Uruguay’s support for the cannabis industry means the country is at the front of a growing global cannabis marketplace. The country is pushing to develop highly qualified skill sets and is proactively nudging its way into the legal cannabis market. In a groundbreaking export, Fotmer Life Sciences recently sent the first small (22 lb) but significant commercial shipment of medical cannabis flower to patients in Australia.
Small but significant
Over the span of weeks, the firm will begin exporting close to 220 pounds per month in dried cannabis flower and extracts. The strategy aligns with the number of countries legalizing the use of medical marijuana. That market alone is expected to almost double, which means close to 80 counties will have legalized cannabis markets of some sort, with a potential global market of approximately $100 billion in ten years. Various market forecasts, including that from Cowen, Inc. (an advisory and investment bank), predicts that in the United States, cannabis markets are expected to be worth $80 billion by 2030.
Uruguay has been a consistent trend-setter in the cannabis industry. In December 2013 as part of a progressive social experiment, Uruguay was the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of cannabis. The country is positioning itself to export in the legal cannabis marketplace from a medical perspective, and Fotmer Life Sciences wants to lead the way.
Other countries are closely observing the progress in Uruguay as drug liberalization debates continue worldwide. Fotmer Life Sciences has its eye on eventual distribution to Germany — a key market in the European Union. In an interview with Reuters, Jordan Lewis, chief executive of Fotmer Life Sciences, said, “Our goal is to create a billion-dollar industry here in Uruguay in the next five to seven years.”
In a pristine white laboratory on the edge of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, a Fotmer Life Sciences biochemist cultivates plants for the booming global medical marijuana market. Facility quality control protocol requires that visitors don personal protective equipment that includes special shoes, head covering, tunic, mask and latex gloves.
In short, the company takes the whole process seriously. Every plant is identified with a unique number and bar code, and all production processes are tracked carefully in order to identify any genetic issues. Once the plants are matured to a certain stage, they are transferred almost 75 miles away to one of 18 industrial greenhouses equipped with drying, curing and packaging equipment in Nueva Helvecia.