Flowr Corporation’s CEO has commented that the company’s strategy in Portugal is paying dividends after improvements to operational expertise.
Holigen Holdings Limited in Portugal is expecting to harvest at least 300kg of indoor-grown medical cannabis in the first quarter of 2022. The company is the wholly-owned subsidiary of Canada-based The Flowr Corporation.
According to Flowr, Holigen is in the final stages of cultivating its strains BC Black Cherry and BC Strawnana, which have THC content levels above 29 per cent. The company expects to commence harvesting at its purpose-built indoor facility in Sintra, Portugal by the end of January 2022.
The Flowr Corporation CEO, Darryl Brooker, commented: “Our strategy in Portugal is appearing to pay dividends. We have worked very hard to improve the operational expertise at our indoor facility in Sintra and we are now seeing the results.
“The EU market is starved for premium medical cannabis and our team in Portugal, led by Tom Flow, is on the cusp of achieving a significant operational milestone for the company.
“We are very much looking forward to the near-term results in Portugal and see the EU as an under-valued and under-appreciated part of our business.”
The Flowr Corporation also announced it has completed its first shipment from Canada to Israel, consisting of premium cannabis across two strains for a total of (CAD)$825,000 (~£481,405), as part of a recent supply agreement.
The shipment is the company’s first into the Israeli market and the first significant international export, with additional exports to Israel expected later this year.
“We are extremely pleased to have completed our first shipment to Israel as part of our partnership with IMC and Focus Medical,” commented Brooker.
“As the Israeli medical cannabis industry continues to grow, we expect the market to be an important destination for us to grow our brand and distribution reach internationally.
“As a result, we view this first shipment and this partnership as an important next step to becoming a significant international producer of cannabis with a globally recognised brand.”
The shipment of cannabis was from Flowr’s K1 facility located in Kelowna, British Columbia.
The second shipment to the Israeli market is expected in the first half of 2022.
New research could help cultivators control THC and CBD levels in crops
A team of researchers has used firefly genes to understand cannabis biology.
A better understanding of how cannabis produces THC means scientists could selectively knock out the enzyme that synthesises THC using genome editing techniques such as CRISPR. This would produce plants with lower levels of, or no levels of, THC.
With strict regulations surrounding the levels of CBD and THC in cultivated cannabis, controlling these levels is vital to prevent destruction of crops and lost licences, for example.
Cannabinoids are produced by trichomes, the small, spikey and sticky protrusions on the surface of cannabis flowers, however, scientists know very little about how cannabinoid biosynthesis is controlled.
To discover the underlying molecular mechanisms behind trichrome development and cannabinoid synthesis, Yi Ma, research assistant professor, and Gerry Berkowitz, professor in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources received funding through the National Research Initiative from the US Department of Agriculture.
The research has been published in the journal Plants.
Berkowitz and Ma, and former graduate students Samuel Haiden and Peter Apicella, have discovered transcription factors responsible for trichome initiation and cannabinoid biosynthesis.
Transcription factors are molecules that determine if a piece of an organism’s DNA will be transcribed into RNA, and thus expressed. In this case, the transcription factors cause epidermal cells on the flowers to morph into trichomes.
With this new grant, the researchers will continue to explore how these transcription factors play a role in trichome development during flower maturation.
Berkowitz and Ma will clone the promoters – the part of DNA that transcription factors bind to – of interest, and will then put the promoters into the cells of a model plant along with a copy of the gene that makes fireflies light up, known as firefly luciferase; the luciferase is fused to the cannabis promoter so if the promoter is activated by a signal, the luciferase reporter will generate light.
Berkowitz commented: “It’s a nifty way to evaluate signals that orchestrate cannabinoid synthesis and trichome development.”
The researchers will load the cloned promoters and luciferase into a plasmid. Plasmids are circular DNA molecules that can replicate independently of the chromosomes. This allows the scientists to express the genes of interest even though they aren’t part of the plant’s genomic DNA. They will deliver these plasmids into the plant leaves or protoplasts, plant cells without the cell wall.
When the promoter controlling luciferase expression comes into contact with the transcription factors responsible for trichome development (or triggered by other signals such as plant hormones), the luciferase ‘reporter’ will produce light.
Ma and Berkowitz will use an instrument called a luminometer, which measures how much light comes from the sample. This will tell the researchers if the promoter regions they are looking at are controlled by transcription factors responsible for increasing trichome development or modulating genes that code for cannabinoid biosynthetic enzymes. They can also learn if the promoters respond to hormonal signals.
In prior work underlying the rationale for this experimental approach, Ma and Berkowitz along with graduate student Peter Apicella found that the enzyme that makes THC in cannabis trichomes may not be the critical limiting step regulating THC production, but rather the generation of the precursor for THC (and CBD) production and the transporter-facilitated shuttling of the precursor to the extracellular bulb might be key determinants in developing cannabis strains with high THC or CBD.
Most cannabis farmers grow hemp, a variety of cannabis with naturally lower THC levels than marijuana. Currently, most hemp varieties that have high CBD levels also contain unacceptably high levels of THC. This is likely because the hemp plants still make the enzyme that produces THC. If the plant contains over 0.3% THC, it is considered federally illegal and, in many cases, must be destroyed.
The researchers said: “We envision that the fundamental knowledge obtained can be translated into novel genetic tools and strategies to improve the cannabinoid profile, aid hemp farmers with the common problem of overproducing THC, and benefit human health.”
This knowledge could lead to the production of cannabis plants that produce more of a desired cannabinoid, making it more valuable and profitable.
As well as sharing these findings with cannabis scientists, industry, and growers, the researchers will incorporate this new knowledge into UConn courses on cannabis horticulture.
