You have said that medical cannabis in Latin America can reach USD12.7 billion, and Khiron will play an important role in reaching that goal. What is the key to achieving those goals?
These are estimates on figures that are already published. Whatever the size of the market, Khiron will be the first company in the market in Latin America because it has a high ethical standard. That is why Khiron has decided it only has to participate in the medical market with high compliance standards. Khiron has established higher compliance goals than those required by the regulators. Second, Khiron's operative strategy is based on a package; the firm sells a complete service that includes a medicine recommended by the doctor, and it is prescribed by the personal physician for each individual patient. Khiron is acquiring clinics to provide its services with doctors and patients. Then, the accountability standards in Khiron are extremely high. This is a public company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and, as a result, it is obliged to meet certain standards. And lastly, the professionals at Khiron, including myself, are great professionals in their fields, so the company will acquire a large market share whatever the size of the market.
The Colombian government wants to boost the medical cannabis industry. However, the issuance of licenses is slow. What decision should the government take to speed up the development of this industry?
There needs to be mutual trust between government and companies. Companies and the industry will grow tremendously when there are regulations that are not excessively restrictive, but rather a legal framework that understands the market's needs. That relation is well understood in Colombia and in Mexico. The company is in talks with congress and legislators. In Mexico, congress is about to pass a law that will regulate these products. We are on track to have that mutual trust. Companies have to comply with transparency and regulation standards, while the government has to develop the best framework to develop the sector.
What can be done to make legislators understand the potential that medical cannabis could have for the development of a country?
We are working and waiting for legislators to make their decision. There is a ruling that they cannot escape from. The executive and legislative branches have been forced by the judiciary to regulate the industry. In Mexico, congress has requested additional time to pass the bill to establish a regulation, and that timeframe expires in April.
What is your forecast in terms of economic and political terms for the industry?
Currently, access to banking is extremely restricted. We will gradually see more openness. The problem is that in Latin America we have seen the violence triggered by narcos and cartels due to the prohibition of drugs. We need to have strong regulatory bodies so that banks will open their financial mechanisms to this industry as they do with other industries. No one will impede the development of this industry.
What would you say to the regional leaders to have a different perspective on drugs?
I would recommend they learn the history of this industry; all the places that have legalized cannabis have not experienced any problems. There have not been risks for governments and political leaders when things are properly done. We have to walk this road to develop it. We have to tell governments that it is better to legalize, instead of all the costs associated with diseases and criminality related to drugs. Regulating the industry can generate new tax collections and private investment in research and development. It is a potential job generator, and there is an important industry to develop. I would like to invite political leaders to make decisions in that regard.