THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

Colombia 2020 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

With its 12.1ha producing the finest cannabis products for markets everywhere, PharmaCielo is going sky high.

David Attard
BIOGRAPHY

Before taking the helm at PharmaCielo, David Attard worked as a strategist for PC Financial. But engagement and casual conversation with a fellow parent—who happened to be a co-founder of PharmaCielo—piqued Attard's interest, and an invitation to join PharmaCielo's board of directors soon followed. By the time PharmaCielo went public early 2019, Attard's knowledge of the business, coupled with his deep experience in scaling up business operations, made him a logical choice for the position of CEO.

What is the scale of your Colombian operations?
Along with our own growing farm, we contract several local partners to grow our product. We currently have 12.1ha under cultivation, yielding a half-million flowers, and have the capacity and connections to scale up to 139ha and 5.5 million flowers. We have more than 180 cultivars in our seed bank from which we have developed 30 proprietary strains licensed for commercial cultivation, one of the mandatory requirements of the Colombian regulatory structure.
Having used a temporary extraction facility for the past three years, we are about to open the doors of a 2,300-sqm, GMP-certified processing and extraction center, where we will process oils at full scale. Once we become fully operational, we plan to produce 2,500kg of oil per month, or 30,000kg annually.

How do you control the quality and mix of ingredients in your products?
We have an excellent team of botanists breeding the strains, using natural irrigation and pest-control techniques. Our breeders have been able to develop cultivars with specific qualities and proportions of THC and CBD. Our local growers have extensive expertise. They treat the soil like a living organism and use no chemical pesticides or contaminants, resulting in healthy and safe plants and oils. Most cannabis oils are yellow, but our superior growth conditions yield antioxidant-rich oils with a reddish tint.

PharmaCielo has recently begun selling in the B2B market. Can you give us some details?
4Q2019 is when we flipped the switch to sales mode and announced a medicinal CBD sales agreement with a US distributor that started with an initial shipment of 1,000kg, with plans for continued volume shipments. In early 2020, we announced distribution within the EU and ongoing discussions with a variety of additional global markets that would complement both, including Mexico, where we have an existing joint venture and will be able to act as soon as the government introduces new legislation. We have completed shipments to Switzerland and begun shipping introductory batches of product to various parts of the world, such as Argentina, Italy, and the Czech Republic, among others.

How would you characterize PharmaCielo's business model?
We are focused on the B2B market. We aim to produce the finest and most cost-effective cannabis ingredients—primarily CBD for now—and sell it to companies who will use our ingredients to make consumer-ready formulations. We see ourselves as the aloe vera of the cannabis industry. In other words, we supply a top-notch ingredient that other companies can put to a variety of creative and beneficial uses. A single kilogram of our oil translates into 3,000-5,000 SKUs, making it an attractive proposition for companies that develop consumer-ready formulations, particularly when complemented by the PharmaCielo Inside branding that they can license as a statement of quality for their products.

Why did you choose Canada as your headquarters?
Canada has high standards of financial accountability and oversight. Canada's well-regulated banking system makes it easy to conduct business, and capital markets in Canada made it possible for PharmaCielo to go public. By blending Canada's strengths with our core competencies in Colombia, we've taken the best of both worlds. In all, we view PharmaCielo's “dual citizenship" as one of our strongest assets and differentiators.

Where do you see the company going in 2020 and 2021?
2020 is our breakout year. We have devoted the past three years to fine-tuning cultivation and extraction and are ready to turn our attention to producing and selling our products. We will offer a range of oil products including a pure CBD oil, a broad-spectrum oil with THC removed, and a water-soluble CBD oil. Given our low costs, we anticipate a profit in our first year of commercialization.