Further strengthening ties in South / Latin America, Aphria Inc. (TSX: APHA; NYSE: APHA) is teaming up with the Colombian medical guild Federación Médica Colombiana (FMC) through subsidiary Colcanna SAS.

Colcanna and the FMC have inked an exclusive agreement to develop curriculum for medical students and doctors on the use of cannabis in treating patients.

Once fully developed, that curriculum will be made available to more than 70,000 members of the medical community through FMC’s online database platform.

The Federación Médica Colombiana operates an education platform for 70,000 medical professionals across the country, offering certified courses on a range of subjects. It will use this platform to explain the conditions that cannabis can treat and raise awareness of its medicinal properties, while also hosting specific events for the medical community focusing on marijuana.

In 2015, Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos signed legislation allowing cannabis and derivatives for medicinal purposes and established guidelines for dispensaries. The industry is gathering pace, but it has not reached its full potential yet due to a lack of education among the gatekeepers.

Educating doctors and turning them into advocates is one of the biggest opportunities the nascent global cannabis industry faces as it seeks to grow.

Legalization and decriminalization efforts worldwide have brought changes to studying and teaching about cannabis in both academic and medical circles.

In Canada for instance, Canopy Growth Corporation (TSX: WEED; NYSE: CGC) established the Professor of Cannabis Science position at the University Of British Columbia late last year.

Aphria’s Vice President of LATAM & Caribbean operations Gabriel Menesesat commented on the company’s new partnership with the FMC:

Education in the medical community is critical for sustaining the advancement of medical cannabis in Colombia. Colcanna is proud to make this arrangement with Federación Médica Colombiana, which will offer medical professionals across the country a credible and trusted source of information and training on medical cannabis.

Colombia is expected to emerge as of the world’s largest regulated cannabis producers due to its ideal growing conditions and cheap labour costs. It has already issued more than 30 licenses to legal growers and it aims to account for at least a fifth of global production, with a particular focus on derivatives.

North American firms have realized its potential and they continue to pile in. Last week Helix TCS expanded its footprint into the country, and this week Nevada-based Digipath chose Colombia as the first country in its international expansion drive, announcing that it will provide cannabis testing for both local consumers and cannabis exporters.

Colcanna SAS is one of the Latin American acquisitions that was recently the subject of a negative short seller report, which saw a tumultuous end to 2018 for Aphria.

That report prompted the company to appoint a special committee to review the acquisition, and was shortly followed by an unsolicited takeover attempt by Green Growth Brands.

After rejecting the proposal on the grounds of undervaluing the company, Aphria chairman Irwin Simon appeared on CNBC to discuss the Green Growth takeover bid, stating the two organizations could potentially partner together but giving no indication an actual deal is in the works.

While based in Canada, Aphria has focused on Latin American expansion lately. The company recently inked a deal to cultivate cannabis in Argentina in an agreement reached directly with the country’s federal government, as well as signing a letter of intent to supply medical marijuana in Paraguay.

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