NEW YORK, May 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Following Canada's wide-ranging cannabis legalization, a string of countries have delved into the cannabis industry, showing a particular interest in medical cannabis. The recreational market still faces barriers due to the psychoactive effects of cannabis' derivative, marijuana, and its THC content. However, extensive research has proposed that its counterpart, CBD, does not induce psychoactive effects while still providing positive health benefits. Specifically, hemp-derived CBD contains minimal traces of THC and as a result, it provides users with a therapeutic and relaxing effect. So far, studies conducted to evaluate the efficacy of CBD have returned positive results, subsequently leading to international government bodies adopting the use of CBD for medicinal purposes. Additionally, the widespread use of CBD could potentially impact other countries and regions as they ponder entering into the market as well. Perhaps most notably, the Latin American region has developed into a growing marketplace due to its lenient regulations. The growth of the Latin American marketplace is largely due to Uruguay and Jamaica's legalization of cannabis, as Uruguay became the first country to fully legalize cannabis back in 2013. Now, Uruguay allows its citizens to grow, distribute, and consume cannabis freely, as the country has often maintained a liberal stance in regards to narcotics. On the other hand, several Latin American countries such as Colombia and Mexico face a ravaging war on drugs, which has put the two in troublesome situations. For instance, selling, buying, and exporting drugs has long been illegal in Colombia. However, in 1994, the Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled that moderate possession of cannabis for personal use was legal. Colombia also went on to mark other historic milestones in 2015 after President Juan Manuel Santos allowed cannabis for medicinal use and the Colombian Supreme Court ruling allowing for the cultivation of up to 20 plants. Overall, the collective effort by Latin American countries highlights the profound impact cannabis is having across the region. According to data compiled by Prohibition Partners, the Latin American cannabis market was valued at USD 125 Million in 2018. By 2028, the market is expected to be valued at USD 12.7 Billion. Blueberries Medical Corp. (OTC: BBRRF) (CSE: BBM), Valens Groworks Corp. (OTC: VGWCF) (CSE: VGW), The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (OTC: TGODF) (TSX: TGOD), Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (OTC: KHRNF) (TSX-V: KHRN), PharmaCielo Ltd. (OTC: PHCEF) (TSXV: PCLO)
The Latin American region is an attractive marketspace for many entrepreneurs and investors because of the large user base. Prohibition Partners suggests that the region has a prospective market of over 500 million adult use consumers and 4.3 million patients. The user base also traverses several countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru, which have all legalized cannabis in some form. However, despite the widespread accessibility within the region, the marketplace still faces heavy competition from regions such as Germany and Canada. Regardless, many cannabis corporations have already moved to establish operations within the Latin American region, mainly due to cultivation matters. In particular, Colombia has become a region of major interest as, compared to countries like Germany and Canada, Colombia faces significantly fewer barriers in addition to inexpensive cultivation costs. Additionally, the favorable weather climate in Colombia also allows cultivators to produce high-quality cannabis. As a result, Colombia is expected to provide 44% of the global medical cannabis demand in 2018. Furthermore, Colombia is also planning to produce nearly 40.5 tons of cannabis per year beginning in 2019, according to BizLatin Hub. "We believe that the expansion of a Latin American market will significantly impact the global cannabis industry, undercutting producers and pricing worldwide. Strong forecast population growth, a perfect climate for cannabis cultivation, bolstered by progressive legislation and regulatory change are set to ensure Latin America remains a very attractive prospect for cannabis companies, and investors," said Stephen Murphy, Managing Director at Prohibition Partners.
Blueberries Medical Corp. (OTCQB: BBRRF) (CSE: BBM) is also listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker (CSE: BBM). Earlier last week, the Company announced that it has, "received approval for the production, sale and export of five cannabidiol ("CBD") based health and wellness products from the Instituto Nacional de Vigilancia de Medicamentos y Alimentos ("INVIMA"), the Colombian National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute.
The approval has been granted for Blueberries' initial suite of Health and Wellness products which include a Face Cream, Lip Balm, Body Cream, Beauty Balm and Cannabis Oil Shampoo. Product launch in Colombia and Latin America is expected to commence in the second half of 2019 upon the completion of the Company's product branding strategy and distribution arrangements. As the Company grows its cosmeceutical line and brings products to market, Blueberries will leverage its strong product branding and marketing team, led by Christian Toro, Chairman of the Board, who brings over 40 years of experience in the development and marketing of consumer-packaged goods. The INVIMA approval is also expected to expedite the product approval process in other Latin America countries outside of Colombia.
