Continued Market Expansion is Driving Cannabis Companies to New Regions
NEW YORK, Feb. 19, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The expansion of the cannabis industry has led companies involved in the marketplace to expand internationally as larger players are extending their operations into other regions such as Europe and Latin America. Cannabis is enjoying a global perspective shift on legalization, however, the industry is still heavily hindered by certain regulations. Nonetheless, many countries are exploring opportunities within the market for medical applications. Despite its continued global expansion, the U.S. continues to dominate the cannabis marketplace. According to Verified Market Intelligence, the global marijuana market was valued at USD 42.20 Billion in 2017 and is expected to reach USD 466.81 Billion by 2025. Additionally, the market is projected to register a CAGR of 35.3% throughout the forecast period from 2018 to 2025. The market is primarily being accelerated by the growing adoption of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic diseases. However, as more U.S. states begin to legalize recreational cannabis, projections show that recreational sales could overtake medical sales in the near future. Blueberries Medical Corp. (OTC: BBRRF) (CSE: BBM), Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc. (NYSE: IIPR), Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY), Village Farms International, Inc. (OTC: VFFIF) (TSX: VFF), iAnthus Capital Holdings, Inc. (OTC: ITHUF) (CSE: IAN).
Europe and the LATAM region are attractive regions for many companies to establish operations. Europe's overall cannabis market is projected to reach USD 66.8 Billion within the next five years, while the LATAM region is expected to reach USD 12.7 Billion in sales by 2028, according to Prohibition Partners. The research notes that several European countries have passed medical marijuana legislation recently, and there is a 50% chance a few more could pass recreational laws. Meanwhile, the LATAM region is being targeted mainly for cultivation facilities due to its fertile lands and inexpensive costs associated with growing, as more countries view legalization with zest. "As more markets open, international trade begins and research and science take a front seat in the coming years," said John Billings, head of cultivation for The Farm Dispensary. "There's no reason to think this trend will not continue. Growing plants/varietals with higher concentrate returns will help keep production costs down. You have old players (Israel, Jamaica, GW Pharmaceuticals and the U.S.) and new players (Canada and Mexico) coming into the scene with their own ideas and plans."
Blueberries Medical Corp. (OTC: BBRRF) (CSE: BBM) earlier last week the company announced that it, "has entered into a letter of intent (the "Letter Agreement") dated February 13, 2019 for a joint venture (the "Joint Venture") with Harmony and Life S.A.S., operating as El Manantial medical centers ("El Manantial").
The Joint Venture will further the development and commercialization of Blueberries' medicinal cannabis products through El Manantial's rapidly growing patient base and collaboration with El Manantial's team of physicians, pharmacists and technicians with deep expertise in a variety of medical areas. It will also provide a direct distribution channel to an established and rapidly growing patient by selling exclusively Blueberries' cannabis-derived products. The Company has also set out to build two BPE (Good Elaboration Practices) certified pharmacies in support of the initiative which will provide additional sales channels for Blueberries' products. Blueberries and El Manantial will also develop a treatment-focused medical education program designed to assist physicians in prescribing cannabis-based treatment plans to patients.
"Our joint venture with El Manantial provides an outstanding opportunity for Blueberries to develop medical products and acquire patients in the Colombian market", stated Christian Toro, Chief Executive Officer of the Company. "El Manantial is a respected leader in Colombia, and their focus on equitable access to medicine and patient care aligns with our goal of providing treatment to a broad spectrum of patients. The Joint Venture emphasizes communication with prescribing doctors and education of both doctors and patients which is expected to ensure that Blueberries is developing treatments that the medical community needs, and that a streamlined process is developed for the company to reach its patients."
El Manantial is among the fastest growing networks of medical centers in Colombia, currently representing over 7,000 patients and expected to grow to over 50,000 patients over the next 36-month period as four new centers are projected to come online. This is an important development in Blueberries' strategy to acquire patients and develop treatments with cannabis products, positioning Blueberries as a leader in the Colombian medicinal cannabis product market.
"This transaction will allow us the opportunity to work with the Blueberries team to develop new cannabis products and treatments, which can in turn be rolled out to our medical center network, offering patients the best possible care", stated Dr. Andres Vidal, founder of El Manantial. "We plan for our prescribing physician education program to be an important step in supporting the widespread adoption of cannabis treatments in Colombia and globally." Dr. Vidal, who has control and direction over El Manantial, is also a director of Blueberries.
