2020 was a record year for cannabis in Colombia. According to figures from the Colombian Association of Cannabis Industries (Asocolcanna) total exports at the end of 2020 were 4.5 million USD. This is more than a tenfold increase compared to 2019 (total exports 350 thousand USD in 2019). This means Colombia reached the highest export volume of cannabis products worldwide in 2020. This not only includes the medicinal industry, but also cosmetics and industrial supplies.

Horticultural technology needed
Colombia plans on becoming the world's largest supplier of legal marijuana, to achieve this they are mainly looking at Dutch technologies. For example, there is a lot of demand for horticultural technology and innovation to increase and make production more sustainable and to cut labor costs. There are also many opportunities in solutions for processing and extracting cannabis.

"Starting an export process of both cosmetics and oils and seeds, which until now have formed the base, is to gradually take over the world of cannabis, especially in countries like the United States, our main destination," said Rodrigo Arcila CEO of Asocolcanna.

According to data from Asocolcanna, 65% of Colombia's total exports go to the United States, followed by the United Kingdom with 15%, Australia 11%, Germany with 3%, and Israel with 2%. Other countries include South Africa, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Peru.

54% of production comes from the region of Antioquia, followed by Cundinamarca with 22%, Bogotá with 15%, Magdalena with 8% and Valle del Cauca with 1%.

Cheap production in Colombia
According to data from Euromonitor International the size of the global cannabis market was 150 billion USD in 2018, while the share of legal cannabis was only 8% of the total market share.

Foreign investments, mainly by North American investors, provide a significant boost to the industry. Total investments in 2018 and 2019 are estimated at 600 million USD. Largely because it is relatively cheap to produce cannabis in Colombia. These investors are opting for high-end technologies and focus on the Netherlands.

The Colombian government's policy for the production of medical cannabis is progressive. Licenses are being issued and experts predict a promising future in this industry, a recently published study has estimated the potential contribution to GDP to be 17 billion USD.

A long-term position as a major exporter with a world market share of around 40% is one of the possibilities. Not only is cannabis de facto legalized, Colombia, with generous support from the government, is fully committed to playing a leading role on the world market for (medicinal) cannabis.

The above was reason for NL.In.Business to write this contribution and to organize a digital trade mission. Registration for the trade mission, which is organized by Holland House Colombia and Control Union from 18 to 20 May 2021, is possible here until March 12th.