"INVIMA approval is a major accomplishment which allows us to commence product commercialization. Our team of distinguished experts has diligently worked to create proprietary products to bring the benefits of CBD to consumers across diverse markets in Latin America and globally, and position Blueberries as a leader in this new market segment as it continues to evolve. Our wellness product line will offer a range of premium products with natural ingredients for both the female and male consumer," stated Dr. Patricio Stocker, Chief Executive Officer of the Company.
"Commercialization is expected to commence in the second half of this year upon the completion of our product branding and distribution strategy. During this time, we will continue to expand our portfolio of registered products with a robust pipeline of new products under development and finalize distribution arrangements within Colombia and abroad," stated Eduardo Molinari, Chief Marketing Officer of the Company.
CBD based cosmetic products have been an important focus area for Blueberries' technical and business development teams and the Company continues to focus research efforts towards the topical use of CBD to address the growing global skincare market which is expected to reach US$131 Billion in 2019 (Source: Euromonitor International).
The five INVIMA approved CBD based products will form the foundation of the Company's cosmeceutical and wellness offerings and include the following.
Face Cream: Specially designed for sensitive skin, the nutrient-rich formulation moisturizes the face and reduces the signs of aging providing sensations of wellness.
Lip Balm: Made with cannabis oil containing high concentrations of essential fatty acids, CBD lip balm helps to repair the skin's natural moisture barrier, leaving the skin soft and supple.
Body Cream: For use with dry and/or sensitive skin, this cream restores the natural moisture and elasticity of the skin for a younger, healthier look.
Beauty Balm: Multifunction, highly versatile cosmetic product that moisturizes and illuminates the skin, smoothing its tone, covering imperfections and protecting the skin from UV rays.
Cannabis Oil Shampoo: Moisturizing formulation leaves scalp strong and healthy, irrigating the capillaries for healthier, stronger and brighter hair while also helping to reduce premature hair loss.
CBD is widely regarded as an excellent cosmeceutical ingredient given its richness in nutrients such as Vitamin E, Omega 3 and Omega 6 as well as its many beneficial effects including the reduction of acne, dry skin and psoriasis. Its ease of absorption and ability to penetrate the skin helps to improve blood circulation and the lymphatic system functionality. The Company is currently in the final phase of R&D for two additional products which are expected to receive approval in the coming weeks.
About INVIMA: The Colombia National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute (Instituto Nacional de Vigilancia de Medicamentos y Alimentos or INVIMA) is a regulatory authority that was created in 1992 under the Ministry of Health. INVIMA is responsible for inspecting and supervising the manufacturing and marketing of health products, food and drugs as well as identifying and evaluating violations of health standards or procedures, implementing best practices and providing medical approval for the import and export of products.
As a level four World Health Organization (WHO) agency, product approval by INVIMA can expedite the product approval process for countries outside Colombia. INVIMA has the same level of WHO status as Canada and the United States.
About Blueberries Medical Corp: Blueberries is a Latin American licensed producer of naturally grown premium quality cannabis with its primary operations ideally located in the Bogotá Savannah of central Colombia and operations currently being established in Argentina. The Company is led by a specialized team with proprietary expertise in agriculture, genetics, extraction, medicine, pharmacology and marketing, Blueberries is fully licensed for the cultivation, production, domestic distribution, and international export of CBD and THC-based medical cannabis in Colombia. Blueberries' combination of leading scientific expertise, agricultural advantages and distribution arrangements has positioned the Company to become a leading international supplier of naturally grown, processed, and standardized medicinal-grade cannabis oil extracts and related products."
