Pharmaceutical giants are sidestepping US marijuana restrictions to research cannabis-based drugs

  • Federal policies restricting marijuana research have made it difficult to study marijuana and produce cannabis-based drugs — but that isn’t stopping pharmaceutical companies from doing it.
  • Some are researching and developing drugs made with marijuana compounds in labs just north of the border. Others are growing the raw materials for their products in South America.
  • Although only a single cannabis-based drug is currently approved for use in the US, others are likely on their way.
  • Some will appear first in marijuana dispensaries in states where marijuana has been legalized; others will await approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Getting marijuana-based drugs approved in America is no easy task.

According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, cannabis has no medical use. Until two years ago, all domestic research on the drug had to rely on rotting samples from a single, well-secured weed facility at the University of Mississippi. Today, researchers who want to grow marijuana have to apply for a license in a convoluted process that can take years. Only a single cannabis-based drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to date — and it contains CBD, a non-psychoactive compound in marijuana that is not responsible for its characteristic high.

But as researchers are only beginning to uncover, marijuana — with its roughly 400 compounds, each of which is potentially responsible for a distinct effect — has awide variety of potential medical applications, from relieving pain and nausea to reducing the symptoms of rare diseases like childhood epilepsy. And these benefits are emerging just as scientists are uncovering huge downsides to traditional medications like opioids.

Some are lending their support to Canadian marijuana startups growing their products in countries like Colombia; others are applying for permits to import marijuana extracts like CBD and THC; still others are obtaining approval in Europe first and hoping that validation gives them an edge during the difficult FDA approval process.

Cannabis startups are among a handful of ‘resident’ startups at the Johnson & Johnson incubator in Canada

At Johnson & Johnson’s JLabs in Toronto, scientists and entrepreneurs follow a gleaming steel road towards shared workspaces separated only by clear glass walls. Pops of bright blue honeycomb print and creative lighting imbue the center with a sense that change is right around the corner.

It was here, roughly a year ago, that the pharmaceutical giant welcomed the first marijuana startup into its JLabs Innovation network, an ecosystem designed to give budding companies access to the resources and leadership they need to get off the ground. JLabs accepted a second cannabis company, Vapium Medical, as a resident about three months later.

The first was Avicanna, a Toronto-based biotech company focused on medical cannabis.

As part of the JLabs ecosystem, Avicanna gets access to lab space, a Johnson & Johnson mentor, and the recognition they need to recruit top-notch scientists and researchers. In exchange, Johnson & Johnson get a chance to work with an innovative company and invest if and when they see fit.

“Partnering with JLabs allowed us to obtain a lot of credibility,” Aras Azadian, Avicanna’s CEO, told Business Insider. “It’s also a great atmosphere to work in and to bring others in.”

Before getting accepted as a JLabs resident (after applying for the third time), Avicanna was a fledgling startup, Azadian said. But that changed when the company joined JLabs.

In just over a year, the company went from a staff of five to 17 in Canada and 30 in Colombia, where the company grows and harvests the marijuana that goes into its products — which thus far include a series of patches, creams, and sprays that will be sold under the Pura Elements brand. Azadian said he expects a selection of those products to be available in dispensaries in California, where marijuana is legal, by the end of this year.

Azadian says that while Johnson & Johnson isn’t yet invested financially in Avicanna, just being in the space significantly raises the chances that the pharmaceutical giant might eventually take that leap.

“Since we’re part of their ecosystem it’s much more convenient to cooperate and collaborate — a lot more so than to start working with new company,” Azadian said. “I think we’ve positioned ourselves well to be a good fit for them.”

Avicanna’s initial product lineup will go to US dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal, like California.

But Azadian is hopeful that the company’s research with scientists at the University of Toronto, including tests in cells and mice and eventual clinical trials in humans, will bolster their next line of products, which are geared towards treating medical conditions like eczema. Avicanna also hopes to eventually launch sustained-release capsule formulations aimed at pain relief.

“I think with our approach — strictly looking at this from a medical perspective with a team of some of the best scientists on board — I’m excited to see where this goes,” Azadian said.

https://www.businessinsider.com/marijuana-drugs-fda-pharma-studying-marijuana-2018-3

3 Cannabis Companies Discuss Emerging Market Opportunities

Key players in the cannabis industry shared their views on emerging market opportunities in the sector at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Toronto. Common themes among the execs were the importance of finding good partners, focusing on diversity and expanding brands.

Supreme Cannabis Company President Nav Dhaliwal

  • “The company focuses on endeavors on a domestic and global level. Medical is a very international market; we see us [as] having a certain advantage long-term.”
  • “Foreign investment is a commodity and will be treated that way in pharmaceutical and medical markets. You have to be creative about how you are going to market and compete with other markets.”

