VIDEO: Maricann is Expanding Production and Helping Prevent Drug Overdose
Maricann Group Inc. (CNSX:MARI) (OTCMKTS:MRRCF) (FRA:75M) is medical cannabis company that serves thousands of patients. CEO & Director Ben Ward talks to James about the massive expansion of their hybrid growing facility in Ontario, as well as what sets them apart from competition—like their vesisorb drug delivery technology, which allows cannabis to be absorbed more quickly and helps prevent overdose.
James West: Ben, thanks for joining me today.
Ben Ward: Thanks so much for having me, James.
James West: Ben, tell me about Maricann: what’s the footprint, how much marijuana do you produce, how many patients do you have?
Ben Ward: The footprint, we currently operate in 44,000 square feet of retrofitted tobacco greenhouses, and we produce around 2,200 kilos in that limited footprint right now. We were the 14th license issued in the country out of thousands of applicants, based in Langton, Ontario, about two hours southwest of Toronto, and we’ve undergone an expansion which the first planting will go in on March 23rd, following inspection. And from that point in time, we’ll be able to produce 22,500 kilos in that first phase of expansion. We’re fully funded up to 942,000 square feet; that’ll be done by the end of this year. So, starting calendar year 2019, we’ll have 95,000 kg of annual production of dried flower.
James West: Okay. So is the ratio then about 100g per square foot, is that how it works?
Ben Ward: Yeah, we forecast 110.
James West: A hundred and ten. So I’ve talked to a lot of cannabis CEOs, and if they grow in enclosed spaces, that’s the only way to grow, and everything greenhouse is no good. And if they grow in greenhouses, sun-grown is the only way to go and enclosed is no good. What’s your experience in terms of the quality of the product?
Ben Ward: We actually put together a hybrid. So we have a sealed facility that has a glass roof. It’s a diffuse glass glass roof; R-38 building envelope, 92.5 percent energy efficient. So we took the best of both worlds: we take the best of what Mother Nature has to offer, giving us an opportunity to take the sunlight to keep the plants’ circadian rhythm, more lumens, natural light; then we provide supplemental lighting with different lighting sources, but we take the best of indoor growing and control that’s able to be produced. So we do the hybrid.
James West: Okay. What would you say about Maricann that differentiates it from other ACMPR grower?
Ben Ward: From a cultivation perspective, I think it’s a prerequisite that you have to be able to grow, and you have to be able to grow at a low cost. So our all-in production costs will be $1.34 per gram at our new production facility.
But cultivating is one thing; everybody has to be able to do that. The real differentiation that we have is our ability to fractionate the plant post-processing after the initial crude extraction, and then our drug delivery technology. Our VesiSorb drug delivery technology is used in 40 percent of the world’s fat-soluble drugs, or lipophilic drugs. It’s globally patented, it was developed in Switzerland, and it’s used by major pharmaceutical companies for their products. We took the best of what the pharma world had to offer, brought it to cannabis, and it essentially solves the problem of oil and water. In cannabis, when you ingest it, it takes 45 minutes to an hour and a half to onset, because it has to be metabolized in the liver. This creates a problem, because people don’t feel any effect, and then they overdose, they talk more. We’ve all heard this story of somebody eating too many brownies and sleeping for a couple of days –
James West: Oh yeah.
Ben Ward: I’ve been there myself, my dog looking at me in the morning. So this solves that problem, because you have rapid onset between 5 to 15 minutes, because the oil disperses in water; it can be absorbed in your stomach and your intestinal lining. Our bodies are aqueous environments. So we’ve solved the problem. You don’t need slow release cannabis technology; cannabis is, by nature, slow release. What you need is a rapid onset.
So we’re able to deliver six to seven times the cannabinoids to the patient for their bloodstream for a consistency, more therapeutic effect. Physicians are more comfortable with it. So that application to the pharmaceutical market, but also to the recreational market; it’s the solution for oil and water, doesn’t slick to the top, so in beverages it’s been shown to suspend in water for three years, shelf-stable.
James West: Interesting, so where can you sell CBD products in the world right now, and does Maricann have a view towards exporting CBD products and THC products as legislation sort of filters through the various jurisdictions?
Ben Ward: Yeah. We have agreements in place to export product to Germany. We’ve had a GMP inspection on our site by the federal employees there in Canada, on December 14th and 15th; certification is pending any day.
James West: GMP certification on your growing?
Ben Ward: On our existing operation; our new operation will be GMP certified as well, and then from that point, we’ll be able to export flower to Germany. You have to be GMP certified to have your product accepted into that environment.
James West: I see.
Ben Ward: So we’ll be growing, our plan is to, we’ve been preserving product for export for those agreements, reserving it for the first quarter of this year. We’re on track.
For the CBD perspective, CBD can be gained from industrial hemp; it can be processed, so we’re moving ahead with 600 hectares in Germany and the Czech Republic. We’ll be taking that to our central facility in Germany in Dresden and we have an API facility there to make our active pharmaceutical ingredients, to fractionate all of the different cannabinoids, and then we’ll use those to be put into our different products. They can be used as global API.
James West: When you say API, what does that stand for?
Ben Ward: Active pharmaceutical ingredients. So, taking basically each cannabinoid, taking THC, CBD, CBN, CBG or others; also taking the terpenoid or flavonoid content from the beginning and then combining that back together, because in the female cannabis plant, you have all of the terpenoids and flavonoids that make the cannabinoids onset be absorbed; it gives you the entourage effect. So we take those components from the female cannabis plant, combine them with a fractionated cannabinoid CBD, CBG or CBN from the hemp plant, it’s ultra-low cost; and then we combine them together to give the patient the same experience they’d have with a regular female cannabis plant that’s been grown indoors.
So it’s cheaper to grow CBD plants outside; for the valuable real estate we’ve created under glass, we’d prefer to grow THC product.
James West: Right. That’s fascinating. So you said 930,000 square feet?
Ben Ward: 942,000 square feet in Ontario, plus our 44,000 existing, and then in Germany, we’ve been one, with our joint venture partner, of the 10 successful groups through the tender process.
James West: Sure.
Ben Ward: And there’s up to 820,000 square feet in our facility there that we can build out to grow; we’ve already retrofitted 75,000 square feet compliant with their narcotics laws.
James West: Wow. Interesting. Ben, that’s a fascinating update. It’s the first I’ve really paid attention to Maricann, though we did speak on the phone before, but I’m amazed at your progress. Let’s leave it there for now. We’re going to set up a site visit next, and we’ll come out and talk to you then. Thanks for coming in today.
Ben Ward: Absolutely. Thanks so much, James.
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