PLANS have been unveiled for a £12m investment to create one of the UK’s largest medicinal cannabis farms – capable of growing 300,000 plants a year.
In a market update, AQSE Growth Market-listed Ananda Developments says it is advanced talks with the Home Office to secure a licence to grow high-THC cannabis in Lincolnshire.
If successful, it hopes to be putting the first plants into the ground next Spring.
Ananda has teamed up with world-renowned Israeli scientist Dr Dedi Meiri, who is currently investigating the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis for treating coronaviruses.
Annual Harvest Of 200 Tonnes
While the UK medicinal cannabis market is stuck in the slow lane, the potential is huge.
Chief Executive Melissa Sturgess told BusinessCann its 300,000 plants will be capable of delivering an annual harvest of 200 tonnes, when at full capacity.
She said: “We will be growing under proven, successful, natural cycles – under poly-tunnel – with no requirement for artificial heat or light. We plan to ramp-up to full capacity over a six-year period.
“As the market slowly opens up, the UK is being seen very much as a premium jurisdiction for medical cannabis.
“We are seen increasing interest from many places, including Israel. A lot of spotlight is on the UK and one of the key attractions is the skills of UK scientists. As a UK-based company we aim to help the industry grow and develop.
“The UK has the science and there are UK doctors wanting to prescribe UK-grown medical cannabis instead of importing – a costly and time-consuming process.
“As we establish a domestic cannabis supply will we then look to the international markets, as we grow.”
World-Leading Cannabis Scientist Joins The Call
Ananda subsidiary Tiamat Agriculture and JEPCO Group – who previously worked with GW Pharmaceuticals – will deliver the project under the joint venture name DJT Plants.
A meeting was held last week between DJT Plants and the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency).
The JV partners were supported in the meeting by a 30-minute address from Dr Meiri – one of the world’s foremost researchers in medical cannabis.
Ms Sturgess added: “The next step is for the Home Office to visit our site and then grant us a Conditional Licence. The approved licence will be for R&D in the first instance.
“We will grow 65 strains of cannabis to stabilise them, with help from Dr Dedi Meiri’s lab at The Technion in Israel. Then we will move to apply for a commercial licence when we have the strains stabilised.”
Cannabis’ Potential In Battling Coronavirus
Dr Meiri recently launched a new project to assess the potential of the anti- inflammatory properties of cannabis for treating coronaviruses, and Ananda’s plans are being broadened to stabilise strains of cannabis which may have applicability for the treatment of hyper-inflammation caused by coronaviruses.
The MHRA is responsible for ensuring medicines and medical devices are safe and it will be responsible for the providing certification of Good Manufacturing Practice and Good Agricultural and Collection Practices approvals for the facility.
Ananda Developments listed on the junior NEX Exchange – now the AQSE Growth Market – in July 2018, initially raising £930,000 to invest in medicinal cannabis companies.
Ananda’s made its first investment of US $200,000 into iCan Israel-Cannabis, a globally-recognised Israeli company focused on the medical cannabis industry and organiser of CannaTech, the renowned global cannabis event.
This was followed with a further investment into Liberty Herbal Technologies Limited, the developer of hapac, a technology for vaping medicinal cannabis.
Ananda’s announcement follows the sale by Sundial Growers of the Bridge Farm Group – also based in Lincolnshire – for £67m last week. This has been billed as Europe’s largest cannabis deal, to date.