NEW YORK, May 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- As the burgeoning cannabis market expands around the globe, most countries have or are moving towards adopting cannabis legislation specifically for medical use. The medical cannabis marketplace is currently much more prevalent globally, even though the recreational sector thrives throughout the North American region. Nevertheless, recreational cannabis use is still allowed in countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, and even Colombia. Despite the worldwide use of cannabis, the industry remains heavily hindered by a lack of large-scale, clinical research and studies. This lack has led many countries to mistakenly assume that cannabis is simply a debilitating drug. Various government bodies are now demanding more clinical trial results in order to better understand the efficacy of cannabis and reverse the stigma that surrounds the plant. So far, research has concluded that the psychoactive effects are derived from the THC or tetrahydrocannabinol compound found within the cannabis plant. Primarily, THC is found within the marijuana family. On the other hand, the hemp family is commonly comprised of plants with high CBD presence and very minimal traces of THC, with CBD or cannabidiol, considered the non-psychoactive compound. While the two differ in their biological makeup, they both offer similar therapeutic effects. Moreover, because CBD does not cause psychoactive effects, countries are largely looking to adopt CBD for medical use. The growing adoption of CBD is further accelerating the overall cannabis market growth, despite the barriers currently hindering the THC marketspace. Nevertheless, the North American region is expected to bolster the THC marketplace, as according to data compiled by MarketsandMarkets research, the global cannabis is projected to grow from USD 10.3 Billion in 2018 to USD 39.4 Billion by 2023. Additionally, the market is estimated to register a CAGR of 30.7% during the forecast period. Blueberries Medical Corp. (OTC: BBRRF) (CSE: BBM), Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY), PharmaCielo Ltd. (OTC: PHCEF) (TSX-V: PCLO), Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (OTC: KHRNF), 22nd Century Group, Inc. (NYSE: XXII)
A handful of countries including Germany and France have already legalized the use of cannabis for medical applications. Furthermore, countries in the Latin American region are also moving towards legalization after Uruguay became the first country ever to fully legalize cannabis back in 2013. Uruguay's former President Jose Mujica allowed citizens to purchase, consume, and grow cannabis freely. Meanwhile, medical cannabis is more prevalent in other Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia. Notably, Brazil is the largest medical cannabis target market because of its population size. In late 2018, Brazil's Senate passed a bill to allow for the use and cultivation of medical cannabis. Additionally, Colombia is also a highly attractive market for many cannabis cultivators and producers. However, even though cannabis is still federally illegal in Colombia, the government has since moved to tone down regulations. In 2012, the Colombian government decriminalized the possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis. Then, in 2015, the Colombian Supreme Court ruled that cultivation of up to 20 cannabis plants was allowed. Now, Mexico is moving towards legalizing cannabis as well as Senator Olga Sánchez Cordero, interior Secretary selected by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is pushing for legalization in order to end the violent drug war and ease ongoing poverty concerns. If Mexico moves to legalize cannabis, it would join the U.S. and Canada as part of the dominant North America cannabis marketplace. "We believe that the expansion of a Latin American market will significantly impact the global cannabis industry, undercutting producers and pricing worldwide. Strong forecast population growth, a perfect climate for cannabis cultivation, bolstered by progressive legislation and regulatory change are set to ensure Latin America remains a very attractive prospect for cannabis companies, and investors," said Stephen Murphy, Managing Director at Prohibition Partners.
Blueberries Medical Corp. (OTCQB: BBRRF) (CSE: BBM) is also listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker (CSE: BBM). Earlier last month, the Company announced the, "appointment of Eduardo Molinari, a former executive of Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) ("Abbott") and AbbVie Ltd. (NYSE: ABBV) ("AbbVie") as Chief Marketing Officer. Mr. Molinari will lead the development and implementation of the Company's marketing strategies, directing these initiatives in the local and international markets.
Dr Patricio Stocker, Chief Executive Officer of the Company stated, "We are proud to welcome Mr. Molinari to our management team. Eduardo is a highly successful pharmaceutical industry executive as most recently demonstrated through his development of very successful marketing strategies at Abbott and AbbVie in Latin America. This experience along with his deep relationships will be a tremendous asset for us. Blueberries will continue to add world-class senior executives to its management team in an effort to capture a leadership share of the Latin American and international medical cannabis industry."
