How Former Mexican President Vicente Fox, Khiron Life Sciences Are Building A Latin American Cannabis Juggernaut
My intention was to conduct the interview in Spanish, but when I arrived at the door of former Mexican President Vicente Fox’s suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York, I chickened out.
Although I did spend some time in Mexico in college, taking part in an intensive Spanish language program in Cuernavaca, my ability to have a meaningful conversation in a second language has fallen short in recent years. And I didn’t want to sound foolish in front of a man who probably still has the phone numbers of world leaders on speed dial. So, with a quick “mucho gusto,” I shook the man’s hand and began the interview.
Fox has a long history of advocating for the legalization of cannabis, often referring to the prohibition of cannabis as a major failure. So it came as no surprise when Fox joined the board of a Latin American cannabis operation. What was surprising is that he chose a company that is by no means one of the major players in the space.
Given his influence, connections and gift of persuasion, Fox could’ve easily joined forces with any of the big movers in the cannabis market: companies that boast expansive international networks and $1-billion market caps. He instead chose to team with the Latin American cannabis operation Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (OTC:KHRNF)
"Khiron is a socially responsible company," Fox told Benzinga. "They are very ethical. It's why we are together. This is what we discussed at our first meeting."
Fox said the company will be a Latin American cannabis leader.
"Together we are going to employ good behavior and good practices. Social responsibility has to be a component of this industry, otherwise we will destroy it."
An Emerging Cannabis Market
While the American cannabis market will get the lion’s share of attention this year, Latin America is no afterthought.
The region's cannabis sector could reach a valuation of $12.7 billion in just ten years.
Two countries within Latin America that look particularly attractive in 2019 are Colombia and Mexico: the former for its ability to grow and export cannabis at a cost rivaling even the lowest-cost producers in the U.S. and Canada, and the latter due to the likelihood the country will fully legalize cannabis in 2019.
In Colombia, Khiron has a bit of a first-mover advantage. The company was the first Colombian medical cannabis company to list on any exchange, one of the first to land cultivation licenses for both high- and low-THC product and one of the first to be fully licensed in the country for cultivation, production and distribution.
Khiron can work directly with patients and build brand awareness at its clinics an an exclusive retail deal with Colombian supermarket chain Farmatodo. Khiron has also struck deals with Distribuciones AXA, one of Colombia's largest pharmaceutical distributors, and Kuida, a digital drugstore.
Khiron also has exposure to Chile and Mexico. Last year, the company, along with Centro Fox, organized the first CannaMexico Summit in the former president’s home state of Guanajuato. Khiron said it's completed a detailed market analysis in Mexico and established a business subsidiary to address the country’s market potential.
Khiron isn’t what most would consider “Big Cannabis," at least when compared to players like Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE:CGC) or Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB). In terms of growth potential, it’s not hard to see why Fox has backed the operation.
Photo by Dustin Blitchok.
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