Pharmacy Build-Out: Blueberries will make a strategic investment of up to C$400,000 in the construction of specialized pharmacies that are BPE (Good Elaboration Practices) certified. In addition to the pharmacies owned and operated by El Manantrial, the Company-owned pharmacies will also sell cannabis and cannabis-derived products exclusively from Blueberries. Completion of the build-out of the Company's pharmacies is expected to occur during Q3 2019.
Letter Agreement Terms: Collaborate on the research, development, and commercialization of Blueberries cannabis derived medicinal products.
Blueberries to be exclusive supplier of cannabis and cannabis-derived products to El Manantial for research and sale through their medical center network and pharmacies.
Blueberries will make a strategic investment of up to C$300,000 for the development of educational programs for the medical community to deliver to patients. The program will include certification for physicians obtained through comprehensive training, and it is expected to come online in Q2 2019.
Blueberries will invest up to C$100,000 for medical center facility upgrades to expand capacity in order to accommodate the rapidly growing patient base.
The proposed Joint Venture is subject to completion of satisfactory due diligence by each of the Company and El Manatial, and the execution of a definitive agreement.
About El Manantial: Founded in 2013 by Dr. Andres Vidal, El Manantial offers its patients the best of conventional medicine, and the best of alternative and complementary medicine, guaranteeing the best possible patient care. A diverse team of physicians and technicians of various specialties of conventional medicine, family medicine, nutrition, aesthetic medicine, homeopathic medicine, and natural medicine, bacteriologists, paramedics, pharmacists make El Manantial a leading center of medical expertise in Colombia. As one of the fastest growing medical center network in Colombia, the goal of El Manantial is to generate equitable access for all Colombians to medical treatment. The centers are actively engaged in the research and development of new and cutting-edge treatments to meet the needs of patients. For further information about El Manantial, please visit https://centromedicoelmanantial.co/.
About Blueberries Medical Corp: Blueberries is a Colombia-based licensed producer of naturally grown premium quality cannabis with its primary operations ideally located in the Bogotá savannah of central Colombia. Led by a specialized team with proprietary expertise in agriculture, genetics, extraction, medicine, pharmacology and marketing, Blueberries has received all licenses required for the cultivation, production, domestic distribution, and international export of CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)-based medical cannabis. Blueberries' combination of leading scientific expertise, agricultural advantages, and distribution arrangements has positioned the Company to become a leading international supplier of naturally grown, processed, and standardized medicinal-grade cannabis oil extracts and related products."
Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc. (NYSE: IIPR) is focused on the regulated U.S. cannabis industry. Earlier this month the company announced that it closed on the acquisition of a property in Sacramento, California, which comprises approximately 43,000 square feet of industrial space. This acquisition marks IIP's first investment in California and expands its portfolio to ten U.S. states. The purchase price for the Sacramento property was approximately $6.7 million (excluding transaction costs). Concurrent with the closing of the purchase, IIP entered into a long-term, triple-net lease agreement with an experienced operator, which intends to operate the property as a licensed cannabis cultivation facility in accordance with California regulations. The seller of the property is expected to complete redevelopment of the building, for which IIP has agreed to provide reimbursement of up to $4.8 million. Assuming full reimbursement for the redevelopment, IIP's total investment in the property will be approximately $11.5 million.
Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) is a global pioneer in the research, cultivation, production and distribution of medical cannabis and cannabinoids currently serving tens of thousands of patients in twelve countries spanning five continents. Tilray, Inc. recently announced that after completing an acquisition of its existing import and distribution partner Alef Biotechnology SpA, the company has officially relaunched as Tilray Latin America SpA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tilray. Tilray Latin America will further strengthen Tilray's position as a global leader in the medical cannabis market. Tilray currently has medical cannabis products available in twelve countries and operates globally through its wholly-owned subsidiaries in Australia & New Zealand, Canada, Germany, and Portugal. Tilray Latin America will import, produce and distribute Tilray branded medical cannabis products in Chile and create a hub to distribute Tilray products throughout Latin America, subject to local laws. Tilray previously announced a partnership with Alef Biotechnology in February 2017 to import and distribute Tilray products in Chile and Brazil. Alef, now Tilray Latin America, is currently licensed by the Chilean government to commercially produce medical cannabis and is planning a state-of-the-art facility to domestically produce and process medical cannabis products. Chilean law permits patients to access medical cannabis products under the supervision of a recommending physician.