Pistil + Sigma CEO Rebecca Gasca

  • “I have always been a rule breaker. Once I learned I could rewrite the rules, I became a creator.”
  • “For opportunities, it is crucial to actually look at cannabis as a whole plant and something that can provide an array of products and supplements.”
  • “This is a global market without regulation. So you have to be leery about who you work with and who you partner with.”
  • “From a risk standpoint, companies need to look from a broad perspective. Countries are increasingly branding protection to European countries. If you’re not considering hemp, you’re thinking of everything completely wrong. It’s a very broad conversation that needs to happen.”

Avicanna CEO Aras Azadian

  • “The European market is potentially the biggest one. We take a strategic approach per country and aim to focus on competitive advantage.”
  • “Opportunities are always about inherent risks. Cultivation, construction, large infrastructure. [It’s] all about having business plans and de-risking it and being focused.”
  • “Especially with medical markets on an international platform, partners invest alongside you, giving lots of opportunities and pitches. A company should see the alignment in term of risks and capital investment and work toward the same goal. But it is a new industry with lots of risk, so foreign relations is very important and provides you the advantage to make your company a first mover.”

Avicanna Acquires Majority Interest in Colombian Cannabis Cultivator

PARTNERS WITH COLOMBIAN MULTIBILLION DOLLAR AGRICULTURAL COMPANY, DAABON; RECEIVES LEAD ORDER IN GOING PUBLIC FINANCING FROM DAABON

TORONTO, Aug.16, 2018 /CNW/ – Avicanna Inc. (“Avicanna” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce it has acquired a sixty percent (60%) controlling interest in Santa Marta Golden Hemp S.A.S. (“SMGH”), a company that has been issued a full suite of medical cannabis licenses in Colombia. The other substantial holder in SMGH is controlled by El Grupo Daabon (“Daabon”), a global industrial scale organic agricultural company based in Colombia. Daabon has also committed to lead Avicanna’s IPO financing and subscribe for up to 20% of the offering.

This acquisition represents a significant milestone for the cannabis industry, being the first in which a major multinational agricultural corporation has taken a position in a joint venture of this nature. Daabon and Avicanna will be combining resources and expertise including Avicanna’s leadership in research and biotechnological developments in the cannabinoid sector and Daabon’s global leadership within the agricultural industry of industrial scale organic cultivation, processing and distribution. Daabon has agreed to dedicate all of its cannabis activities through SMGH, allowing Avicanna to capitalize on Daabon’s well established global roots in the agricultural industry.

The transaction contemplates: i) Avicanna’s acquisition of a sixty percent (60%) controlling interest of the total issued and outstanding shares of SMGH and ii) the issuance of 1,477,818 of Avicanna common shares, equivalent to 11.2% of its total issued and outstanding common shares as at April 30, 2018.

Key highlights of the transaction:

Best in class partnership and international vertical integration.
The partnership will combine a top Canadian biotechnological company focusing on advancements in cannabinoid research and product development with a multi-billion dollar global organic agricultural enterprise.
SMGH is situated on, and owns, a sixteen-hectare parcel of land on the Caribbean coast near Santa Marta.
Access to sustainable, and environmentally responsible agricultural business and expertise with over 15,000 hectares certified for organic cultivation which will allow SMGH to scale operations significantly.
Potential for the development of industrial scale extraction plant in line with Daabon’s current palm oil processing plant, which has the largest capacity in the Americas to extract 1,200 tonnes of raw materials a day.
Enhanced infrastructure, and access to duty-free zones controlled by Daabon paving the way for the development of a global distribution network.
Distribution and global footprints of both organizations, including Avicanna’s offices in four (4) countries and Daabon’s offices in six (6) countries with sales in over twenty (20) countries worldwide.
Anticipated API and final product sales, inclusive of Avicanna’s skin care and medical cannabis products, which utilizes the research and product development carried out in MaRS and through research partnerships with the University of Toronto and University Health Network.
Daabon to place lead order in Avicanna’s IPO Financing

Daabon, through its closely held corporate entity, has agreed to lead Avicanna’s IPO financing round by taking up to 20% of the brokered private placement. Proceeds from the IPO financing will be used for Avicanna’s R&D projects in Canada, clinical projects around the world, funding of infrastructure in its agricultural projects in Colombia, and the growth of commercialization and distribution channels in Latin America and Europe.

Stay Connected

For more information about Avicanna Inc. and Santa Marta Golden Hemp S.A.S., visit www.avicanna.com, call 1-647-243-5283, or email info@avicanna.com.

About Santa Marta Golden Hemp S.A.S.

