The cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinoid industry is exploding–and not just in the US but around the globe. South America in particular is making big waves in the space.
According to CBD-Intel, “South America continues to be a market growing in importance for CBD, both in terms of becoming a major supply hub for the growth and processing of cannabis and hemp biomass and as domestic end-product markets.”
But the country that really stands out is Uruguay, the FIRST to fully legalize cannabis in December 2013.
As a leader in the space, CBD & Cannabinoid Industry Association (CBDIA) recently appointed a new sub-regional director in Montevideo, Pablo Ghislieri, to help foster partnerships and collaborations at the local level in this fast-growing region.
We spoke to Pablo to learn more about his experience and new role.
CBD H&W: Can you describe your background and experience?
PG: I have more than 25 years of experience in export/import and operations/production. Over the last 10 years I have focused on developing businesses and project management for local and international companies. My frequent travels to many countries in the world provided a unique experience and knowledge of different markets, especially in LATAM region.
I hold a university degree in international trade, a technical degree in logistics, and an MBA. I am also a certified auditor for ISO 9.001:2015 and ISO 14.001:2015.
CBD H&W: How did you first get involved in the CBD industry?
PG: About three years ago, I was looking for new job opportunities and got a call from the biggest cannabis company in Uruguay (ICC Labs, now owned by Aurora Canada) for the position of Operations and Purchases Manager. When I was researching the company to prepare for my interview, I became very interested in this new industry and its future. Fortunately, I got the job and, since then, I have been learning and improving my knowledge and experience in this amazing environment.
CBD H&W: What is the CBD industry like in Uruguay and South America overall?
PG: Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalize cannabis in several areas: production, industrialization, and R&D for medicinal and recreational proposes. That legal frame, combined with excellent business advantages (tax exceptions, logistics, very well-trained professionals, and political and social stability), established a solid base to develop a strong growing industry. The new government is determined to support this industry and is improving laws to solve problems we have faced in the past. Several producers are now starting to export flower and laboratories and research centers are starting extraction and final production.
In the rest of South America, some countries have legal frameworks that allow them to produce and export medicinal cannabis (like Colombia), other countries only allow research and use of medical cannabis but not its local production (like Brazil), and some are moving forward to legalization in different ways (like Chile and Argentina). I believe that in the next five years most of the main countries in South America will allow use of medical cannabis and its commercialization. South America has a great opportunity to become a world leader in cannabis production and industrialization, especially if we combine our strengths and capabilities.
CBD H&W: What will your responsibilities be in your new role in the CBDIA?
PG: My responsibilities are to analyze and report on the Uruguayan cannabis market and evaluate opportunities and challenges, mainly in education but also in other sectors like production, industrialization, and R&D. I will continue to take cannabis courses and promote the industry in the LATAM market. I believe that Uruguay will be a reference for many countries that are starting (or will start) to engage in the cannabis world and will help guide development of fair and honest businesses.
CBD H&W: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
PG: I hope that our work will contribute to expand this new industry, which has the huge potential to help millions of people around the world by providing natural medicines, as well as protect our environment with sustainable production and industrialization.
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