INTERVIEW: A founding member of Gmiracle SAS, Bogata, Leandro McMahon participated in the debates of the Colombian congress, as well as the working tables at the Colombian Ministry of Health during the regulation process of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes. As Gmiracle ‘s CEO, he was responsible for filing and obtaining cannabis-related licenses from various government ministries. Gmiracle is now in the process of obtaining permission from the Colombian government to export cannabis derivatives for medical and scientific uses.
HempToday: Give us your short pitch about cannabis’ potential in Latin America.
Leandro McMahon: Latin America has the ideal conditions to become the world’s agricultural pantry. The experience of Argentina, Colombia, Brazil and Uruguay demonstrates the enormous potential of the region. As the regulatory framework advances, Latin America will become a major producer in this industry.
HT: What’s the next phase in the development for the region? What’s needed now?
LM: For our region to be competitive we must invest in genetic improvement, precision agriculture and product development. We should not focus solely on crop yields and efficiency. The creation of value is in the development of technology and knowledge in collaboration with all the industries that will use cannabis as raw material.
HT: What advantages does Colombia offer for those who might want to invest in the Colombian hemp industry?
LM: Colombia is a country that has millions of hectares suitable for the cultivation of hemp in different regions. Its geographical conditions, its 12 hours of sunlight throughout the year, its abundant water resources, low labor costs and agricultural traditions mean Colombia has great potential to be one of the leading countries in the cultivation of hemp going forward.
HT: What projects are you working on now?
LM: Our project has several tracks. First, we have a 3-hectare crop under greenhouses which is focused on the production of cannabinoids for pharmaceutical use. At the same time we are working on the development of genetics that best suit the conditions of the country as well as optimization of extraction processes. In the coming years we will work to standardize our production processes to gradually grow along with market demand.
We are also working on developing crop models that generate better income for farmers in the region, through associations of small growers that allow them to participate in the cannabis production chain.
HT: What kind of things is Gmiracle working on with the National University of Colombia?
LM: We are developing a research program to characterize Colombian seed varieties and generate crop protocols that allow us to obtain better crops. And in collaboration with the biotechnology department, we are developing the protocols for cannabis-based products in accordance with current regulations of the Colombia National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute (INVIMA).
HT: How is cannabis viewed now in Colombian society? Does the stigma remain? Is this changing?
LM: In my experience the problem of prohibition and stigmatization is largely due to ignorance by society and legislators about the benefits the plant can bring to the country. Secondly, the lack of information generated over time has not allowed entrepreneurs and society in general to join in the development of this industry. For this reason, part of our process has been to publicize the benefits and opportunities that Colombia has – its potential to be one of the largest cannabis producers on the planet.
HT: What gives the drive to your work? What’s the mission statement?
LM: We know that the future of civilization depends on the responsible consumption of the planet’s resources and a collective consciousness that can lead the way to a new, sustainable economic model. We’re sure cannabis can have the greatest economic, social and political impact in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).