Uruguay inaugurated the first laboratory of cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals in Latin America on Wednesday.
Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez cut the ribbon symbolically opening the lab in the southern province of Canelones, later taking a tour of the facility’s interior.
The project was launched by ICC Labs Inc., a newly acquired subsidiary of Canada’s Aurora Cannabis Inc.
At a press conference, ICC Labs CEO Alejandro Antalich declared that the laboratory has the “production capacity to supply almost the entire South American continent.”
He also suggested that the lab will also have the capacity to supply Central America and Mexico.
“For a long time, Uruguay was known as the Switzerland of the Americas. I believe that today, with the help of Aurora, and considering that we are creating a new industry in Uruguay, we have the possibility of being known as the Switzerland of the Americas again,” Antalich said.
The lab represents an investment of roughly $12 million, he said.
“The most important thing for the company was always to be able to vertically integrate the entire production matrix in Uruguay, which allows us to have very low production costs and makes us a very competitive actor worldwide,” he said.
Although the final price of the medications was not revealed, Antalich said that they will be “accessible” and that a program will be created whereby Uruguayan families with low economic resources can access the products made in this laboratory for free.
Uruguay was the first country to legalize marijuana in 2013 and in July 2017 the legal sale of marijuana for recreational purposes was begun in pharmacies.