International Manufacturer and Distributor of Medical and Adult-use Cannabis
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Ascent Industries (CSE:ASNT) is a vertically-integrated Canadian cannabis company focused on developing, branding, producing and distributing manufactured cannabis products across Canada, the US and Denmark. Ascent has been acquiring various cannabis companies and proprietary brands that they are able to mass produce. This allows Ascent to provide consumers with access to a variety of brands, producers and cultivators. Ascent’s facilities are also designed to support industrial-scale manufacturing with fully-automated production lines, helping the company meet the demand of the cannabis market.
Ascent has acquired a variety of licenses in Canada and the US. Ascent holds a Canadian dealer license, which allows Ascent to possess, produce, package, sell, send, transport and deliver cannabis products as well as conduct research, clinical trials and provide a variety of analytical testing for the company and other licensed producers and dealers. Ascent is also a licensed producer in Canada. The license was granted to them in November 2017 and they expect sales to commence in September 2018 under this license.
Additionally, Ascent obtained their licensed processor (extraction) and wholesaler in August 2017 and have commenced sales in October 2017 in Oregon. Ascent is a licensed cultivator and producer (extraction) in Nevada since January 2018 and have been selling products since March 2018. The possession of these licenses allows Ascent and its subsidiaries to offer cannabis infused products, such as oils and edibles, under a variety of brands for consumers to choose from, including Agrima, Nu, The Quarry, Grace Notes and Toko.
Ascent is currently pursuing two second site licensed producer amendments for their Canadian locations, a recreational dispensary license in Nevada and a pharmaceutical handling and controlled drug license and a medical cannabis license in Denmark.
Alongside its production and distribution capabilities, Ascent is also conducting two pre-clinical trials. The first trial is being run in conjunction with Simon Fraser University (SFU) and will explore the potential therapeutic benefits cannabinoids could have for various debilitating medical conditions. Additionally, Ascent and SFU will be filing two patents that explore the effects cannabis has on sleep. The second pre-clinical trial is being carried out by Agtech Scientific in conjunction with the University of Kentucky and will explore the effects of cannabis on the health and well-being of dogs and horses over a period of three years.
Dr. Perry Kendall, a lifelong advocate for the use of cannabis who was the first Provincial Health Officer (PHO) for British Columbia’s health ministry, is a board member for the company. Additionally, Ascent’s management team notably holds 47 percent of the company shares.
- Focused on the manufacturing and distribution of cannabis products.
- Industrial-scale capacity at five facilities in Canada and the US.
- Plans for expansion into Denmark and California by 2019.
- Possesses 710,000 square feet in facilities and can produce 65 million grams of cannabis and 12 million grams of oil annually.
- Cultivated six proprietary brands under the Ascent name: Nu, Toko, Grace Notes, The Quarry, Green Screen and Agrima.
- Licensed Producer (cultivation and production) in Canada with dealer license, Licensed Processor (extraction) and Wholesaler in Oregon and Licensed Cultivator and producer (extraction) in Nevada.
- Two pre-clinical trials are underway regarding the therapeutic benefits of cannabis for various diseases and also for the well-being and health of animals.
- Filing two patents for research conducted on sleep.
- Dr. Perry Kendall is a well-recognized board member.
- Management notably own 47 percent of the company shares.
A Different Approach to the Cannabis Market
Ascent is taking a different approach to the cannabis market. The company uses a business model that is focused on distribution and manufacturing over the cultivation of cannabis. Ascent’s facilities are equipped to manufacture products on an industrial scale, which saves time and money. Being a distributor and producer of cannabis products allows Ascent to bring its diverse portfolio of brands to the Canadian and US markets.
In Canada, Ascent has been able to produce over a million units of cannabis accessories and is applying for additional licenses to expand their manufacturing capacities. Ascent is planning on installing fully-automated production lines for their pre-roll and gel capsule products which will be able to produce one million units a month and two million bottles a month, respectively. The flower packaging line is already in operation and can package 2,400 units in an hour. Finally, Ascent can package over a million vaporizer pens per month and can expand the production line after the initial production period.
In addition to the manufacturing model, Ascent is also pursuing a health initiative through its Ascent Health initiative. This health model strives to provide Canadian medical cannabis users with a seamless experience. The goal of this model is to develop a structure for multi-disciplinary care with integrated health and wellness services, such as access to pharmacies, education, long-term care, telehealth and medical specialists. Ascent is meeting these goals through the acquisition and development of full-service medical clinics and pharmacies.
As part of the health initiative, Ascent is also developing an e-commerce platform that will give medical cannabis users access to a variety of licensed producers and products. Ascent will officially be launching the platform in September for testing purposes, but the program will be up and fully-operational for the legalization of recreational cannabis in October. The platform will sell a variety of products from multiple licensed producers, including Ascent’s subsidiary Agrima.
As a licensed producer since November 2017, Ascent is focused on bringing a focused adult-use and medical product range to Canada. Ascent is able to mass produce these products at a cost-competitive rate.
In June 2018, Ascent also acquired their dealers license which allows them to possess, produce, package, sell, send, transport and deliver cannabis products. The dealers license also allows Ascent to conduct research, clinical trials and provide a variety of analytical testing for the company and other licensed producers and dealers.
