Fri | Jun 22, 2018

Lasco to enter medical ganja market - ​Creates subsidiary for joint venture partnership, awaits licence

Published:Friday | January 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Chairman of Lasco, Lascelles Chin.

 

Chairman Lascelles Chin said on Thursday that Lasco Manufacturing has applied for licensing to produce medicinal ganja products and expects a short wait.

The new business line will be executed through Lasvac Limited, a company registered by Lasco on January 8 of this year.

Chin's comment followed the signing of an agreement Wednesday with Denver, Colorado-based United Cannabis, or UCANN, an organisation said to be dedicated to advancing the use of cannabinoids, or CBDs, as medicine across the globe.

UCANN has engaged Lasco Manufacturing, through subsidiary Lasvac, to produce CBD water and other bionutrient medicinals in the form of capsules, sublinguals, roll-ons, and balms for markets in the English-speaking Caribbean and Central America, excluding Mexico.

"We have invested in a separate, stand-alone facility to manufacture and process the medicinal products. The CBD water will be bottled using existing infrastructure," Chin told the Financial Gleaner on Thursday via email.

"We have submitted all the necessary documentation to the relevant authority for processing. We have every confidence in the agency to process the licence request in a professional and timely manner," he said.

All ganja-related activity has to be licensed by the Cannabis Licensing Authority, which regulates Jamaica's legal marijuana and hemp industry.

The one-third joint venture between Lasvac, UCANN, and Cannabinoid Research and Development Company Limited will see Lasco being responsible for manufacturing the products; UCANN, for all the expertise and the patents; and Cannabinoid Research for planting, a company release said.

In a release issued last October, UCANN said Cannabinoid Research was founded by a small group of Jamaican cannabis advocates, who felt that it was high time for, using Jamaican parlance, 'freeing up the weed'.

UCANN owns 50 per cent of Cannabinoid Research.

"The venture identified a 30,000-square-foot facility in Kingston's industrial zone to serve as its corporate headquarters, but a lease has not yet been signed," the October release said.

Chin declined to state the investment involved.

"Pending the receipt of the requisite licences, we hope to have the product to market locally, regionally and internationally in approximately nine months," he said.

He told the Financial Gleaner that raw materials "will be sourced from local farmers, who will be provided with high-quality seedlings at the lowest possible price and other support resources".

In a release issued by Lasco after Wednesday's signing ceremony, the company touted interest in the products from as far as Australia, saying potential purchasers from that continent have visited the Jamaican company and are "interested in placing large orders not only for the CBD water, but also for the medicinal products", and that enquiries are also coming in from Canada, Italy, Europe, and Ukraine.

"It will also be a game changer for our local agricultural sector, as vast quantities of the plants will be required to supply the demand, giving our Jamaican farmers an opportunity to earn a good living," Chin said in the release.

CEO of United Cannabis Earnest Blackmon said the partnership was the culmination of a four-year effort to kick-start such a venture in the Caribbean.

The company said that by manufacturing the products in Jamaica, UCANN takes advantage of the number of trade agreements that the island has in place with other nations, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, that allow the purchase of hemp-based products from Jamaica.

The release disclosed that Cannabinoid Research has "been experimenting in Jamaica for a number of years on the ideal variety of hemp and will be responsible not only for growing, but also producing the best seedlings of cannabis to supply both large and small farmers in Jamaica". The company's CEO is Kenyama Brown.

The global medical marijuana market is expected to reach a value of US$56 billion by 2025, according to a report published this month by Grand View Research Inc.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com