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EXCLUSIVE: Big Costa Rica Sugar Company Gets Into The Cannabis Industry, Could Create 500 Jobs In 3 Years

Azucarera El Viejo, a Costa Rica-based sugar company founded in 1958, is announcing Tuesday that it has entered into an agreement with Merida Capital Holdings, a leading cannabis private equity firm with more than 75 companies in their cannabis portfolio, to build a world-class medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and finished goods production facility on its land in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Benzinga has learned exclusively at its Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference going on in Chicago.

Legal Cannabis In Costa Rica

Costa Rica has legalized the use of cannabis for medical and therapeutic purposes. The country is currently in the process of creating regulations for medical cannabis and hemp as a food additive.

Expediente No 21.388 (the law legalizing cannabis) is specifically designed to offer Costa Rica's population an alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals and allow patients to choose cannabis as a treatment for a variety of ailments and conditions, as well as therapeutic use for those suffering from chronic conditions.  

Old Meets New

By partnering with one of the global leaders in medical cannabis investments, El Viejo will be able to parlay its leadership position as an agricultural producer in the sugar industry, as well as other finished goods, adding another agricultural product to its diverse portfolio.

"We are thrilled to partner with Merida Capital, one of the world leaders in investing in the medical cannabis space, to bring the best industry know-how to our future production site in Costa Rica," Alfonso Gomez, vice president of Azucarera El Viejo, told Benzinga.

Tapping El Viejo's leading Cogeneration and carbon-friendly methods and processes, and Merida's vast experience in building medical cannabis facilities, educating patients and doctors alike, El Viejo and Merida intend to create a sustainable cultivation and production campus that will also seek to help smaller operators get their products to market to serve Costa Rican patients.

"El Viejo's presence as a well-respected and established operator in both the agricultural and finished goods industries is a perfect compliment to Merida's medical cannabis focus," added Mitch Baruchowitz, managing partner of Merida Capital Holdings.  

The project is expected to begin in 2023 and will be located on El Viejo's agricultural production site in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

The project, which could eventually include manufacturing facilities to assist smaller growers, as well as an innovation lab for emerging growers and lab testing and other scientific services, may employ up to 200 people initially in its first phase, growing to more than 500 by the end of its third year.

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