In June 2018, Ascent’s wholly-owned subsidiary Agrima Botanicals Corp. signed a cannabis flower and trim supply agreement with Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB,OTCQB:ACBFF). Agrima will supply Aurora with up to 20,000 kilograms of dried cannabis flower and up to 6,000 kilograms of cannabis trim each year, with a minimum of 12,000 kilograms per year, for a period of five years when the Agrima Meadows facilities are operational. Ascent and Aurora have entered into additional commercial agreements that cover production manufacturing, international distribution, collaboration on greenhouse construction and a cooperative agreement to expand Ascent’s medical client base.
Agrima Botanicals is a wholly-owned subsidiary and licensed producer for the medical cannabis market. They produce high-quality indoor flower and genetics from their 25,000 square-foot Maple Ridge campus. They are also working on obtaining a dealers license for this location. The facility has been operational since 2011 and produces approximately 2,000 kilograms of high-grade dry flower and 1,500 kilograms of extracted and formulated oil per year.
Agrima is based in British Columbia where the province is renowned for its craft cannabis growers. Agrima offers a craft cannabis program to experienced producers in British Columbia and provides access to intellectual property, knowledge and other resources to ensure their success. In exchange for these resources, Agrima becomes an exclusive provider for their cannabis.
Agrima Scientific Corp. is an R&D division of Ascent and is focused on the development of commercially viable products, services and intellectual property through various research initiatives involving cultivation, extraction, hardware and other cannabis-specific topics. Agrima Scientific has teamed up with SFU’s Department of Biological Sciences to conduct cannabis focused research. All of the research is directed and funded by Ascent.
Agrima Scientific is primarily working on researching the following:
- Patent-protected delivery mechanisms and formulations for cannabis
- Extraction and formulations
- Plant tissue culture propagation
- Breeding and genetics
- Scanning electron microscopy
- Plant pathology and pest control
- Analytical testing and plant diagnosis
Recently, Ascent and SFU scientists have commenced a pre-clinical trial that’s designed to explore the potential therapeutic benefits cannabinoids could have for various debilitating medical conditions.
Ascent and Agrima Scientific also have a diverse intellectual property portfolio that includes trademarks for various brands that they intend to take internationally. Ascent also is in the process of filing two patents for research that they have been conducting in regards to the effects cannabis has on sleep.
The Agrima Labs are housed in a custom 40,000-square-foot retrofitted warehouse located in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. The labs are designed for high-volume extraction, formulation, automated manufacturing and packaging of cannabis. Agrima’s labs have the capability to turn outdoor and below-average cannabis into a high-quality extracted products for the Canadian and European markets. The warehouse will be in operation by Q3 2018 and will be able to produce approximately six million grams of extracted and formulated cannabis oil each year.
The Agrima Meadows facility contains 600,000 square-feet of automated glass and high-pressure sodium lighting and is also located in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. The facility will be able to cultivate approximately 60,000 kilograms of low to mid-grade dried flower. Ascent is also in the process of acquiring an additional floraculture greenhouse which will be used as a year-round cultivation facility. They believe that the new addition will be operational by 2019.
Ascent entered the US cannabis market while they waited to receive a license for medicinal cannabis cultivation from Health Canada. In 2015, Ascent targeted the Oregon cannabis market as there were no residency requirements for obtaining a license while other states, like Washington, had two year residency policies.
This led to the acquisition of Sweet Cannabis, which is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ascent. Sweet Cannabis is an industry leader in cannabis cultivation and concentrate extraction that sources from local farmers. Ascent is focused on providing a wide product range to capture shelf space and to build brand awareness. They offer consumers five brands, which include Nu, The Quarry, Grace Notes, Toko and Agrima providing a variety of cannabis products and accessories including edibles, oils, tinctures and gel caps for both medical and adult-use consumers.
Sweet Cannabis and Ascent have done well in both Oregon and Nevada and are interested in expanding into California by 2019 where they have applied for delivery licenses. Ascent will be focusing primarily on Los Angeles, which has a population of approximately 18 million people. Additionally, having a license in Los Angeles gives Ascent access to the markets in other major cities nearby.
Sweet Oregon is headquartered in Portland and their 7,000-square-foot retrofitted warehouse is responsible for the extraction, manufacturing and distribution of all of Ascent’s merchandisable cannabis products. Sweet Oregon possesses a wholesaler and processor (extraction) license for adult-use and medicinal cannabis. The facility has been in operation since September 2017 and is able to extract 1,500 kilograms of extracted and formulated oil per year. The facility currently supplies approximately 60 dispensaries and offers 10 brand selections.
Sweet Nevada is based in Las Vegas and they possess a cultivator and producer (extraction) license for adult-use and medicinal cannabis. Nevada’s retail cannabis licensing program is limited to 145 existing licenses, two of which are held by Sweet Nevada. This gives the Ascent subsidiary first-mover advantage in a state that is experienced in regulating adult-use industries.
After legalization, Nevada reported record breaking first month revenue sales of cannabis compared to other legalized states. Currently, Sweet Nevada is selling products in five dispensaries and offers three product lines to retailers across the state.