This grant will also support the training of undergraduates interested in cannabis research, providing them with the skills to enter the workforce.
Planning application submitted for Isle of Man cannabis facility
The facility will include a science and innovation centre.
Plans to kickstart the medical cannabis industry on the Isle of Man have progressed with the submission of a formal planning application for a cultivation facility on the island.
Earlier this year, Peel NRE proposed to establish a multi-million-pound science innovation and research centre (SIRC), sustainable energy park and medical cannabis facility on the Isle of Man.
The regeneration and clean energy specialist has now applied for planning consent for its proposals for the 72-acre site in between the A6 and A5 on New Castletown Road.
The plan, which represents an investment of over £150m from Peel NRE, would create around 250 jobs across a range of skills from botany and technology to security and exports. More than 178,000 sqft of cannabis cultivation space will be created with around 102,000 sqft for research and development.
Managing director of Peel NRE, part of Peel L&P, Myles Kitcher, said: “This is a game-changing opportunity for the Isle of Man to get ahead in a new and exciting industry that will bring many benefits to the Island and its people and we also hope that it will encourage more renewable projects in the area.
“As expected, our proposals have attracted a lot of attention and, we are pleased to say, significant support from the community during the extensive public consultation. This includes positivity around the emerging industry on the Island, the proposed campus-style development and new educational and career opportunities.
“We will continue to work with the community over the coming weeks and months as the project progresses and will be holding an industry event later in the year for businesses interested in finding out more about available opportunities.”
The proposals (22/00678/B) follow a change in the legislation of cannabis production and exportation on the island. The Isle of Man Government announced in June last year that opening the island up could make it “a world-leading exporter” of cannabis, and establish it as a global destination for science and technological excellence that will contribute to cutting-edge research into cannabinoids for pharmaceutical uses.
It will also set a gold standard for the burgeoning cannabis industry across the world and unlock partnerships in the public and private sectors.
Additionally, the scheme will feature a solar farm to power the site which would be the Island’s only grid-scale renewable project, contributing to the Isle of Man Government’s ambitions on climate change.
Peel NRE launched a public consultation to help shape the plans before the application was submitted to the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture later this year, and has stated that it has had positive feedback from the Isle of Man community.
Isle of Man Minister for Treasury, Dr Alex Allinson MHK, said: “The development of the Island’s medicinal cannabis sector is a key part of the Government’s ambitions to diversify the economy as well as creating a vibrant new sector to attract more investment and skills to the Isle of Man.
“We are looking to create a world-class infrastructure and continue to welcome interest in developing this sector further.”
Speaking to Cannabis Wealth at the time of the proposal’s announcement, Laurence Skelly, President of Tynwald and Minister for Enterprise, commented: “Diversifying the economy is a significant part of the Isle of Man Government’s Island Plan and the development of Medicinal Cannabis for export is one of the key sectors to bring forward this diversification.
“The Island’s Medicinal Cannabis export proposition is to develop high-quality products and attract new investment through utilising the Island’s stellar reputation as a well-regulated jurisdiction.”
MoU to establish medical cannabis production facility
The site will be based in Madrid, Spain.
Kanabo has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for an indoor medical cannabis cultivation project in Spain.
The facility will enable 4,000kg per annum indoor cultivation and processing of cannabis. The facility, which is to be established in Madrid, Spain, will focus exclusively on medical cannabis.
Kanabo Group has formed an Israeli subsidiary company, Kanabo Agritec Ltd. (Agritec), which Kanabo Research Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kanabo Group, holds a 40 per cent shareholding, together with certain additional control rights over the strategic direction of the subsidiary.
Kanabo Agritec will enter into agreements with customers to offer consulting advice and support on cultivation, processing and production of medical cannabis products to organisations and entrepreneurs entering or already active in the cannabis market.
CEO of Kanabo Group, Avihu Tamir, commented: “We are truly excited by today’s announcement. Agritec provides Kanabo Group plc an opportunity to realise the value of our extensive, existing intellectual capital in medical Cannabis cultivation and production, providing near-term consulting revenues.
“Secondly, it provides us a way to diversify, secure and quality control our supply of medical-grade Cannabis that will always meet our exacting standards, avoiding any wasted margin from product that does not meet the grade.
“In short, the new venture provides all the benefits and value of owning the cultivation supply chain, without the Capex and Opex requirement of building a cultivation operation ourselves. Furthermore, Kanabo consumers will be guaranteed a consistent, highest quality supply of medical Cannabis products, at all times.”
CEO of Agritec, Ophir Shimshi, commented: “We are excited to combine Agritec’s team experience with Kanabo’s extensive R&D knowledge and expertise, to bring this powerful, full-service consultancy offering to market.
“Agritec’s clients will benefit from Kanabo’s immensely valuable, tried, tested and proven playbook.
“Our range of consulting services deliver every strategic and operational consideration required by enterprises and entrepreneurs who wish to take advantage of the immense growth opportunities this market has to offer.”
Kanabo has stated that Agritec provides the company with complementary near-term revenue opportunities and will offer Kanabo improved security of cannabis supply through a diverse range of suppliers, who will all adopt Kanabo’s high-quality manufacturing standards without Kanabo having to fund or become directly involved in cannabis cultivation.
Agritec customers will benefit from Kanabo’s services including: procurement, design and build of commercial scale, medical cannabis cultivation facilities; high-quality genetics and standard operating procedures for optimal medical cannabis cultivation; post-harvest services including offtake agreements with Kanabo Group; design and draft reporting and documentation filing services with the local authorities; and, local training and ongoing consulting services.
As per the terms of the MoU, Agritec may elect to receive up to 20 per cent ownership of the project based on the achievement of agreed milestones.
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