SMGH is a federally licensed and vertically integrated cannabis company based in Santa Marta, Colombia. Utilizing ideal environmental conditions as well as local organic cultivation expertise, SMGH aims to be one of the largest and most sustainable cannabis cultivation projects in the world. As an Avicanna subsidiary, SMGH leverages the intellectual property and advanced scientific know-how of Avicanna’s team to execute its business model which includes cultivation, extraction, manufacturing, analytical testing and commercialization of its final products. With the support of global organic leaders, Grupo Daabon, SMGH is dedicated to environmental preservation, SMGH will cultivate 100% sun grown certified organic cannabis. Implementing Good Agricultural Practices (G.A.P) and Good manufacturing Practices (G.M.P)

About El Grupo Daabon

The Grupo Daabon is a pioneer and leader in the production of sustainable and organic ingredients in South America with headquarters located in Santa Marta, Colombia. The family-owned company was founded in 1914 and has grown to become the largest organic agriculture company in South America, employing well over 3000 with operations across 4 continents and sales in over 20 countries. Its operations include cultivation, the largest palm oil refinery in the Americas, production of glycerin and bio-fuels, construction, port management and duty-free zones. Daabon is also a global leader in production of organic palm oil, bananas, coffee, and avocado with over 40 organic and sustainability certificates world-wide including rain forest alliance, the first palm oil company to be certified RSPO and has been awarded as most sustainable producer of palm oil in the world for the last several years by SPOTT.

About Avicanna

Avicanna Inc. is a biotechnology company focused on innovative product development and advanced clinical research in the medical cannabis industry and is currently headquartered in JLABS @ Toronto (Canada). Capitalizing on the progressive development of its proprietary brands Pura Elements™ and Pura Earth™, Avicanna is focused on building an international distribution network through its vertically-integrated business model and strategic licensing models. Utilizing the experience of its senior scientists, executive board, and the support of its clinical and academic partners in the University of Toronto and the University Health Network, Avicanna strives to be at the forefront of advancements in the global medical cannabis industry. Avicanna is focused on providing cannabinoid-based therapies that are both clinically supported and medically-approved.

Forward Looking Statements

This news release contains certain “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities law. Forward-looking information is frequently characterized by words such as “plan”, “continue”, “expect”, “project”, “intend”, “believe”, “anticipate”, “estimate”, “may”, “will”, “potential”, “proposed” and other similar words, or information that certain events or conditions “may” or “will” occur. This information is only a prediction. Various assumptions were used in drawing the conclusions or making the projections contained in the forward-looking information throughout this news release. Forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to: (i) the ability to consummate transactions which are currently in discussions, (ii) the continuation of current climate and weather conditions in Colombia which are optimal for cannabis cultivation, (iii) requirements to obtain additional financing, (iv) timeliness of government approvals for granting of permits and licenses, including licenses to cultivate cannabis, (v) completion of local growing facilities, where applicable, (vi) actual operating performance of the facilities, (vii) regulatory or political change in Colombia, Latin America, or Canada, (viii) competition and other risks affecting Avicanna and Sativa Nativa S.A.S., in particular, and the medical cannabis industry generally. Forward-looking information is based on the opinions and estimates of management at the date the information is made, and is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. Avicanna is under no obligation, and expressly disclaims any intention or obligation, to update or revise any forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as expressly required by applicable law.

SOURCE Avicanna Inc.

For further information: about Avicanna Inc. and Santa Marta Golden Hemp S.A.S., visit www.avicanna.com, call 1-647-243-5283, or email info@avicanna.com

Avicanna Inc. Acquires 60% Stake in Colombian Medical Marijuana Firm Santa Marta Golden Hemp

Avicanna Inc. has acquired a controlling interest in Santa Marta Golden Hemp S.A.S., which has been issued medical cannabis licenses in Colombia.

The Toronto-based Avicanna now has a 60% stake in the firm, with Colombian agricultural company Grupo Daabon maintaining the minority stake. Both Santa Marta Golden Hemp and Grupo Daabon are headquartered in Santa Marta on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

“Daabon has also committed to lead Avicanna’s IPO financing and subscribe for up to 20% of the offering,” said Avicanna in a statement.

“This acquisition represents a significant milestone for the cannabis industry, being the first in which a major multinational agricultural corporation has taken a position in a joint venture of this nature,” added the firm.

“Daabon and Avicanna will be combining resources and expertise including Avicanna’s leadership in research and biotechnological developments in the cannabinoid sector and Daabon’s global leadership within the agricultural industry of industrial scale organic cultivation, processing and distribution.”

Today’s Top Marijuana Stock News: Surterra’s $65M Raise, GTI’s CEO Departure, Avicanna And Daabon

A Capital Raise

Surterra Wellness closed a $65 million round of Series C fundraising to bring the firm’s total capital raised above $100 million. Management will apply the funds toward strategic initiatives in Florida and Texas, including construction of a cultivation space, partnership pursuits and clinical trials for cannabis-based therapies.

