Last month, Uruguay-based Fotmer Life Sciences exported a large shipment of medical cannabis to Portugal. This came about six months after Fortmer shipped one metric ton of high-THC cannabis flower to the same country. The 2019 shipment of high-THC flower was believed to have been the largest ever amount of cannabis flower exported in a single shipment, but weighing in at 3,133 pounds, the May shipment takes the cake.
According to Uruguayan documents dated May 19, 2020, the declared customs value of the latest shipment was about $2 per gram, including costs, insurance and freight. Although no company has publicly taken responsibility for importing the shipments into Europe, it could spur other European importers to follow suit and turn to Portugal for high-THC cannabis. Fortmer Life Sciences has exported roughly 6,613 pounds of cannabis flower since last October, making Uruguay one of the few countries exporting large quantities of the product.
Netherlands is undeniably the one of biggest exporters of cannabis flower in the world, having exported a total of 9700 pounds of cannabis in 2019. However, unlike the shipments from Uruguay, the Dutch exports were processed in a European Union-Good Manufacturing Practice (EU-GMP)-certified facility. According to Fortmer CEO Jordan Lewis, the company produces in facilities certified with Good Agricultural and Collection Practice (“GCAP”) and Uruguayan-GMP certification.
“As has been demonstrated by Fortmer as well as other companies, the pathway for GCAP product as an input into an EU-GMP supply chain is both viable and cost effective,’ he says, adding that the firm has the ‘near-term goal of achieving EU-GMP certification.’ He says that he cannot comment on the identity of the European buyer, but whoever they are, they are effectively paving the way for other medical cannabis companies to export into Europe without first obtaining EU-GMP certification.
It goes without saying that the cannabis has to be grown and harvested under certain quality standards and processed in an EU-GMP facility in Europe, of course. “We are OK with the large public companies competing at the point of sale through branding initiatives while we provide private label and contract cultivation solutions to those myriad competitors,” Lewis says.
It would not be the first time non EU-GMP flower exported from Uruguay is being used to manufacture extracts for medical use in an EU-GMP facility. As Karina Lahnakoski, partner in Rick Advisory at CCI Deloitte in Canada says, “the application of GACP versus EU-GMP, and where in the process GACP transitions to GMP, is a subject that is still debated in industry.”
“A full understanding of the supply chain and the jurisdictional requirements is required to apply the right quality controls.”
Analysts say industry actors like The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF) are glad that the cannabis industry has grown to the level where intercontinental trade in the plant matter is now possible as shown by the Uruguayan exports.
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