Mr. Molinari stated "I am excited to join Blueberries as the company continues to execute on their unique business model. The combination of world-class management, strategic Latin American facilities and global partnerships presents a very compelling opportunity. I'm eager to leverage my experience and relationships to contribute to the company's long-term success in the international marketplace."
Mr. Molinari has more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, having held executive leadership positions in countries across Latin America, most recently VP Region North – Latin America of AbbVie until December 2018. In 2012, when Abbott spun out it's pharmaceutical business to form AbbVie, Mr. Molinari left Abbott to establish AbbVie in Latin America where he played a key role in the growth of the company in the region. His business expertise is combined with deep experience in R&D both in academia at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago and in the pharmaceutical industry. Mr. Molinari has shown continued growth as a leader in the industry with a commitment to bringing healthcare solutions to patients globally.
Mr. Molinari has been granted options (the 'Options') to purchase up to 200,000 common shares in the capital of the Company, pursuant to the Company's stock option plan. The Options are exercisable at a price of $0.75 per share.
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, the company had 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.
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 the Company had received the ISO 9001: 2015 certification for its cultivation and extraction operations. The ISO 9001 certification, awarded to PharmaCielo, covers the production of vegetable materials for the propagation, flowering and production of both psychoactive (THC) and non-psychoactive (CBD) cannabis. It was achieved following a rigorous audit process conducted at the Company's Colombian facilities by inspection and certification company SGS. "PharmaCielo and our people continue to be the trailblazers of the Colombian cannabis industry, and we keep raising the bar. We were Colombia's first licensed producer, and first recipient of quota for propagation, among other milestones of industry leadership. Now, we are the first and only local cannabis producer to receive this coveted quality assurance certification," said David Attard, Chief Executive Officer at PharmaCielo. "Receiving and adhering to the high quality requirements of the ISO 9001 standard truly sets PharmaCielo apart and further attests to our commitment to production of the highest quality medicinal cannabis oils."
Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (OTCQB: KHRNF) is positioned to be the dominant integrated cannabis company in Latin America. Khiron Life Sciences Corp. recently announced that it had signed a distribution agreement for its Kuida® cosmeceutical brand with Cafam, a leading Colombian drugstore chain. Cafam is a large Colombian conglomerate that is diversified across multiple business lines, with operations built over a 40-year history. Cafam operates 270 stores across 63 different markets in Colombia, generating annual revenue of USD 561 Million. The Company's agreement with the drugstore division of Cafam, represents an initial 49 point of sale locations for Kuida®, and an agreement to expand this distribution to a total of 150 stores in the first six months of roll-out of the agreement. Mr. Alvaro Torres, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Khiron, comments: "We continue to see strong demand for the Kuida brand and this agreement with Cafam ensures we can reach more consumers in a convenient point-of purchase environment. As part of a multi-channel retail distribution strategy, and backed with our comprehensive product training programs this new partnership expands our reach in targeting the USD 10 Billion Latin American skincare market."
22nd Century Group, Inc. (NYSE: XXII) is a plant biotechnology company focused on technology which allows the increase or decrease in the level of nicotine in tobacco plants and the level of cannabinoids in hemp/cannabis plants through genetic engineering and plant breeding. 22nd Century Group, Inc. recently announced that the 2018 Farm Bill will greatly enhance the Company's research activities around low-THC Cannabis sativa L. Recently, President Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, including an important provision to legalize hemp, defined as Cannabis sativa L. containing not more than 0.3% THC (the compound in cannabis responsible for psychotropic effects). Cannabis plants with higher levels of THC (i.e. marijuana) remain illegal under federal law. As a Research Partner of the State of New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, and with extensive experience in plant biotechnology and genetics, 22nd Century scientists are uniquely capable of exploiting cannabis DNA. The new law will allow 22nd Century to expand the Company's research activities, to add to the Company's cannabis intellectual property portfolio, and to increase the Company's cannabis germplasm library through the legal interstate commerce of proprietary low-THC Cannabis sativa L. plants. "In ending the legal uncertainty that low-THC cannabis research has entailed, and by opening the door for legal sales of hemp across state lines, the 2018 Farm Bill will result in a vibrant and growing marketplace for 22nd Century's unique varieties," explained Dr. Paul Rushton, Vice President of Biotechnology at 22nd Century Group. "With a sizeable head-start in low-THC Cannabis sativa research in collaboration with the Company's fully licensed and accredited partners, 22nd Century is poised to take advantage of hemp's new legal status and to develop and commercialize new hemp/cannabis varieties for the medical and agricultural fields."
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