NEW YORK, June 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Before the prohibition era, cannabis was commonly used as a medicinal treatment, however, it became illegal under international regulations due to its psychoactive properties derived from the marijuana compound. While marijuana provides users with cerebral-altering effects, scientific studies have linked marijuana to effectively treating a variety of medical conditions such as cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, arthritis, and other neurological conditions. Currently, advancements in the medical and healthcare industry are expected to accelerate the cannabis market. However, within the shortcoming years, the recreational segment is expected to overshadow the medical segment as the North American cannabis marketplace continues to mature. Nevertheless, the medical cannabis industry is still expected to be much more globally prevalent and accessible because of the numerous countries that have moved to adopt medical legislation. Now, large global markets such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Colombia, Poland, Uruguay, and Israel are all expected to contribute to the global medical cannabis market. Furthermore, countries such as the U.K. and Thailand are also exploring cannabis legalization. According to data compiled by Grand View Research, the global legal marijuana market is expected to reach USD 66.3 Billion by the end of 2025, exhibiting a CAGR of 23.9%. Blueberries Medical Corp. (OTC: BBRRF) (CSE: BBM), Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY), Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (OTC: KHRNF) (TSX-V: KHRN), PharmaCielo Ltd. (OTC: PHCEF) (TSX-V: PCLO), Neptune Wellness Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: NEPT) (TSX: NEPT)
Many people rely on health insurance in order to cover expenses of high-cost treatments or just to simply cover their over-the-counter prescription. According to the 2018 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements (CPS ASEC) and the American Community Survey (ACS), in 2017, over 91.2% Americans, or 294.6 million people, had health insurance coverage. However, medical cannabis is not currently covered by health insurers because it is still classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance on a federal level. Most patients are required to pay out-of-pocket for their medical cannabis prescription, which can be quite costly for patients who suffer from chronic pain and require a daily dosage. And despite the growth of the cannabis industry, the prices for products remain relatively expensive for an average consumer. Depending on the quality as well as other direct factors, medical cannabis prescriptions can generally cost anywhere from USD 5 per gram to USD 20 per gram. Typically, states that passed medical cannabis legislation earlier tend to have significantly lower prices when compared to states that recently implemented medical cannabis. Moreover, different cannabis products such as concentrates, extracts, and tinctures can be much more expensive than traditional cannabis flower. The prices consumers pay are a result of numerous factors such as cultivation costs as well as federally mandated taxes and fees. Due to the overwhelming tax rate, some regions can charge an absurd amount for cannabis products. As a result, many cultivators have decided to launch operations within the Latin American region. Many chose Latin America because of the lower cultivation costs as it is significantly cheaper to grow cannabis in Colombia compared to Canada, according to Matt Karnes, Managing Partner of GreenWave Advisors, a New York-based investment firm. Karnes said that producing a gram of cannabis in Colombia can cost CAD 0.05 cents compared to CAD 1.50 in Canada. Generally, the lower wages factor heavily into the cost of cultivation in Colombia, considering the minimum wage is only CAD 1.64 per hour compared to CAD 14 per hour in Ontario. "To date in the legal cannabis industry, it's largely been all about indoor, high-end flower as a key product category. Going forward, the growth of concentrates, edibles, and pharmaceuticals means that this will less and less be the case," said Tom Adams, Managing Director and Principal Analyst at BDS Analytics. "Colombia's advantages as a low-cost, outdoor growth venue will place the country's cultivators in good stead in worldwide markets."
Blueberries Medical Corp. (OTCQB: BBRRF) (CSE: BBM) is also listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker (CSE: BBM). Yesterday, the Company announced, "the appointment of Ian D. Atacan CPA, CMA, MBA, B.Sc. as Chief Financial Officer, replacing interim Chief Financial Officer Chris Reid, who was contracted to assist the Company with financial oversight from inception until such time as the Company procured a permanent Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Reid will work with Mr. Atacan and the Company to support a seamless transition, and the Company would like to thank Mr. Reid for his services.
Mr. Atacan brings over 25 years of financial management experience to Blueberries, having been in leadership roles with high-growth and start-up stage organizations in both the public and private markets across various industries including cannabis, mining and oil & gas. Mr. Atacan most recently served as Chief Financial Officer of Natura Naturals Holdings Inc., a licensed Canadian cannabis producer, until its acquisition by Tilray Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) for $82 million in 2019 where he played an instrumental role in the completion of the strategic transaction and assisted with various core functionalities. Prior to that, Mr. Atacan served as Chief Financial Officer of Global Atomic Corporation, a TSX Venture Exchange listed uranium mining and zinc recycling company with operations in Niger and Turkey, from 2010-2018. Throughout his career, Mr. Atacan excelled in strategic corporate initiatives, shareholder value creation, and risk management. Mr. Atacan is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and holds a B.Sc. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and an MBA (International Finance).
