As multiple niches of the cannabis industry continue to legitimize, there is one sector that seems to have stayed behind in the grey market: genetics.
Before we get into how Columbia will dominate the seed market, let’s look at where people are currently getting their seeds. There are thousands of strains available on the market today, all crossbred from original domestic strains. For now, legal markets are limited to sourcing seeds from the few countries that have an legal genetics production: Canada, Israel, Spain, or Bulgaria. In the United States, grey market seeds are booming with some of the most popular genetics coming from states like California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska – states where recreational cannabis has been legalized.
Over the years, many of these grey market seed banks have been acquired by legal cannabis companies, mostly from Canada. For example, Canopy Growth Corporation from Ontario, Canada has already purchased Green House Seeds, DNA Genetics, and House of the Great Gardner.
One of the latest countries to legalize genetics from the grey market is Colombia, which also happens to be the only country in the world to provide phytosanitary certificates for cannabis seeds. “This certification acts as the passport for seed export to other countries,” explains Javier García, Technical Director of Global Agronomical Procedures for Colombian licensed producer Pideka SAS.
“All companies wishing to produce medical cannabis must be approved by three ministries: Justice, Agriculture and Health. Each of them gives its own approval to initiate cannabis production. The Ministry of Agriculture, through the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO), requires cannabis companies to demonstrate their know-how and test their genetics through biological experimentation and technical information, before they are allowed to produce commercially their cannabis crops. Once they comply with these requirements, cannabis companies can mass produce and commercialize their seeds to the local market and they are able to apply for the phytosanitary certification, as the legal document accepted for trading negotiations among countries.”
Out of the 126 licensed cannabis companies in Columbia, only 16 companies are permitted to produce seeds. Each company registered 10 batches of genetics at a time, carefully measuring their characteristics before being put on the market. Pideka is the first licensed Columbian producer to cultivate and process cannabis with the same standards as Canada and Europe. Because of these high-quality standards, the rest of the world is looking at Columbia as the next global seed bank.
This is huge for the industry because as more countries move forward with legalization, they will need to source their seeds and strains legally as well. For years, seed production has been one of the more profitable markets in the industry, but it’s mostly been operating in the dark. With companies like Pideka, there’s an opportunity for genetics to legitimize with the rest of the industry.