Sweet Nevada operates a 37,500 square-foot retrofitted warehouse that produces 3,000 kilograms of high-grade dried flower and 3,000 kilograms of extracted and formulated oil per year. The building is partially operational and is undergoing further renovations designed to increase production. The facility is expected to be fully operational by 2019.
Ascent has invested in Agtech Scientific, a diversified hemp company based in Kentucky that is dedicated to providing high-tech industrial hemp solutions. Agtech Scientific has been developing hemp-derived and CBD-based medicinal formulas that can be used in a variety of health and wellness initiatives for animals.
Agtech’s formulas have been developed from research conducted in their pet and equine studies. Both studies will be carried out over a period of three years with the help of the University of Kentucky and will be determining whether hemp and CBD will improve the health and well-being of dogs and horses, specifically. The research team also would like to determine whether hemp will reduce stress and increase the immune systems of horses when they are in transport.
In May 2018, Ascent applied for a Wholesaler Dealers License and Controlled Drug License in Denmark. Ascent has also submitted eight product applications into the Danish Medical Cannabis Pilot Program for approval. If these licenses and products are approved, Ascent will be able to export products to Europe which will provide them some key benefits. For example, there are fewer competitors in Europe and higher margins. Ascent is currently establishing partnerships with established cannabis producers and distributors in Denmark.
Blair Jordan — Interim CEO
Blair Jordan brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Ascent team as an investment banker with broad cross-capital structure knowledge and many years of international experience. He specializes in helping companies define their corporate strategy then develop and execute transactions to achieve their goals. Jordan holds a diverse set of expertise in the technology and life sciences arenas, but especially in finance. With his combined MBA/LLB, Blair is an expert at working with complex structures, financial analysis and deal documentation. He was most recently Managing Director of Investment Banking at Echelon Wealth Partners Inc., previously with Credit Suisse in London, New York and Tokyo and Securities Lawyer with Bennett Jones LLP in Calgary.
Chris Lee — CMO
With a passion for delivering strategic and creative solutions for brands, Chris Lee has over 20 years of marketing agency experience strategizing and developing brand campaigns for national and international companies including Google, Pepsi, Best Buy, Adidas, Toyota, Scion and XM Satellite Radio. Lee has earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) with a major in Communications and a minor in Psychology from Simon Fraser University and a diploma in Internet Marketing from the UBC Sauder School of Business.
Mats Hakansson — VP Europe
Utilizing his 25 years of experience from various parts of the life science industry, Mats Hakansson will be heavily counted on to expand Ascent’s European branch. He brings unique international knowledge from senior management positions working with large global brands such as Nicorette, Regaine and Enfamil, as well as various start-up companies, bringing ground breaking innovations to market. Hakansson earned an MBA from The University of Linköping Sweden and University of Washington, in addition to a General Management Diploma from IMD Switzerland.
Jordan Winnett — VP Marketing & Communications
Holding nearly a decade of experience working in the communications industry in several North American and European countries, Jordan Winnett is well positioned within the Ascent team as it looks to expand its leading brands into multiple jurisdictions. Having familiarity creating and maintaining the brands of a Canadian university, a major auto company and professional sport teams, Winnett’s comprehensive skill set is utilized within multiple areas for Ascent. He received a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), with Honours, from Bishop’s University and an International Master’s degree (M.A.), with Merit in Media, Communications and Political Science from Aarhus University (Denmark) and Swansea University (UK).
Janet Joo — VP Human Resources
Having collected more than five years experience working in Administration and Human Resources at Aritzia, one of Canada’s leading multinational female retail clothing brands, Janet Joo is well positioned to work in a similar role with Ascent’s growing company. With Ascent’s plans to expand into multiple jurisdictions, Joo’s skills and knowledge learned from her long tenure at a global company like Aritzia will pay dividends when securing the key personnel required to steer the ship.
Tobin Hwang — VP Capital Projects
After graduating with a Bachelors of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from Queen’s University, Tobin Hwang has accrued over a decade of international project management experience in multidisciplinary capital infrastructure projects. He joins the Ascent team with a wide exposure to energy, agriculture and facility construction.
Chris McDonough — VP Business Development
With over 16 years of experience in the cannabis space, operating in a variety of functions, Chris McDonough brings a diverse skill set and knowledge base to the Ascent team. Having worked for multiple cannabis companies, including Canadian startups, McDonough’s track record for relationship building, business development and industry awareness is incredibly valuable as his expertise and talents will be relied upon as Ascent continues to grow into more global markets.
Dr. Priyantha Wimalaratne — Extraction & Formulation Scientist
With over 30 years experience in extraction and identification of active principles of botanical extracts, Priyantha Wimalaratne is responsible for developing and characterizing new product formulations and determining the suitability of new extraction methodologies for commercial use. As a leading research scientist focused on natural products chemistry and synthetic organic chemistry, Wimalaratne is well suited to guide Ascent’s research department into the evolving cannabis space. Wimalaratne received his PhD in 1998 and M.Sc in 1993 in Organic Chemistry from Simon Fraser University.
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