Surterra also added to the board Beau Wrigley Jr., current president of Wychwood Asset Management and former head of Wrigley Company.

“We believe in the ability of cannabis to improve quality of life for patients across the country, and we are excited to build a global industry leader for the long term,” Wrigley said in a statement. He led the recent funding round.

A Deal

Benzinga learned about a new multimillion-dollar deal in Colombia: Avicanna Inc. and El Grupo Daabon have entered into joint venture to cultivate and process cannabis.

An Executive Departure

Green Thumb Industries Inc (CNSX: GTII)GTBIF 2.83% CEO Peter Kadens will hand over the reins to Ben Kovler, the firm’s founder and chairman, Aug. 29.

“Pete now plans to step back from his day-to-day responsibilities as CEO to concentrate on his true passion – philanthropy and social justice for the communities that have been impacted by the war on drugs,” Kovler said in a statement.

Kadens, who stepped down for personal and family reasons, will stay on as a board member.

Daabon Strikes Deal With Avicanna, Becoming The Largest Agro Company To Enter The Cannabis Industry

A few months ago, Benzinga visited several countries in South America and subsequently published an article explaining why cannabis investors’ interest in the region, especially in Colombia, was about to spike.

In the weeks that followed, numerous U.S. and Canada-based marijuana companies announced deals to enter the Colombian market, with Aphria Inc APHQF spending almost $200 million and Canopy Growth Corp CGC 11.6% dropping close to $100 million.

On Monday, Benzinga learned about a new multimillion-dollar deal in Colombia: Avicanna Inc.,the first and only cannabidiol company to be accepted into Johnson & Johnson JNJ 0.64%’s JLABS @ Toronto, and El Grupo Daabon, the largest organic agriculture company in South America, in operation for more than 100 years, have entered into joint venture to cultivate and process cannabis.

Per the agreement, Avicanna acquired a 60-percent controlling stake in the Colombian entity Santa Marta Golden Hemp S.A.S., holder of “a full suite of medical cannabis licenses in Colombia.” In exchange, Avicanna granted Daabon 1,477,818 common shares, providing it with an 11.2-percent interest in the Canada-based company.

The Details

Santa Marta Golden Hemp’s licensed facility is situated on a 16-hectare parcel of land on the Caribbean coast near the city of Santa Marta. Avicanna says the deal  allows them to expand up to 15,000 hectares.

“Grupo Daabon and Avicanna will be combining resources and expertise including Avicanna’s leadership in research and biotechnological developments in the cannabinoid sector and Daabon’s global leadership within the agricultural industry of industrial scale organic cultivation, processing and distribution,” said Avicanna CEO Aras Azadian.

The partnership combines a leading Canadian biotech working in cannabinoid research and product development with the world’s largest organic agricultural enterprise, said Lucas Nosiglia, executive vice president of Avicanna and president of Avicanna LATAM.

Grupo Daabon is a family-owned business founded in 1914. The company has said it generates billions in revenue each year. With more than 3,000 employees and operations across four continents, Daabon is the largest organic agriculture company in South America.

Avicanna said the partnership with Daabon provides it with:

  • Access to a sustainable, and environmentally responsible agricultural business and expertise with over 15,000 hectares certified for organic cultivation.
  • The potential for the development of an industrial-scale extraction plant in line with Daabon’s current palm oil processing plant, which has the largest capacity in the Americas.
  • Enhanced infrastructure, and access to duty-free zones controlled by Daabon.

Disclosure: Avicanna is a sponsor of Benzinga’s upcoming Cannabis Capital Conference.

Photo of Avicanna LATAM’s Colombian facility by Javier Hasse.

A Biotech Exec Turned Cannabis Entrepreneur Predicts A “Separation” Of Medical And Recreational Cannabis Companies

Cannabis investors can’t afford to miss the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, a premier gathering of investors and entrepreneurs painting an honest picture of the opportunities and challenges in cannabis investing. Space is limited—get your tickets before they sell out.

Ahead of the conference, we’re interviewing the speakers who will deliver key insights on the cannabis space at the BZ Cannabis Capital Conference. This installment features Avicanna CEO Aras Azadian.

Quickly give us your background—why are you passionate about cannabis?
I have been working as a biotech executive for the last 8 years and was fascinated by the medical aspects of cannabis and its potential efficacy in a range of medical indications. I believe we are just starting to scratch the surface on the potential role of cannabinoids as medicine and our team is motivated to be a contributing factor in its discovery.

