Kanabo, an Israeli medical cannabis company, became the first firm of its kind to be listed on the London Stock Exchange in February.
Just two days later, shares were up almost 800 per cent.
After launching at 6.5p, they tripled in value on the first day of trading alone, with founder and CEO Avihu Tamir describing the response as ‘overwhelming’.
The news reflects the growing buzz surrounding medical cannabis, and Kanabo in particular, after it created the VapePod – a cannabis vaporiser and formulas specifically designed for medical use.
It’s a long way from Tamir’s first experience of cannabis – being taught to roll a joint by a nurse.
He says: “I never chose cannabis. Cannabis chose me.
“When I was younger, I suffered with migraines, and so my first experience of it was as a patient. You may not know this, but Israel has one of the best medical cannabis programmes in the world, and so my physician asked me if I wanted to try it.
“I agreed, but when it came to taking it, I was a little disturbed because the nurse there recommended that we take a ground flower, roll it and smoke it in a cigarette.
“So, I thought that there must be a better way.”
As Tamir found, while cannabis was being medically prescribed, previously patients would need to smoke flowers, a method which gives a different dose with each inhale.
This proved to be a barrier for many physicians in offering it – unsurprisingly, they are reluctant to advocate smoking as a medicinal delivery method, although it has been found that most cannabis users preferred method was inhalation of some type.
Now, for the first time, Kanabo has introduced a device, VapePod, that can deliver a metered dose that works for both the patient and physician.
Tamir explains: “It’s not just simply for the benefit of physicians; there are plenty of people out there who don’t smoke and have no intention of starting. You also have patients who are more reluctant to take pills or capsules – so there was a real gap in the market for a middle ground.
“I want cannabis to be accessible to anyone who needs it, and the VapePod is just that; a solution that everyone can feel comfortable with and get the right benefits from as well.”
The next step is to increase awareness, through marketing Kanabo to both physicians and potential patients, to capitalise on the incredible growth seen in the medical marijuana industry over the past few years.
Tamir highlights three key developments that have led to this growth, beginning with the changes in legislation.
“The main change has been what has happened with regards to regulation, particularly in Canada and America.
“Across the world, we’ve seen a revolution in the ways cannabis is viewed; it’s no longer an illicit drug, it’s a medicine and a consumer product.
“The second follows on from this, in the way that CBD has become part of the wellness movement; CBD in this respect is a very easy entry for people who do not want the psychoactive compound – it’s very easy to consume.
“Thirdly, we’re seeing some big players in the industry becoming involved. An amazing legitimate product being developed by big players from the industry. I would say it is a public market. Once you have public companies that are legitimising the discussion around cannabis, and creating more opportunities to raise money and invest, it removes that stigma that has traditionally been associated with cannabis.”
Tamir points to the recent deal between British American Tobacco and Canada-based cannabis producer Organigram for about £126m as evidence of how mainstream the cannabis market is becoming.
For Kanabo, floating on the stock exchange is just the beginning – and Tamir sees exciting developments on the horizon both for his firm and the industry as a whole.
He explains: “I think two things will happen in future.
“Firstly, the CBD market will evolve beyond North America – 90 per cent of CBD sales happen in Canada and the United States. I believe Europe will become one of the major players, along with changing regulations increasing take-up in places like South America.
“Secondly, I think there will be changes and discoveries in the science, affecting the end product. In our labs in Israel, we’re looking beyond just CBD and THC to the more minor cannabinoids, and they are amazing and have such potential to help people.”
Key to the industry’s continuing success, he says, is collaboration – a need borne out partly due to the restrictions that still govern the licensing and sale of CBD.
“Collaboration is built into the industry. Take the United States; if you want to build a company that is operating in more than one state, you need to have another company as you can’t ship cannabis between states, therefore you need to have separate companies, and productions in each state working in silos.
“So, there needs to be this level of cooperation between companies specialising in different fields, working together on this one common purpose.”
And Kanabo are in it for the long haul, working to build a network around the world.
As Tamir explains: “It’s definitely about building those long-term relationships, and I’m planting seeds that will flourish in the future.
