With pre-licensing inspection from Health Canada being the next step in the licensing process, Beleave is nearing the final stages of obtaining its cultivation license. In our first visit to Beleave in Flamborough, Ontario, we explored some of the technical details of the company and its eventual plans for production. Now 6 months removed from that first visit, a lot has changed, both at Beleave and within the entire medicinal marijuana sector.
CEO Roger Ferreira got me up to speed with recent developments since our last visit in June. “We received our first set of review questions in May 2016, and in September we heard that the review was complete and we received our affirmation letter.” Now, the next step is for Beleave to confirm their readiness with Health Canada prior to the pre-licensing inspection. This is pending some minor implementations that Beleave recently completed to get the facility up to code, and to allow their production capacity to become readily scalable for future expansion plans. “We had taken the initiative of having built out largely prior to having completed the review process so we’d have a certain element of readiness and to limit the amount of downtime between the affirmation letter and the inspection.” Although no official date has been set for the inspection, the team at Beleave expects to be ready for early 2017.
In the interim, Beleave did not sit idle, and instead took advantage of government research grants to further the understanding of marijuana and extraction techniques. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) is one of Canada’s largest and oldest funding agencies, having funded more than $7 billion in research over the last 10 years.
Beleave applied for and received funding through the NSERC Engage grant and collaborated with Dr. Lesley Campbell from the Department of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University. The recently completed research focused on developing a unique method for cannabinoid/terpene extraction. The research compared various commonly used extraction techniques and provided empirical evidence for a highly efficient method for extraction and the recovery of cannabinoids. “We had a couple of goals from this research. We want to derive IP from our extraction methodologies. We want to have something we can use for an industrial-scale operational procedure for oil production in the future. We also wanted to foster further knowledge transfer within the cannabis community and the scientific research community in general.”
On the backs of the success of the NSERC Engage grant, a Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) grant from NSERC was applied for and awarded. Beleave will again collaborate with Dr. Campbell, and they plan on investigating cannabis plant breeding and genetics. “This grant will look at using proteomic and plant genomic tools along with mathematical modelling to characterize some of the genes and pathways involved in the inheritance of certain key cannabinoids.” This research will help launch Beleave’s breeding program, and the goal is for new strains developed through this initiative to be protected and marketed under the Beleave brand. With Canada’s cannabis genetic bottleneck, this is Beleave’s way of addressing the issue and introducing genetic variety back into the market.
Beleave intends on conducting research hand-in-hand with production. This is a company that’s not satisfied with the status quo, that will continue to innovate and find more efficient and better ways to grow and process cannabis—all backed by fundamental science and research. The plans are already in place for an on-site research greenhouse dedicated to upcoming genomics research and other planned research projects in the future. Beleave plans to use the results from these research projects for product development and IP protection, as well as to make valuable contributions to scientific research related to marihuana through peer-reviewed publication. The team at Beleave have adopted the philosophy that ‘what’s good for the industry is good for Beleave.’