The government of Argentina has created a technology company aimed at advancing the industrial hemp and medical cannabis sectors.
The company, Cannabis Conicet, will operate under leading scientific researchers, the Arturo Jauretche National University (UNAJ), and the High Complexity Hospital “El Cruce.”
“This commits us to having a state that guarantees, not represses, the use of cannabis, and intervenes in public health and in this line, also in production,” Ana Franchi, president of the new company, said in a statement.
The state-owned technology-based company, which operates under the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research, aims to advance development in hemp derivatives and medicinal cannabis, establish standards for cultivation, production, industrial and clinical use, and engage in training and education, with a goal to establish a strong competitive position for Argentina in regional and international markets, the government said.
The company will offer diplomas in cannabis and its medicinal uses, lead observational studies in the therapeutic use of medicinal cannabis, establish quality control standards, and develop and register cannabis cultivars.
The initiative is to expand by adding non-governmental organizations, cooperatives, and small and medium enterprises as it seeks to draw expertise and experience from a wide range of industry participants. That will make it easier for the government to “guarantee quality . . . through the constant improvement of regulations, as well as the development of national production and genetic techniques, which contribute to cost reduction,” according to the statement.
Roots in activism
Cannabis Conicet has its roots in activism among women who were persecuted by the government because they wanted to use medical cannabis, Franchi noted. That led to the creation of the RACME Medicinal Cannabis Network which then interfaced with other organizations to guide development of Argentina’s Medicinal Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Industry law and a regulatory framework.
Formation of the new company is an example of the government “intervening in public health, in quality control for the well-being of users, . . . which will allow us to have more jobs, remediate soils and a very important, productive development,” Franchi said.
Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Daniel Filmus said “The market does not solve these types of issues but rather the State through all the agencies involved.”
New cannabis law
Argentina’s law establishing a legal framework for the cultivation, production, distribution and commercialization of cannabis products, derivatives and seeds was passed earlier this year. The law advances a whole-plant strategy for hemp that aims to exploit the crop for its health and environmental benefits in addition to its potential for economic development.
The law also eases access to cannabinoid-based medicines in a large, rapidly growing domestic consumer market currently served by imports.
Oversight of Argentina’s cannabis program is under the Regulatory Agency of the Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis Industry (ARICCAME) which is coordinating other regulatory bodies involved in the production chain.
Argentina’s cannabis law allows hemp to move into the farming mainstream in one of the world’s major agricultural nations, and one which is advantageously located for cannabis growing. Hemp can serve as a replacement for a shrinking tobacco sector, and lead to innovation in technology and product development, the government has said.
Cannabis proponents say Argentina’s position as a global leader in agricultural production and research could make the country a potential medical cannabis and hemp powerhouse. But Argentina is playing catchup with other major South American countries that already have established cannabis policy and programs.
The hemp and medical cannabis industries in Argentina could generate 10,000 new jobs, $500 million in domestic sales and $50 million in exports annually, according to government estimates.
The government is also establishing a Federal Council for the Development of the Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis Industry comprising representatives from each province of Argentina, as well as one from the city of Buenos Aires, and one from the country at large.