Among the novelties that are being celebrated these days in the Peruvian territory is the enactment of the medical cannabis law that allows self-cultivation and associative cultivation. And, in this vein, it is also celebrated that the authorities granted the first cannabis production license. This is Cann Farm.
The Peruvian regulatory framework comprises of three types of licenses: commercial, research, and production.
"Peru has medical regulations, which grant licenses to pharmaceutical-type companies," explains Andrés Vázquez Vargas, co-founder, and president of Cann Farm.
With extensive experience in the agricultural world and under a project aimed at medicinal plants, those who today make up Cann Farm saw in cannabis "a good engine to boost the plant business. "
But before they had already been working with others, such as marigold.
From his mouth: “In the group, we work on a crop with a medicinal vocation that is marigold, a flower with yellowish and orange tints that is used for ophthalmic drugs because lutein is extracted from there. Its vulgar version is used to feed chickens because it colors eggs, but it has this component with medicinal properties ”.
Likewise, the biologist Vázquez Vargas is very attuned to regulatory entities since he has been investing in the sector for a long time together with some Italian partners.
However, did that good tuning make things easy?
Well, a little bit yes, but it took a lot of work to become the first licensee of its nature.
"It is nice to be the first, but we want there to be changes in the country and more licenses to be granted, " he says.
Meanwhile, from Cann Farm, they began to look for where to grow. Once that point was sorted out, they had to meet the laboratory requirements: become a pharmacist.
"What we did was, seeking to optimize our path, design a process plant to handle the post-harvest, extraction, and manufacture of finished products within the farm ."
Therefore, for the second quarter of 2019, they designed a plant that qualified with the requirements of the Ministry of Health.
“And by March 2020 we obtained the approval of the Ministry of Health as a pharmaceutical laboratory. And we get a very specific accreditation: plant for the production of natural pharmaceutical products derived from cannabis. That was the accreditation as a laboratory ”.
Then came a long one-year process to get the cannabis license . This happened in March 2021, but first, it had to go through three stages.
First, the farm and the laboratory needed the approval of security procedures . That is, of all the protocols and recommendations, such as including fences, armed surveillance, camera systems, and detection.
Later, when the Ministry of Security granted them the “OK”, they went to the Ministry of Agriculture to defend the files.
There, they were reviewed from the genetic materials, through various approvals and even the authorized cultivation plans. "I remember the date they gave it to us because it was December 31, 2020."
And in the third instance, they presented the file (“A box full of papers”) before the Ministry of Health and the DIGEMID (General Directorate of Medicines, Supplies, and Drugs): “There were some meetings that had their dose of nervousness for being the first once a company was going to grow marijuana in Peru ”, he reveals.
In this way, they entered the bureaucracies on January 14 and obtained the signature on March 23, 2021.
With an investment of USD 8 million, Cann Farm are betting on the cannabis production base but with diversification to other medicinal plants. "We want to make products derived from plants."
And in the first stage, they seek to serve the domestic market. When do they have a date? "The first flower is going to come out in January 2022," he says.
He continues: “ The local market moved fast, but I have some qualms about size. However, I see a lot of dynamism. There are already products registered under a magisterial formula, there is a formulation with THC and CBD, there is even CBG on the market. There are also companies that have oils, creams, suppositories, and others ”.
In a second stage, given their operational and regulatory structure, they will seek to place finished products.
Vázquez Vargas tells it: “ In 2023 we could go out to put finished products outside the country. We have a managing partner in Brazil to develop this option. And a latent partner in Mexico. Also, obviously, although it is surely more difficult, we are hopeful to have the possibility of working in the United States ”.
Also, in a third stage (projected for 2024), Cann Farm hopes to work with the European market.
“The audit times are long. As we are a pharmaceutical laboratory and the processes are of a quality assurance system, you have to run a good quantity and production batches. For this reason, you have to fine-tune the machine as much as you can imagine ”.