“Some of my best partners today are companies or people that I met many years ago, with discussions that don’t necessarily relate to business support, and they became my main clients or suppliers.
“It’s about getting to know people personally; ultimately as time goes on, those relationships can flourish in two different ways, and maybe we’ll work together, maybe we won’t – but we still have a relationship.
“As an entrepreneur, it’s always a roller coaster going up and down – even looking at the more famous examples, such as Steve Jobs.
“It takes a lot of time to build a huge company, which is why you need to build those relationships right from the start.”
Cannaray: “We aim to become the leading medical cannabis player in Europe”
Cannaray recently closed a £10 million funding round to expand its medical cannabis arm.
Cannabis Wealth caught up with Cannaray CEO Scott Macguire to hear about the company’s plans to expand its medical cannabis division following a £10 million funding round earlier this year.
In April this year, Cannaray closed a £10 million funding round that included a significant investment from Channel 4 Ventures. Cannaray believes the investment was a first of its kind in Europe for a major TV broadcaster.
“We were delighted to close on an amount above our initial targets, considering the difficult capital markets,” Cannaray CEO Scott Macguire told Cannabis Wealth.
“It was a great sign of confidence in the company to see existing investors come back in for this round as well as welcoming major new investors such as Channel 4 Ventures. TV advertising has taken Cannaray to new heights, so we’re thrilled to be able to partner with Channel 4 to continue to drive rapid growth of the brand.”
Other participants in the round include Three Bridges Private Capital, Alpha Blue Ocean and a mix of new and follow-on private investors.
Cannaray’s group of companies spans both medical cannabis and CBD wellness brands. Its CBD brand is already well-established in the UK. In the summer of 2021, Cannaray launched the UK’s first major brand campaign for CBD on TV. In addition to a high-performing B2C site, the brand is also stocked on Amazon and in over 1500 retail outlets across the UK including Tesco, Superdrug, ASDA, Waitrose and Harrods.
Now, the company is turning its focus to medical cannabis. The majority of the recent raise will be channelled into Cannaray’s medical division Therismos as it seeks to scale and expand its footprint in Germany and the UK.
“Our aim is to become the leading medical cannabis player in Europe,” Macguire said. “We have significantly strengthened our position over the last year to cover supply, distribution and prescription of cannabis-based medical products (CBMP) across Europe.”
In Germany, Cannaray recently embarked on a “transformational” partnership with Alliance Healthcare Deutschland – a division of Walgreens Boots Alliance – to help establish the brand’s presence in the German market.
The German federal government announced it would be putting plans in motion to legalise adult-use cannabis in November 2021. After a number of delays, Germany’s health minister Karl Lauterbach announced that the legal process for cannabis legalisation would begin this summer.
“[Germany] is the largest CBMP market in Europe and where AHG has a significant footprint,” Macguire added.
“Our medical cannabis division Therismos will be activating the partnership with AHG with the aim of becoming one of the leading providers of CBPM in a market growing at 13 per cent year-on-year.
“Our pipeline plans include product innovation, new presentations [and] galenic forms and novel technologies that will step change a market that is in its creation phase.”
Cannaray is also looking to tap into the medical cannabis sector in the UK. While only 30,000 patients have access to a medical cannabis prescription currently, there is huge potential for growth with an estimated 1.4 million people self-medicating with illicit cannabis, according to YouGov statistics.
The firm will soon be opening a medical cannabis clinic with the help of leading pain specialists in the UK.
“The UK is our second priority since this market represents the greatest growth opportunity in Europe,” Macguire said. “The UK is a small market relative to Germany and even smaller still when compared to North America.
“The prevailing challenge in the UK is the cost of the medication, as the NHS does not cover the cost of the medication. Estimates put the cost per patient per year at over £3,500. There will be a cap on the growth of CBPM in the UK until the NHS covers the cost and GPs are allowed to prescribe.
Macguire said Cannaray is now exploring additional acquisitions in its efforts to position the company as a leader in the European medical cannabis market.
Curaleaf appoints new chief people officer
Tyneeha Rivers will take on the role.
