By / June 23, 2020

A university in Argentina is focusing its research on a medical cannabis project

Roberto Corbella is the dean of the Faculty of Agronomy and Zootechnics at the National University of Tucuman. He is also an agricultural engineer, with a Master’s degree in Agricultural Sciences, and is currently heading the cannabis research project. 

“The demand is born from the fact that people know and consume cannabis oil and we received information that many times these cannabis oils were analyzed and they did not have the curative active principle, but the psychotropic active principle. Also, sometimes the solvent that was used to extract the oil was some petroleum derivative and it was not olive oil, which is quite a complicated issue,” the dean said.

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The University of Tucuman entered into a partnership with Bellavita Cultivos

The research project on cannabis is in a major bureaucratic phase but has already shaped its objective, which will be fundamentally medical.

The company developing indoor technology, Bellavita Cultivos, will provide the necessary equipment for research, so that the crops can be developed indoors, and thus solve the impediment posed by the lack of the corresponding material resource.

“At Bellavita Cultivos we believe that scientific research and professional training are key pillars for the development of the incipient cannabis industry in Argentina,” said Roman Petreniuk, CEO of the company. A year ago, he has started to cooperate technologically with research projects on the medical and industrial uses of cannabis in different universities and scientific institutions in the country. 

“The idea is to assist the project in an integral way, with equipment for indoor cultivation of cannabis, which we have been developing for more than 6 years, and offering our experience in the sector” added Petreniuk about the agreement that is being discussed with the faculty.

The project will be divided in multiple stages

In the first stage of the project, Bellavita Cultivos plans to send a batch of indoor greenhouses developed for micropropagation, which will offer the possibility of multiplying plants in controlled conditions quickly and efficiently, not only within the framework of research, but also to assist any type of regional cannabis production. 

On the other hand, in a second stage, the company would add LED lighting modules for cultivation, which are specially designed for growing cannabis. That would also contribute to generating economic opportunities for local producers, taking into account that these types of equipment allow a high efficiency in crops, due to very low energy consumption.

“This collaboration will be fundamental, from Bellavita they are very predisposed and I think that the module they are going to offer us to work will be of great help in this research project” said Corbella about the agreement generated. 

In addition to the relevance of the resources, both in terms of human personnel and material equipment, the dean emphasizes the importance of the global objective they are aiming at. That is to turn the National University of Tucuman into a reference in the field, not only for the plant’s research, but also in terms of education and dissemination on this subject.

Only selected organizations can acquire cannabis seeds in Argentina

In Argentina, only organizations such as CONICET and INTA can acquire seeds for the production of cannabis. Universities are not within this possibility, and that is also why research on the subject is so scarce.

“I think the state has not fully regulated well what is medical cannabis. It is something that is not yet spoken because it is not known or does not want to be spread,” said the dean referring to the long process they are going through to implement the project.

“The first thing we have to overcome is the acquisition of raw material. I think once we have the seeds, it will be a very large opening to scale production,” added Corbella.

In any case, the dean maintains that “the project is not going to decline in any way”, and although this requires a temporary presence impossible due to the current context, the faculty is constantly working to manage the collection of information, contracts, and agreements necessary to implement it as soon as they get the green light.

“It is important to investigate, and at the same time, to make the community aware of what is being researched, because I believe that we owe it not only to the students in terms of training professionals, but to the community as a whole”, added Corbella with respect to the project’s visibility and its dissemination, while stressing the importance of responding to a social need from an educational institution: “I believe that it is a demand that society is asking of the environment and I believe that the University should respond to that demand”.


(Featured image by RAEng_Publications via Pixabay)

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