What is the most exciting opportunity in the cannabis space right now
Medical and healthcare applications! Being a Canadian biotechnology company allows us to do federally approved clinical studies that allows to develop more optimized and consistent products with respect to specific indications whether that is dermatology or pain management.

There are still massive challenges for the nascent cannabis space to overcome—what is the most pressing of those challenges?
Convincing the medical community that for particular indications cannabinoid medication should be the first treatment option, that will only take place once the appropriate data and evidence is present

How should the industry advocate for a cannabis regulatory framework that will allow for safe, sustainable growth?
Within countries that allow clinical development such as Canada, further support and more clear legislation that allows for comprehensive clinical studies. From a recreational perspective, appropriate dosing limitations and warning for products such as the ingestible products

What big surprises do you predict occurring in cannabis in the next three years? Will a big legacy tobacco or alcohol incumbent invest in the space, or something else remarkable?
As the industry matures we will see further separation between recreational and medical companies, I believe that we will start seeing other life sciences and pharmaceutical giants taking larger leaps into the space, which will include big pharma, cosmetic giants and other life-sciences companies.

Any other thoughts?
We are truly living in exciting times and in perhaps the most exciting industry of this century, we are looking forward to being in the future of this industry and contributing to its maturity

Should you prescribe cannabis?

As a pain specialist, I’m asked for cannabis every day, which has forced me to learn all I can about this drug. As a result, I’m able to help my patients benefit from cannabis and reduce its risks. I believe all physicians have a duty to do the same.

The lack of science and evidence around cannabis is very real, and very important to point out. With legalization, we’re clearly heading into murky waters — but let’s realize we’re here because 75 percent of our population has said cannabis should be de-criminalized and should be a medicine.It’s not fair for us to bury our heads in the sand and refuse to prescribe it
or even discuss it with patients.

Over eight years ago, a patient of mine had a skiing accident. She had been on opioids and anti-depressants for persistent neuropathic pain, until she discovered cannabis — without the help of physicians. She confided in me that two to three puffs of a joint morning, noon and night controlled her pain without severe side effects. This became the sole ‘medication’ she relied upon to enable functioning in her daily life.

There’s nothing surprising here. Pain is a condition which results in a hyper-excitable nervous system: your nerves have gone haywire; they’re firing constantly. None of the medications in this space — such as opioids or anti-inflammatories — do a great job of calming that nervous system, but cannabis certainly is a medication that globally reduces CNS hyper-excitability. But people need to understand the dosing: the analgesic effects typically occur with just two or three puffs.

And that lack of understanding — or the refusal by too many physicians to educate themselves — is a big part of the reason cannabis has a bad name. Given that many doctors are even less educated than some of our patients regarding the cannabis industry and the rudimentary science to date, our misconceptions about its dangers often lead them to send patients down the wrong path. How does that square with the Hippocratic Oath?

For example, many physicians who are anti-smoking send patients to the oils (the most profitable cannabis sector). But it can be harder to get a standardized experience with oils because some companies’ oils are de-carboxylated to a greater degree than others and not consistent. Each lot could be completely different from a physiological standpoint. Furthermore, some physicians will tell pain patients only to use the non-psychotropic CBD in oil form. But that can cost anywhere from $120 to $160 for a bottle, and they may eventually need several bottles per month. And despite all of that money, many of my neuropathic pain patients often tell me that they’re not getting much effect from CBD alone.

I do tend to direct my patients initially towards vaporizing instead of smoking or oils. We know it works, and we’ll know more about the safety profile of vaping over the next few years — but for now, it does seem like a better choice than smoking. Over time the oils will become more reliable as the industry and the science matures. I also tell naive patients to start with a product containing less than 10 per cent of THC. So many middle-aged people walk into a dispensary because they want to treat a pain condition and pick up a product that’s 26 per cent THC. Then they get uncomfortably high because when they were teenagers they smoked pot that likely contained around four per cent THC.

Currently, I absolutely steer patients away from edibles. Someone can take an edible and within ten minutes they feel nothing so they take another and another. Forty minutes later, when the high hits them like a ton of bricks, they could be driving on the highway. Let’s avoid setting patients up for failure: Start with what we know and where we have credible scientific data to date, which is in the inhalational dosage form. That’s what people have been consuming for centuries. I understand the distrust around cannabis. We have put a medical lens around a recreational drug, and it’s often an awkward fit. And we have moved too fast to create an industry, unfortunately run by venture capitalists. But the science will catch up. And in the meantime, we have millions of people who are going to be using cannabis whether we like it or not.

