Germany authorizes medical cannabis shipments from Latin America for testing, paving way for future opportunities

The first cannabis shipments from Latin America to Europe have been approved, a move that could lay the groundwork for future business opportunities between the two regions.

Cansativa GmbH, a German importer of medical cannabis that currently sources product only from the Netherlands, received a one-time authorization to import samples from Latin America exclusively for testing purposes.

While the products will not supply pharmacies or patients, the imports will help the company develop relationships with potential suppliers, Jakob Sons, co-founder and CEO of Cansativa, told Marijuana Business Daily.

It also allows suppliers to test logistical “pain points” in what would be a new supply chain – from Latin America to Germany – and pave the way for larger, future imports for commercial purposes, he said.

This is the first time that German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) has authorized any cannabis shipments from Latin America.

Two companies, Colombia-based Clever Leaves and Uruguay-based Fotmer Life Sciences, will provide the samples for analysis.

Both companies still need to receive EU-Good Manufacturing Practice certification and meet other requirements before their products can be sold in Germany.

According to Cansativa’s news release, Clever Leaves expects to have the certification “in late 2019,” while a Fotmer spokesperson told MJBizDaily the company expects EU-GMP certification “within months.”

Imports from countries with recreational programs possible

The authorization of an import from Uruguay alongside the ongoing imports from Canada suggests that having a recreational program that is out of compliance with international treaties is irrelevant to German authorities, as long as medicinal production is regulated in compliance with the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs.

Sons explained to MJBizDaily that this first step is also meaningful for the industry because there were doubts that imports to Germany from Latin America – especially Uruguay – would ever be possible.

Previous replies from the German government to Parliament said that Uruguay wasn’t complying with international drug control conventions because of its recreational program.

In the same paragraph, authorities said they had no knowledge of medical cannabis licenses in the South American country.

“Since then, things have changed in Uruguay and local regulators granted separate and independent systems for the regulation of production for medical and recreational use, which allowed us to show German regulators that imports from Uruguay should be possible,” Sons said.

Diego Olivera, secretary general of the Uruguayan National Drug Board, confirmed to MJBizDaily that the division of controlled substances of the Health Ministry received questions from the German BfArM in January.

Uruguayan authorities confirmed that the exporting company has a medical license and authorization to export.

Alfredo Pascual can be reached at alfredop@mjbizdaily.com

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