government put crazy taxes on tobacco and the illicit market got much more popular. After Langelier’s reorganization of the company, it would end up purchasing over half the tobacco produced domestically in Colombia. But they were no match for the illicit market once taxes went up, similar to what the California cannabis market is seeing with the underground market nearly three times the size of the legal one.
So, Langelier is now working in the Colombian hemp industry, and it was probably a lot easier to get the Colombian government to let PharmaCielo ship CBD to Europe than approve a tobacco merger. On July 25, the Colombian government granted the first commercial CBD isolate exporting permit to PharmaCielo.
“This inaugural shipment is symbolic on many levels. PharmaCielo is the first medicinal cannabis company to commercially export cannabis-derived isolates from Colombia to Switzerland — the global capital of the pharma industry,” said David Attard, CEO at PharmaCielo, in a press release. “Particularly pleasing is the fact that the first batch we ever exported went to Creso Pharma, our trusted partner soon to be part of our company.”
Creso Pharma is a pharmaceutical company, actually headquartered in Australian, that has a subsidiary in Switzerland that received the CBD.
So let’s recap: That’s CBD from a Colombian company, owned by a Canadian parent company, heading to a Switzerland pharmaceutical group that’s headquartered in Australia. Four continents, one CBD shipment — that’s illustrative of a truly global CBD market.
The International Regulations on CBD
The isolate’s destination in Europe is Cresco Pharma in Switzerland, but it goes a bit deeper than just filling an isolate order.
“PharmaCielo recently announced a multi-country sales agreement with Uruguay-based Laboratorios Adler in which the company will supply both PharmaCielo produced CBD isolate and Creso Pharma’s veterinarian CBD complementary feed range of products to Adler for distribution in Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Southern Brazil,” a statement from PharmaCielo reads.
Cannabis Now reached out to the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce to get its take on where regulations governing these kinds of transfers would go in the next few years.
GACC Vice President Jason Beck told Cannabis Now that, first and foremost, it’s important to recognize the difference between industrial hemp products and products derived from actual full-spectrum cannabis grown without fear of consequences of a higher THC ratio.
“CBD and the craze that has taken over the world is probably the best PR campaign cannabis has ever had,” Beck said in a phone interview. Beck believes there is so much confusion in the general public, that “they think CBD, they think weed.” He says this has ended up normalizing cannabis enough for the masses to push even further for reform.
Beck thinks that, on the cannabis side of things, the biggest challenge California will have in conquering the global market is crafting trade agreements. We asked if he thinks the GACC would be able to develop a model for countries to use to develop an import strategy similar to the kinds of model bills used for various regulations across many issues.
“I think each country would dictate a different kind of contract because each country will have different needs of why they would be importing into their country,” Beck replied.
Beck went on to say it’s hard to understand the challenges of something you’re not allowed to do. He points to federal regulations like as the keystone for the future. Beck also said that California has already been the leader in exporting cannabis for years, albeit on the underground market, noting on grams of California-grown cannabis going for 36 euros in Barcelona.
TELL US, would you buy CBD from overseas?