As doctors, we like to be right all of the time. We always must stand behind on evidence and science. But despite the lack of answers, this drug has been thrust into our wheel house. So let’s do right by our patients and make every effort to educate ourselves about it — and talk to our patients about it in useful, non-judgemental ways. •

Dr. Clarke is a professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Medical Director of the Pain Research Unit and Transitional Pain Service at Toronto General Hospital. He has consulted with Scientus Pharma and Avicanna Inc. to research and development companies within the medical cannabis industry.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][tm_image image=”4789″][tm_spacer size=”xs:5;sm:5;md:5;lg:25″][vc_column_text]The majority of my patients asking for cannabis are trying to treat anxiety, depression or insomnia. That’s why I won’t prescribe it — I won’t be a party to self-medicating with unregulated, understudied drugs. Not when there are effective, evidence-based treatments for all of these complaints.

Putting the word “medical” in front of marijuana doesn’t make it so. In the Wild West that is the prescription pot landscape right now, a doctor’s signature doesn’t confer legitimacy. We don’t know the intended effect, the right dose, what strain of cannabis to use for which condition, the contraindications or the side effect profile. All we have are some anecdotal reports from people who found personal benefit from using pot.

Not to mention a lot of people’s conceptions of marijuana are based on their own recreational use as teenagers, when it was a pretty benign substance. Nowadays, it’s much more psychotropic, and we don’t know if it could contribute to the onset of schizophrenia, exacerbation of anxiety or onset of depression.

If someone is in pain, I’ll offer the traditional treatments because these are backed by evidence and we know their risks and benefits. Sure, there’s a case for cannabis as an alternative to opioids for a minority of chronic pain sufferers and a few other exceptions. But in my internal medicine practice, I’ve found the vast majority pushing for pot need something else entirely.

And that’s where the problem comes in. Most physicians have heavy caseloads and busy waiting rooms. We don’t always have enough time
to dig deeper, to find out why a patient is suddenly not sleeping well, or to get them to open up about a lifetime of social anxiety. And our current OHIP funding structure doesn’t encourage much psycho-social counselling in the ambulatory environment.

Still, with a little dialogue, I quickly find that psychological counselling using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or support for the underlying root problem is what my patients really need. Not everyone is happy to hear that message, which makes me the bad guy when I have to say no. Talk therapy works, but it’s a whole lot less pleasant than getting high.

Then there are the people who want to legitimize their recreational use and get their prescriptions paid by supplemental insurance. It’s a lot like needing two glasses of scotch at the end of the day to unwind — if you got your scotch for free. Are those the patients we want filling up doctors’ offices?

I’m not taking a stand on whether cannabis should be legal for recreational use. But because of the lack of evidence around its risks and benefits, it doesn’t fit into the medical model. Just like physicians shouldn’t be forced to write sick notes for employers, and we aren’t in the business of doling out doses of scotch, we shouldn’t be forced to confer fake legitimacy on marijuana as a medical treatment. Until there’s enough credible evidence that cannabis is medicine, and as long as I have other good options, I won’t be prescribing it. •

Dr. Bonta is a Clinician Educator in the Department of Medicine and a specialist in General Internal Medicine at Toronto General Hospital.

Avicanna Inc. Proudly Hosts the “International Symposium on Cannabinoids & Medical Applications”

TORONTOMay 18, 2018 /PRNewswire/ – Avicanna Inc., (“Avicanna”) a Canadian biotechnology company focused on medical applications of cannabinoids, is proud to announce that on May 18, 2018, it will be hosting the “International Symposium on Cannabinoids and Medical Applications” in conjunction with the University of Magdalena (the “Symposium”). At the Symposium, guests will hear experienced Canadian, Colombian and other international healthcare professionals and scientists lead discussions on cannabinoid research, patient responses to cannabis treatment, advanced indication-specific medical applications, and emerging clinical data in this field.

 

Avicanna’s goal of the Symposium is to increase awareness of the current research being conducted on the medical benefits of cannabis and to foster meaningful clinical partnerships between leading Colombian and Canadian medical institutions and clinicians to advance medical cannabis research. Avicanna also hopes that the Symposium will assist in further educating the Colombian healthcare community on the evolving treatment possibilities of medical cannabis. Research is beginning to unveil that medical cannabis is potentially an effective treatment option for several major medical specialties such as pain management, oncology, neurology and dermatology.

“We strive to share with the Colombian people, and the Colombian healthcare community, the knowledge, experience and technologies that we have developed over the previous years through our own research efforts and through the efforts of the Canadian cannabis industry as a whole.”
Aras Azadian, CEO of Avicanna.

Discussions will be led by international clinicians and scientists from prestigious academic and clinical research organizations including the University of Toronto (“UofT”), the University Health Network (“UHN”), the Toronto General Hospital (“TGH”), the Princess Margaret Cancer Center (“Princess Margaret”), the Hospital for Sick Children (“SickKids”), San Jose Hospital, Bogota and the University of the West IndiesJamaica.

