Medicanja values ‘potential’ ganja market at US$1.5b
Medicanja Jamaica Limited, the first local developer of medical marijuana products, says it will be 'open for business' this November when its first six ganja pharmaceuticals are due to hit the local market, through pharmacy channels.
The four-year-old company has invested more than US$3 million in scientific research and product development, according to founder and CEO Dr Henry Lowe, who notes the control over the product cycle, from formulation to commercial-isation, gives Medicanja competitive advantage.
Lowe, a research scientist, asserts that the cannabis industry has the potential to surpass both tourism and remittances in hard currency earnings.
"If one was to review the potential of the local market including health and wellness tourism, with special reference to cruise ship stop over, stopover visitors, cottage industries, the nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, functional foods, pharmaceuticals and others, the value of the existing market as of next year - if properly organised with a strategic plan - could easily start at US$1.5 billion now and grow to surpass the tourism industry and even remittance inflows," said the Medicanja CEO.
Those sectors account for foreign exchange flows of more than US$2 billion each.
Lowe declined to name the products to be launched on Wednesday. However, Medicanja has previously unveiled a number of products designed to treat and manage some 84 maladies, overall - Ganja Relief, Ganja Salve, Ganjaflam, Ganja Col, Ganja Rub, Ganja Pain and Ganja Sure. Last year those products were said to be market-ready and only awaiting regulatory approval.
Medicanja also spoke of future products that would include Ganja Viz, a glaucoma eye drop aimed at regulating inner ocular eye pressure; Ganja Derm, a transdermal pain medication patch; Ganja Vit, a cannabis multivitamin tonic; Ganja Tabs comprising cannabis CBD tablets; and Ganja Tea, a cannabis leaf tea.
While the medical marijuana company is currently rolling out local distribution, Lowe said Medicanja will definitely be targeting the international market.
"Our strategic plan and build out relies heavily on the international markets. We have identified countries have either decriminalised or legalised the use of medicinal marijuana," he said. "More will be said about this later."
Lowe adds that Medicanja is itself being wooed by foreign investors - "These include interests mainly from North America and Europe" - who want a piece of the business, but he signalled that the company remains wedded to going public in Jamaica and other markets.
"The board of directors felt committed to the fact that Medicanja was developed in the interest of Jamaica and also promised that an initial public offering would be launched, which would give all Jamaicans who wish to be involved in the cannabis industry, the opportunity to be involved in Medicanja in a variety of ways...," he said, adding that they anticipate high interest from the stock market once the shares are floated.
"One of the objective is not only to register on the Jamaica junior stock exchange, but plans are well advanced for it to be registered on the Canadian, Australian and US stock markets," Lowe said.
The scientist predicts that his company will eventually have the capacity to pull in US$1 billion of annual revenue, saying his projection is based on the level of research, development and quality of the products that Medicanja plans to sell.
"It is from this point of view that Medicanja sees itself not only as a local company but an international company in the R&D, novel product development and sales of these products," he said.
The company also plans to do business in different market segments, at least at the local level.
"Although the pharmacy sector will be our major pursuits, we have applied for licence under many other areas regulated by the Cannabis Licensing Authority. The public will be kept abreast of these as we roll them out over the next month, depending on approval from the CLA," said Lowe.
Medicanja was established in December 2013. Its sole shareholder is listed as EHF Resource Development Limited, which is headquartered at Lowe's Eden Garden's property in Kingston.
EHF Resource is in turn owned by another of Lowe's companies, Environmental Health Foundation. EHF's directors are listed as Henry Lowe, Errol Morrison, Novlet Green, Herbert Lowe and Oral Shaw.