Dr. Patricio Stocker, CEO of Blueberries commented: "We are pleased to welcome Mt. Atacan as our new CFO. Mr. Atacan's vast experience with public companies and his recent success selling Natura Naturals to Tilray will strengthen our management team significantly. His wide-ranging experience in finance and strong leadership skills will be great assets to our company."
Mr. Atacan, CFO commented: "I'm eager to join the Blueberries team during this exciting time of growth for the company. Latin America represents a tremendous opportunity and Blueberries is well positioned to lead this next evolution of the cannabis market. I was also very impressed with the Company's expertise in agriculture, genetics, extraction, medicine, pharmacology and marketing and the strength of its strategic partners. Having grown Natura Naturals to the stage of being acquired, I look forward to leveraging this experience assisting Blueberries with its continued success."
The Company has granted 100,000 compensation shares to Mr. Atacan as well as options (the "Options") to purchase up to 900,000 common shares in the capital of the Company, pursuant to the Company's stock option plan. The Options are exercisable at a price of $0.55 per share for a period of five years, subject to vesting.
About Blueberries Medical Corp: Blueberries is a Latin American licensed producer of naturally grown premium quality cannabis with its primary operations ideally located in the Bogotá Savannah of central Colombia and operations currently being established in Argentina. The Company is led by a specialized team with proprietary expertise in agriculture, genetics, extraction, medicine, pharmacology and marketing, Blueberries is fully licensed for the cultivation, production, domestic distribution, and international export of CBD and THC-based medical cannabis in Colombia. 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.
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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 ("Alef"), the company has officially relaunched as Tilray Latin America SpA ("Tilray Latin America"), 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.
Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (OTCQB: KHRNF) (TSX-V: KHRN) is positioned to be the dominant integrated cannabis company in Latin America. Khiron Life Sciences Corp. recently announced that it had completed the acquisition of NettaGrowth International Inc., previously announced on January 25th, 2019 and April 9th, 2019, and its wholly-owned subsidiary Dormul S.A., an Uruguayan company that has obtained the first license to produce and export medical cannabis with THC for commercialization in Uruguay. As consideration for the acquisition of NettaGrowth, Khiron has issued 8,498,821 common shares to the shareholders of NettaGrowth at a deemed price of USD 1.61 per common share. Alvaro Torres, Khiron Chief Executive Officer and Director, comments, "Closing of the acquisition of Nettagrowth represents an important milestone for Khiron. With this deal we expand our geographic footprint into a market we know well, and secure access to potential patients in Uruguay and in Southern Brazil.
PharmaCielo Ltd. (OTC: PHCEF) (TSX-V: PCLO) is a global company, headquartered in Canada, with a focus on ethical and sustainable processing and supplying of all natural, medicinal-grade cannabis oil extracts and related products to large channel distributors. PharmaCielo Ltd. recently announced that it had entered into a scheme implementation agreement pursuant to which PharmaCielo has agreed to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares and listed options of Creso Pharma Ltd., for an aggregate purchase price of approximately AUD 122 million. Creso Pharma is a global medicinal cannabis company that specializes in research, development and production of therapeutic, nutraceutical and animal health products. "PharmaCielo's acquisition of Creso Pharma, harnessing the synergies between us, creates a combined company that is poised to become a global powerhouse in the medicinal cannabis industry. Upon closing of the transaction, the combined company will quadruple our global footprint with presence in more than a dozen countries spanning North and Latin America, Switzerland, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand," said David Attard, Chief Executive Officer of PharmaCielo. "The Acquisition affords us the opportunity to bring our high-quality Colombian oil production to market immediately and expand into higher-margin, branded product sales faster by harnessing the expertise of a proven and highly engaged commercialization team possessing both an immediately available product portfolio and active international sales channels."
Neptune Wellness Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: NEPT) (TSX: NEPT) specializes in the extraction, purification and formulation of health and wellness products. Neptune Wellness Solutions Inc. recently announced that it has received its license to process cannabis from Health Canada. The Health Canada license enables Neptune to handle dried cannabis, to manufacture and purify cannabis extracts and cannabis oil, and to sell its services to other license holders. With production activities anticipated to commence shortly at Neptune's 50,000 sq. ft. good manufacturing practice (GMP)-certified facility in Sherbrooke, Quebec, the Company expects to be able to generate revenues from existing supply agreements and conclude additional agreements shortly. "This is a thrilling moment for Neptune as our ambition to redeploy our core competencies to exciting consumer product categories by creating and delivering differentiated formulations for the burgeoning cannabis market becomes a reality. Neptune's long-standing scientific expertise in the formulation of natural health products supports our ability to deliver exceptional quality formulations for our business customers. The processing license granted by the agency puts us on a new growth trajectory, positioning Neptune as a provider of extracted cannabis products in this large, growing global market segment," said Jim Hamilton, President & Chief Executive Officer of Neptune.
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