Colombian producer LaSanta Botanicals is set to expand its cannabis cultivation facility after raising $6.4 million through a non-brokered private placement.

The firm successfully completed an offering of 10.7 million units, each offering one common share and one-half common share purchase warrant. The net proceeds will be used to ramp up its operations on 20ha of fertile land just north of Bogota, where it produces more than 100 different strains.

LaSanta means “the holy” and is an ancient term for botanical medicine in Colombia. The firm, which also has offices in Canada, launched at the tail end of 2017 after it obtained a license to cultivate marijuana and produce and export cannabis extracts and genetics. In May it secured an export deal with distributor National Access Cannabis Corp. to ship its products to Canada.

It’s now bidding to expand its operations north of Bogota, where it’s developing a greenhouse and a lab for pharmaceutical manufacturing and medical research. It says that Colombia is the most densely biodiverse country on the planet, benefiting from favourable growing conditions and a stable macro-economy, so it’s perfectly placed to become a global leader in the marijuana industry.

Over the next 12 months, it plans to continue its capacity to produce 36,000 kilos of dried cannabis flower per year by 2020, which will be processed in a Good Manufacturing Practice-compliant extraction facility, while increasing its production space. The strains it produces include the iconic Santa Marta Gold and Punto Rojo varieties from Colombia, along with handcrafted, organic strains from its team.

In Colombia cannabis is permitted for medicinal use, and personal consumption and cultivation are decriminalized. It’s currently estimated to be the world’s fifth largest producer of cannabis, behind only the US, Morocco, Afghanistan, and Mexico, but it aims to be number one in the not too distant future.

Strains like Santa Marta Gold and Punto Rojo are already cherished by aficionados across the globe, giving it a strong advantage in the race for world leadership. Its operating costs are lower than countries like Canada and the US, and its climate is perfect for year-round cultivation. Colombian firms have had recent success in raising money on major exchanges, and initiatives like LaSanta’s non-brokered private placement can only help fuel further growth.

Leading North American producers like Aphria and Canopy Growth are desperate to muscle in, and they’re busy securing partnerships with local firms. “Thanks to our climate, location, and progressive regulations, we’ve believed from the beginning that Colombia was uniquely positioned as a leader in the region’s emerging medical cannabis industry,” said Bibiana Rojas, managing director at Spectrum Cannabis Colombia, after tying up a deal with Canopy Growth earlier this year.