Village Farms International, Inc. (OTCQX: VFFIF) (TSX: VFF) is one of the largest and longest-operating vertically integrated greenhouse growers in North America and the only publicly traded greenhouse produce company in Canada. Village Farms International, Inc. recently announced that its 50%-owned joint venture for large-scale, low-cost, high-quality cannabis production, Pure Sunfarms Corp. has entered into a credit agreement with Bank of Montreal ("BMO"), as agent and lead lender and Farm Credit Canada as lender in respect of a CAD 20 Million secured non-revolving term loan. Pure Sunfarms intends to use the funds available under the Credit Facility to finance the final costs of converting its 1.1 million sq. ft. greenhouse for cannabis production, the vast majority of which was completed in January of this year. The funds available under the Credit Facility may also be used for general corporate purposes. "The ability to establish this Credit Facility with Bank of Montreal, a Canadian Schedule I bank, and Farm Credit Canada, the country's leading agriculture lender, is a testament to the strength and potential of Pure Sunfarms," said Michael DeGiglio, Chief Executive Officer, Village Farms International. "Village Farms has long-standing relationships with both BMO and FCC, each of which, based on our extensive histories, recognizes and values our three decades of large-scale greenhouse production experience and deep expertise throughout the supply chain. We are pleased to now extend these relationships to Pure Sunfarms as it rapidly approaches full production at one of the single largest cannabis facilities in the world and begins to generate positive cash flow from operations as expected in the first quarter of 2019."
iAnthus Capital Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: ITHUF) (CSE: IAN) owns and operates best-in-class licensed cannabis cultivation, processing and dispensary facilities throughout the United States, providing investors diversified exposure to the U.S. regulated cannabis industry. iAnthus Capital Holdings, Inc. recently announced that it has opened its first and flagship dispensary in New York on December 30, 2018. The dispensary, located at 202 Flatbush Avenue directly across from Barclays Center and Atlantic Terminal, is the first in Brooklyn, New York's largest borough, with a population of roughly 2.6 million people. The dispensary will operate under iAnthus' "Citiva" New York dispensary brand. "The opening of our Brooklyn dispensary is a major milestone for iAnthus and Citiva. With an ideal location and an expert team in place, we expect this dispensary to be a major asset to the community and the Company," said Hadley Ford, Chief Executive Officer of iAnthus. "We are incredibly proud to be the first to open a dispensary in Brooklyn, which serves as a testament to iAnthus' track record of innovation and industry firsts."
PharmaCielo Ltd. (OTC: PHCEF) (TSX-V: PCLO) is a global company privately held and headquartered in Canada, with a focus on processing and supplying all natural, medicinal-grade cannabis oil extracts and related products to large channel distributors. PharmaCielo Ltd., the Canadian parent of Colombia's premier cultivator and producer of medicinal-grade cannabis oil PharmaCielo Colombia Holdings S.A.S., recently announced that it has received a 500-year-old ancestral cannabis strain for its exclusive use from the Arhuaco indigenous people. The Company received the Seeds as part of a traditional ceremony at the site of its nursery and propagation centre in Rionegro, Antioquia. The Seeds will be cultivated by PharmaCielo in the Arhuaco's ancestral territory of the Sierra Nevada mountains. "Our team is grateful to the Arhuaco for their friendship and the trust they have placed in PharmaCielo to carry a strain of great cultural importance to the wider population of Colombia and other global markets," said Anthony Wile, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PharmaCielo Colombia"One of our primary objectives as a corporate leader in Colombia is to bring opportunity to historically exploited indigenous communities through the quality production of strains that have been in community use for hundreds of years. With a combination of pharmaceutical-grade cultivation and production standards, vastly scalable, low-cost production capacity and access to unique strains like that provided by the Arhuaco, PharmaCielo is positioned to be a global leader in the production and sale of medicinal-grade cannabis."
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