Facundo Garretón, an entrepreneur and investor from Tucumán, spoke about cannabis regulation telling what encouraged him to get involved in the Life Sciences project. Cannabis is a promising industry. He became familiar with it 3 years ago when he got to vote on the medical cannabis bill in Congress where he understood the difference between the medical, recreational and industrial cannabis segments.
After his time in politics, the founder of the InvertirOnline platform, Facundo Garretón, decided to return to the entrepreneurial world, this time as a partner of “a company oriented towards wellbeing,” as he defined it, which produces medical products in Uruguay taking into account the social and environmental impact.
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Yvy – in Guarani land – was born at the beginning of last year by the Uruguayan Andrea Krell, today her CEO, and the Australian Kevin Nafte. Eight months later, Garretón entered as partner and investor with $500,000 and was also responsible for leading the round that attracted $1,5 million of local and two international private investors, among them leaders of companies from different sectors such as pharma, consumer, agriculture, among others. “It’s the smart money,” explained Garretón, who assured that of the 15 calls he made, all had a positive response.
“There were even two investment funds interested but, for the moment, they were refused,” said Garretón, who compared the cannabis business to that of the dot-coms in the late 1990s. “Everyone wants to get in, even the big arcade players like Constellation Brands or Marlboro,” he added, although he believes the industry will consolidate if “they continue to invest silly without understanding the dynamics of the industry.” You have to find a specific niche. That is what he intends to do with the money raised that will be used to set up a hub in Pan de Azúcar, in Maldonado.
Medical cannabis production
Yvy Life Sciences, which seeks to have a social as well as an economic impact, produces medical cannabis on the farms of women’s cooperatives in the interior of Uruguay, which are trained and monitored through an application. They started with one hectare divided into three farms but this year they will reach 10 hectares in 13 farms.
“These farms were already doing organic farming and the idea is that they should diversify their production,” added Garretón, who explained that “in Uruguay, all three are regulated.” While in Argentina, although the medical use of CBD is permitted, it cannot be produced and neither can it be imported.
The first harvest that the new company will have is in March and, in this first stage, almost all the production of dried flowers will be exported to Australia. The surplus will be used to make oil. Depending on the number of the entrepreneur, between 300 and 500 kilos of dried flowers come out of one hectare, which is equivalent to $1 million in sales. Now, if one takes a step further and gives more added value by producing oil, between $2 and $3 million are obtained, depending on whether one does the extraction or outsources it.
“The company wants to focus on both ends of the process, production, and enhancement, and specifically to position themselves in the use of cannabis as a food and beverage additive,” said the serial entrepreneur who is already working on a product of his own to be launched on the shelves.
Progress in cannabis production
Meanwhile, from Argentina, through a local subsidiary, progress is being made with permits for cannabis production for research in Yerba Buena, Tucumán, together with Conicet, the National University of Tucumán, Inta and the municipality of that town. At the same time, the Australian subsidiary imports what has been produced, so far, in Uruguay.
“In northern Argentina the conditions for production are optimal. If the industry is regulated, which I think will be in the short term, we can do it here too,” projected Garretón.
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First published in EL CRONISTA, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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