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Valens Groworks Corp. (OTCQB: VGWCF) (CSE: VGW) is a research-driven, vertically integrated Canadian cannabis company focused on downstream secondary extraction methodology, distillation and cannabinoid isolation and purification, as well as associated quality testing with three wholly-owned subsidiaries located in and around Kelowna, BC. Valens GroWorks Corp. recently announced that it is the first third-party cannabis extraction company in Canada to receive organic certification for cannabis oil production from Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd. for its proprietary CO2 and ethanol extraction processing methods in accordance with the Canadian Organic Standards. The certification gives Valens the ability to produce certified organic cannabis oil from hemp and cannabis biomass that is organically cultivated and certified. Valens will now be able to immediately begin offering certified organic cannabis oil processing to The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (TSX: TGOD) from their certified organic cannabis and hemp under the multi-year extraction agreement announced March 11th, 2019. "We expect to see increased demand for organic cannabis and hemp products in the future," says Tyler Robson, Chief Executive Officer of Valens GroWorks. "With certified organic processes in place, Valens is now in a position to work with these cultivators to bring certified organic cannabis oil-based products to market, an achievement which demonstrates our commitment to supporting our current and future clients' needs."
The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (OTCQX: TGODF) (TSX: TGOD) is a research & development company licensed under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations ("ACMPR") to cultivate medical cannabis. The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. recently announced it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of privately-held HemPoland in an immediately accretive cash and share transaction. HemPoland is a leading European manufacturer and marketer of premium organic CBD oils led by founder and CEO, Maciej Kowalski, one of Europe's most widely recognized CBD experts. This strategic acquisition provides access to HemPoland's vast distribution network, premium Cannabigold brand, state-of-the-art hemp oil extraction technologies, and provides a strategic pathway into the European market for TGOD's medical & recreational products and licensing deals. "HemPoland is a key component to a number of strategic acquisitions and planned partnerships focused on expanding our global distribution network. This acquisition will significantly add to the Company's top and bottom line," said Brian Athaide, Chief Executive Officer of TGOD. "Gaining market share with CBD products now, in the EU, with over 700 locations allows TGOD to establish immediate brand awareness across all verticals including infused beverages. This is an accretive acquisition and gateway to Europe's 750 million people accelerating our plan of becoming the world's largest organic cannabis brand," continued Athaide.
Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (OTCQB: KHRNF) (TSX-V: KHRN) is positioned to be the dominant integrated cannabis company in Latin America. Khiron Life Sciences Corp. recently announced that the Company had signed an LOI with Copservir Ltda., Colombia's largest pharmacy chain, to distribute Khiron's medical cannabis products across the country. The companies have agreed to initial discounting and commercial fees and will work towards establishing a definitive commercial contract and detailed distribution plan to begin sales in the second half of 2019. On completion of the agreement, Khiron will have established a compliant and secure distribution platform for its medical products across Colombia, starting with its custom-made pharmacy compound strategy. Copservir's extensive brick-and-mortar presence, virtual channel and distribution capability will allow Khiron to offer patients across the country the option for pick-up or home delivery of their medical cannabis formulations. Coupled with Khiron's ongoing medical education platform to educate and engage doctors and physicians across the country, this distribution strategy will allow Khiron to reach more patients in a safe, compliant and innovative matter. Alvaro Torres, Khiron Chief Executive Officer and Director commented, "The proposed agreement with Copservir Ltda. represents a significant development for Khiron, offering the opportunity to leverage our first mover advantage to distribute medical cannabis products across Colombia and service the more than 5 million potential patients in the country. We also view Copservir entering the medical cannabis market as a milestone validation of the market opportunity in Colombia. By offering a platform that makes it easier for patients to access their formulations in a compliant and safe manner, Khiron establishes a leadership position in the medical cannabis market in Colombia."
PharmaCielo Ltd. (OTC: PHCEF) (TSXV: PCLO) is a global company, headquartered in Canada, with a focus on ethical and sustainable processing and supplying of all natural, medicinal-grade cannabis oil extracts and related products to large channel distributors. PharmaCielo Ltd. recently announced that its Colombian subsidiary had received from the national cultivar registry approval for the listing of a further 10 strains, each of which has a prominent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) profile. The additional registration of the new strains to the national cultivar registry, including a unique 1:1 THC to CBD ratio strain, doubles the number of approved strains PharmaCielo holds in the registry, making it the largest holder of approved strains in Colombia. It also paves the way for the commercial registration, production and sale of the 20 unique strains. "The approval and registration of a second set of strains with the national cultivar registry is another important step towards PharmaCielo's goal of becoming a leading global supplier of premium medicinal-grade cannabis oils," said Federico Cock-Correa, president and Chief Executive Officer of PharmaCielo Colombia Holdings S.A.S. "The range of the strains now available at our disposal for commercial production is an important advantage that sets the company apart in both the Colombian and global marketplaces."
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