Colorado hemp industry looks to Latin American markets

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Aleksandr_Kravtsov
© Getty Images / Aleksandr_Kravtsov

Related tags: Cbd, Hemp, Mexico

A Colorado-based producer of bulk hemp-derived CBD products, backed by an ambitious state government plan, is looking south to new markets in Latin America.

Mile High Labs inaugurated its 400,000-square-foot facility​ in Broomfield, Co. earlier this month, an event attended by members of the cannabis industry and Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who addressed representatives from Mexico in Spanish.

Together, government and industry are laying the foundations that would take markets to Latin America where a progressive wave of deregulation could translate to millions in consumer dollars for certified seeds, hemp and white label products.

Laying a foundation for Latin American entry

“Latin America is loaded with potential, and MHL is positioned to be a global player,”​ Mile High Labs told Nutraingredients-LATAM. “Mexico has taken a serious interest into moving forward with proper CBD and cannabis regulations; their research and due diligence led to this working relationship.” 

The company said it is in the early stages of conversations with Mexico, educating government officials on the importance of common sense regulations that ensure consumer safety.

The state-run Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan (CHAMP) is working to define a blueprint to manage the entire hemp supply chain and establish strong markets for Colorado’s agricultural communities. It is now entering Phase 2 to address processing, manufacturing, marketing and banking and insurance.

“We are working very closely with the Department of Public Health and Environment to ensure that there’s traceability, not only providing a marketing framework but also a regulatory framework to ensure that products processed in the state are safe going down the supply chain,” ​Brian Koontz, Colorado’s Industrial Hemp Program Manager, told Nutraingredients-LATAM. 

This process, he says, is “critical to being competitive not just as a state within a nation but in neighboring countries in North and South America.”

Regulatory status in Mexico

Mexico is one of a growing number of countries in Latin America that have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis, amending its General Health Law and Penal Code in November 2017 to allow use for scientific, medicinal and industrial purposes. The Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risk (COFEPRIS) issued guidelines for import permits and released the first 38 cannabinoid products to market a year later, including 21 supplements, nine cosmetics, six foods and two hemp oils.

With permits issued, the legal framework hit a snag earlier this year when COFEPRIS revoked its guidelines, citing the need to harmonize the regulations within all government ministries involved and asking for a review of authorizations to ensure medicinal use.

The wait-and-see status, however, now has a time limit. A recent Supreme Court of Justice ruling (Amparo 57/2019) approved the medicinal use of marijuana for 15-year-old Carlos Aviles Garfias who suffers from West Syndrome and uses cannabis derivatives to treat his epileptic seizures. The Ministry of Health was ordered to "comply with the legal duty to harmonize the provisions in therapeutic use of cannabis and its derivatives within 180 business days.”

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