The topics of discussion will include:

  • Introduction to Cannabinoids – Samantha Watt, MSc. (Avicanna)
  • Pharmacology of Cannabinoids – Dr. Adriana Carrillo, MD., MSc. (Avicanna)
  • Smoke, Mirrors and the Medicine in Medicinal Cannabis – Dr. Lakshmi Kotra, PhD. (UHN)
  • Canadian Patient Experience with Medical Cannabis – Dr. Nimish Purohit, MBBS, DPM MRCPsych (Entourage Clinic)
  • Cannabinoid Delivery Mechanisms and Formulations – Dr. Satish Asotra, PhD MBA (Avicanna)
  • Advanced Formulation and Administration of Cannabinoids – Dr. Frantz Le Dévédec, PhD (UofT)
  • Use of cannabinoids in palliative care – Tatiana Gonzalez (Univesidad del Magdalena)
  • Cannabis Industrial Development in Colombia and its Health Applications – Dr. Andrés López (National Narcotic Fund, Colombia)
  • Role of Cannabinoids in Pain Management – Dr. Hance Clarke MD, PhD. (TGH)
  • Epilepsy and Cannabidiol – Dr. Amza Ali, PhD MBA (Carribean Epilepsy Society)
  • Cannabis and Cancer Care: Current and Emerging Therapies – Dr. Justin Grant, PhD MBA (Princess Margaret)
  • Potential Role of Cannabidiol in Promoting Wound Healing in Patients with Epidermolysis Bullosa – Dr. Elena Pope MR, MSc, FRCPC (SickKids )
  • Acne and Cannabidiol Dr. Irene Lara-Corrales MD (SickKids)
  • Cannabinoids and Eczema – Dr. Mauricio Torres-Pradilla, PhD (Hospital de San Jose, F.U.C.S.)
  • Cannabidiol and Animal Health – Dr. Saeid Babaei, PhD MBA (AbCelex Technologies)
  • Medicinal Cannabis Use: Moving Towards a New Drug Policy – Juan Manuel Galán, Senator of Colombia

About Avicanna:
Avicanna Inc. is a biotechnology company focused on innovative product development and advanced clinical research in the medical cannabis industry and is currently headquartered in JLABS @ Toronto (Canada). Capitalizing on the progressive development of its proprietary brand Pura Elements™, Avicanna is focused on building an international distribution network through the use of strategic licensing models. Utilizing the experience of its senior scientists and executive board, and the support of its clinical and academic partners in the University of Toronto and the University Health Network, Avicanna strives to be at the forefront of advancements in the global medical cannabis industry. Avicanna is focused on providing cannabinoid-based therapies that are both clinically supported and medically approved. Though based in Toronto, Avicanna has a strong presence in the Republic of Colombia through its majority owned subsidiary Sativa Nativa S.A.S. Sativa Nativa currently holds federally issued licenses to cultivate both psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabis in Colombia.

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For more information about Avicanna Inc., visit www.avicanna.com, or email info@avicanna.com.

Forward-Looking Information
This news release contains certain “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities law. Forward-looking information is frequently characterized by words such as “plan”, “continue”, “expect”, “project”, “intend”, “believe”, “anticipate”, “estimate”, “may”, “will”, “potential”, “proposed” and other similar words, or information that certain events or conditions “may” or “will” occur. This information is only a prediction. Various assumptions were used in drawing the conclusions or making the projections contained in the forward-looking information throughout this news release. Forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to: (i) the ability to consummate transactions which are currently in discussions, (ii) requirements to obtain additional financing, (iii) potential effective indication specific treatment benefits of medical cannabis (iv) regulatory or political change in ColombiaLatin AmericaUnited States of America or Canada, (v) competition and other risks affecting Avicanna, in particular, and the medical cannabis industry generally. Forward-looking information is based on the opinions and estimates of management at the date the information is made, and is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. Avicanna is under no obligation, and expressly disclaims any intention or obligation, to update or revise any forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as expressly required by applicable law.

Avicanna Inc. Announces its Subsidiary Has Obtained Medical Cannabis Licenses in Colombia

TORONTO, Feb. 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ – Avicanna Inc. (“Avicanna“) is pleased to announce that its Colombian subsidiary Sativa Nativa S.A.S. (“Sativa Nativa“) has been issued a psychoactive cannabis Cultivation license and a cannabis Derivatives Processing and Manufacturing license (collectively the “Licenses“) by the Colombian Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Health.

