Mon | Sep 23, 2019

Lasco partner UCANN granted cannabis cultivation licence

Published:Wednesday | August 7, 2019 | 12:18 AMKarena Bennett/Business Reporter

United Cannabis Corporation (UCANN), the American company that has partnered with Lasco Manufacturing for the production of cannabis-infused water among other cannabis medicinals, has been issued a licence to cultivate cannabis through a company called Cannabinoid Research and Development (CRD).

The update from United Cannabis CEO Earnest Blackmon comes 18 months after Lasco Manufacturing struck a US$103 million ($12.8 billion) deal with United Cannabis and CRD to manufacture medicinals in the form of capsules, sublinguals, roll-ons, and balms for export to the English-speaking Caribbean and Central America.

On Tuesday, United Cannabis announced that it had initiated distribution in The Cayman Islands for its patented Prana Hemp products as well as hemp-derived extracts.

Lasco Manufacturing, which formed a new company for the venture called Lasvac, has earmarked US$100 million for the manufacture and distribution of the products. The remaining US$3 million will come from United Cannabis, which holds a 50 per cent stake in CRD.

Aside from the capital expenditure, United Cannabis brings to the table its long-term experience and intellectual property.

CRD will be responsible for growing the cannabis plant locally. The company is said to be one of only 15 applicants to receive a cultivation licence from the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA).

“Jamaica represents a significant market opportunity, and United Cannabis has made a material investment in building the foundation necessary to launch a full-scale operation there. The granting of this licence is confirmation from the CLA that we are on our way,” Blackmon said.

CRD focuses on genetic restoration, cannabinoid isolation techniques, and scientific research. The company aims to engage the College of Agriculture Science and Education, among other institutions and retirees across Jamaica, to breed strains suitable for its business model.

The company awaits further approvals from the CLA but has not disclosed what those permits entail.

“I am confident that our outstanding applications will be approved shortly, and we look forward to establishing Jamaica as the production hub for international distribution of United Cannabis products,” Blackmon said.

United Cannabis currently sources high cannabidiol or CBD isolates and distillates for its hemp products from licensed manufacturers in Europe. As a biotechnology company dedicated to managing ailments through cannabinoid-based products, United Cannabis develops, produces, and distributes proprietary cannabis products and technologies, including its patented product brand, Prana Therapeutics.

The company has a state-of-the-art grow, processing, testing, and production facility in Colorado, United States, and has established a strong presence in the hemp-derived cannabidiol market.

The partnership between Lasco Manufacturing and United Cannabis is believed to have already garnered attention from Australia for the CBD water product and enquiries about other “Made in Jamaica” medicinal products. Inquiries have also come from several territories, including Canada, Italy, Europe, and Ukraine.

It is not clear how many acres of lands CRD has earmarked for the venture or where the cultivation will take place.

Founder and executive chairman of the Lasco companies Lascelles Chin, while tight-lipped on the details, previously disclosed that the company had secured land “close by” its White Marl facilities and should have begun manufacturing the products in September.

Efforts by the Financial Gleaner to get an update on the project were unsuccessful up to press time.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com