Curaleaf Holdings has appointed Tyneeha Rivers to the role of chief people officer (CPO) – a new position within the company.
Rivers will be taking on the role following the announcement of Matt Darin being named CEO. Darin will be replacing Joe Bayern, who will be launching a new CPG-focused division of the company.
CEO of Curaleaf, Darin, commented: “This is an incredibly exciting time for Tyneeha to join us and I am thrilled to welcome her to my executive leadership team.
“With over twenty years of global Human Resources expertise in senior positions for distinguished organisations, Tyneeha has a proven track record of building winning team cultures that positively impact business results.
“This is a critical focus for us at Curaleaf as we move the company forward. My goal is not only to be the leading global cannabis company, but also the place to be for the most talented, motivated, and passionate team members in the industry, bar none.”
Rivers will lead the Curaleaf’s Human Resources department and help advance strategic HR operations, talent acquisition, talent management, diversity, equity and inclusion, leadership development, training programmes, employee relationship management, compensation and benefits, job design and succession planning.
Rivers stated: “I am honoured to join the Curaleaf team at this exciting time in the company’s evolution and rapid growth.
“Curaleaf has established itself as a leader in the cannabis space, not just in revenue or retail footprint, but in talent and commitment. I look forward to partnering with the entire Curaleaf team to continue focusing on strategic HR operations and the investment in the Company’s people, without whom this exponential growth would not be possible.”
Rivers brings over 20 years of experience in corporate human resources, leading HR for various prominent organisations such as Merrill Lynch, Morgan Properties, The Galman Group, Philadelphia 76ers, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Greater Philadelphia YMCA, and most recently, CPO at Curio Wellness.
Rivers currently serves as board president of Second Chance Mission, an organisation established to help survivors of substance abuse, domestic violence, bullying, life-altering illness and other hardships.
Kendra Mark appointed as director of product at Tenacious Labs
Mark has a passion for health and wellness.
Kendra Mark is joining UK-based CBD company Tenacious Labs as its new director of product.
International consumer products group championing emerging plant-based ingredients, including CBD and Psilocybin, Tenacious Labs, has welcomed Mark to its team.
Mark joins Tenacious Labs with industry-leading expertise in new product development, significant experience in the CBD and hemp sector, and a passion for health and wellness.
COO of Tenacious Labs, Susie MacArthur, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Kendra to the Group. With considerable industry experience, both in senior leadership and new product development roles, her expertise will be invaluable as we look to scale up, launch our brands around the world, and become a leading consumer products group globally.
“We believe this is the start of a really exciting period for Tenacious Labs, and we’re pleased to have Kendra join us on our journey.”
Director of product at Tenacious Labs, Mark, commented: “I am hugely excited to join Tenacious Labs, a Group which I have admired for some time.
“Like me, the team have fantastic ambitions to create an industry-leading Group that harnesses the natural power of CBD and other emerging ingredients. I am looking forward to getting stuck in and doing what I love most: creating natural products that support the day-to-day wellbeing of consumers around the world.”
Mark most recently co-founded natureofthings, a wellness brand focusing on natural ingredients, minerals and elements, including hemp. She has also served as VP of product development at Hemp Depot, a specialist hemp wholesaler, and led 2Rise Naturals, a consumer brand specialising in high-quality CBD.
In her role at Tenacious Labs, Kendra will be responsible for creating unique and differentiated products across the Group’s portfolio of brands, such as Press Pause and HOO RAA.
Mark will also work closely with TL Manufacturing — Tenacious Labs’ wholly-owned production facility based out of Colorado, USA — to launch products in new and emerging categories. This will support the group’s broader strategic goal of becoming a leading consumer products group globally.
Kendra, who is based in Arizona, joins Tenacious Labs’ predominantly female management team, which includes its chief operations officer, Susie MacArthur; chief financial officer, Sally Hayes; and head of lifestyle brands, Dawn Fable, at the start of its next growth phase.
In addition to Mark’s role, the Group is also actively hiring for several new roles as it looks to scale up and launch its brands around the world.