Sativa Nativa, located in Santa Marta, Colombia, is positioning itself to become a leader in the Latin American medical cannabis industry. Santa Marta offers an ideal location to cultivate cannabis due to its tropical climate complete with year-round 12 hour days of sunlight. These weather conditions can lead to significant cost advantages compared with cannabis grown in less hospitable climates such as Canada or Europe. With a team of cultivation and genetic specialists, including its founders Sergio Puerta and Jose Rafael Lopez, Sativa Nativa is in a strong position to excel in the Latin American cannabis industry. Leveraging the support of Avicanna’s senior scientific and executive teams, Sativa Nativa will have access to strategic know-how and proprietary advancements applicable to all phases of the cannabis growing process, including cultivation, analysis, extraction, and manufacturing. Avicanna will also aim to implement industry best practices while maintaining Good Manufacturing Practices (“GMP”) and Standard Operating Procedures (“SOP”) at Sativa Nativa’s facilities in Colombia. In addition, Sativa Nativa has been granted an exclusive license to produce, manufacture and distribute Avicanna’s proprietary brand of Pura Elements™ products within Colombia. As an Avicanna subsidiary, Sativa Nativa also has access to export opportunities through Avicanna’s global distribution network.

With over 30 years of combined experience in commercial scale cultivation and genetic development, Sativa Nativa’s founders provide a rare level of sophistication and experience in the emergent cannabis industry.

“Our sustainable cultivation practices focus on the biodynamic and organic production of cannabis, and working with the Avicanna team, we will focus on compliance with the highest global standards in each stage of production. We look forward to offering advanced medical cannabis solutions to the Colombian medical community.”

– Sergio Puerta, Chief Horticulture Officer, Sativa Nativa S.A.S.

As part of Avicanna’s international and vertically integrated business model, Sativa Nativa provides Avicanna with significant potential opportunities, including supply of high quality active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), distribution in the Colombian market, proximity to other Latin American markets, and access to a diverse portfolio of cannabis genetics.

“We are delighted by this endorsement of the Colombia health authorities of Sativa Nativa’s capabilities in cannabis cultivations and processing. By combining Avicanna’s intellectual property and strategic capabilities, including clinical testing expertise, together with the experience of the Sativa Nativa team, we are poised to be leaders and innovators in the medical cannabis industry –both in Colombia and the Latin American region as a whole.”

– Aras Azadian, Chief Executive Officer, Avicanna Inc.

About Avicanna
Avicanna Inc. is a biotechnology company focused on innovative product development and advanced clinical research in the medical cannabis industry and is currently headquartered in JLABS @ Toronto (Canada). Capitalizing on the progressive development of its proprietary brand Pura Elements™, Avicanna is focused on building an international distribution network through the use of strategic licensing models. Utilizing the experience of its senior scientists and executive board, and the support of its clinical and academic partners in the University of Toronto and the University Health Network, Avicanna strives to be at the forefront of advancements in the global medical cannabis industry. Avicanna is focused on providing cannabinoid-based therapies that are both clinically supported and medically-approved.

About Sativa Nativa
Sativa Nativa is a vertically integrated medical cannabis company based out of Santa Marta, Colombia. As a partially-owned subsidiary of Avicanna, Sativa Nativa leverages Avicanna’s scientific and executive teams to operate at the highest global standards in each of its operational stages; from genetic development, to cultivation, to processing to final medical products. Utilizing cost and climate competitive advantages, Sativa Nativa’s experienced cultivation team is focused on large-scale production of greenhouse cannabis for local and international distribution in addition to offering a range of advanced cannabinoid products. Additionally, Sativa Nativa will be offering the Pura ElementsTM line of products to the local Colombian medical cannabis community.

Forward-Looking Information
This news release contains certain “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities law. Forward-looking information is frequently characterized by words such as “plan”, “continue”, “expect”, “project”, “intend”, “believe”, “anticipate”, “estimate”, “may”, “will”, “potential”, “proposed” and other similar words, or information that certain events or conditions “may” or “will” occur. This information is only a prediction. Various assumptions were used in drawing the conclusions or making the projections contained in the forward-looking information throughout this news release. Forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to: (i) the ability to consummate transactions which are currently in discussions, (ii) the continuation of current climate and weather conditions in Colombia which are optimal for cannabis cultivation, (iii) requirements to obtain additional financing, (iv) timeliness of government approvals for granting of permits and licenses, including licenses to cultivate cannabis, (v) completion of local growing facilities, where applicable, (vi) actual operating performance of the facilities, (vii) regulatory or political change in Colombia, Latin America, or Canada, (viii) competition and other risks affecting Avicanna and Sativa Nativa S.A.S., in particular, and the medical cannabis industry generally. Forward-looking information is based on the opinions and estimates of management at the date the information is made, and is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. Avicanna is under no obligation, and expressly disclaims any intention or obligation, to update or revise any forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as expressly required by applicable law.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]