MEDICAL CANNABIS

Malaysia 2019 | HEALTH | B2B

As Mexico moves toward further legalization, the focus is on educating the public and creating an infrastructure that will allow the country to become the biggest player in the global cannabis market.

Raul Castaneda
RAUL CASTANEDA
CEO & Co-Founder
Canncura Pharma
Lorena Beltrán
LORENA BELTRÁN
Founder & Director
Cannabisalud

What motivated you to establish Canncura?

RAUL CASTANEDA After Canada and a number of states in the US, we foresee Mexico legalizing cannabis soon. Our project became more of a reality when in November 2018 several distribution licenses were awarded, and we set off with Hofu Tecnologías, a tech developer that helped us consolidate our investment. With the change in government, we have seen regulations change too. Since then those licenses have been revoked until the new regulation is decided, however, Olga Sánchez Cordero, the Minister of Interior, has submitted legislation to legalize the possession, public use, growth, and sale of the plant in an attempt to change the country's panorama. While some may not be happy with the specifics of the new laws, we are glad to see progress on this front.

Why is it important to legalize cannabis in Mexico?

LORENA BELTRÁN It is important to legalize cannabis in Mexico for many reasons, mainly because it would end the black market and give an opportunity to the farmers to participate in a legal industry. Also, it would decrease the burden on the justice system, produce low-cost medicine for the health sector, and enable Mexico to participate in a multibillion-dollar global industry. Already, due to a number of factors, Mexico is the number-one producer of cannabis in the world. The country has one of the best natural conditions to grow this plant. The objective is to legalize all plants, but not derived products that can be very harmful for health such as cocaine, as these are made with chemicals that have the potential to kill people. However, by legalizing the plants, we allow scientists to properly research the benefits of them. A program to start teaching growers how to cultivate the plant organically should be implemented as they are currently being grown with pesticides and toxic chemicals. Cannabisalud is currently presenting programs that can be of benefit to both the government and the related communities as a way to help them better understand the situation.

What are the main gaps that need further improvement?

RC First, the government appears to be more concerned with selling the product than with educating the public on how to consume such products. There is little-to-no medical research in Mexico about the plant and its effects. That is why we believe pioneering such investigations are necessary. At present, there are talks about medical cannabis as well as recreational use and cultivation. Cannabis is highly stigmatized in México, and we need to help the government with such large-scale changes. We on our part will try to help push this cultural change by funding research that validates the plant as a medical alternative, educating the public with accurate information, and once the laws allow, providing a safe space to purchase the product.

What role will Mexico have in the global cannabis market once it is fully legalized in the country?

LB Mexico will serve as the biggest plant producer and product manufacturer in the global cannabis market, as it does in the automotive and aerospace industries. The country is not a large consumer in comparison to countries like the US, which means Mexico has more potential to be the number-one exporter of regulated cannabis and derived products. Notably, US scientists have invented a machine that uses tons of raw materials like the stalks and leaves of a plant seamlessly separates it into different materials such as fiber, lignin, and cellulose, which can be used to make paper, plastic, textiles, fuel, and construction materials. Such technology in Mexico and Colombia would thrive thanks to the thousands of tons of plant material available.

What product line will you be releasing?

RC Our portfolio will mostly be cannabis-derived products. We are developing an application that will be useful for doctors and consumers. From the consumer side, the entire product list will be available, from which consumers can order products. We are partnering with a delivery service to reduce our delivery time to under one hour. We are talking with numerous suppliers to acquire high-quality products.

How does Cannabisalud strive to educate society on the benefits of cannabis?

LB We decided to create an annual event in 2016, because we knew a change of law was coming and society needed to have more information on the matter. We created an international congress with experts from around the world to break the negative stigma among health professionals. We focus on science and medicine.