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Beleave Inc. (CNSX:BE) is a Canadian biotech company and an authorized licensed producer of medical-grade cannabis under Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). The company’s larger strategy is to obtain cultivation and sales licenses and build out North American and European distribution channels. Beleave then hopes to expand production and capitalize on expected demand-growth spurred by cannabis legalization across Canada and in select US states.
In May 2017, Beleave announced its wholly-owned subsidiary, First Access Medical, received a license to cultivate medical cannabis pursuant to the ACMPR.
“We are ecstatic to have achieved our goal of becoming a licensed producer,” said Beleave CEO Roger Ferreira. “We have remained diligent and focused throughout the process and understand that this is just the beginning of a much bigger plan and vision for Beleave.”
The company has swung into production at its 14,500-square foot First Access Medical facility, located near Hamilton, Ontario, and is expanding cultivation. Beleave is currently adding a 66,000 square-foot hybrid greenhouse to its existing site and has plans for a second separate 200,000 square-foot facility.
Beleave’s second focus is on R&D of proprietary cannabis extracts that can be used in the therapeutic treatment of a wide-range of illnesses. This branch of the business vertically integrates well with the company’s cultivation operation. Beleave has partnered with a leading research team at Ryerson University to extract and isolate unique cannabis compounds which will be evaluated under clinical trials for safety and efficacy.
In an effort to build a top-tier medical marijuana company, Beleave has assembled a renowned team of experts across different fields, each with a strategic role in propelling the company forward. Beleave considers its team as its greatest asset and a distinct advantage over its peers.
Dr. Roger Ferreira is a neuroscientist whose area of research is particularly relevant to medical marijuana, specifically particular strains of medical marijuana which have the potential to not only alleviate symptoms of disease, but also reduce brain inflammation and disease progression. Chris Murphy, a member of Beleave’s Board of Directors, is also a director of Star Produce Ltd., one of Canada’s largest distributors of fresh fruit and vegetables. Murphy’s experience in logistics, food safety, greenhouse operations, and tracking systems as well as his industry connections with greenhouses, distribution networks and retailers across North America, make him an invaluable member of the Beleave team. Dr. David Naranjit has worked in the field of analytical chemistry for decades. His extensive research background and expertise in analytical chemistry applications make him an excellent choice as an Advisor to Beleave in the development of proprietary cannabis extracts.
Dana Gidlow, Head of Veteran Affairs and Community Outreach for Beleave, is President of the Toronto Police Military Veterans Association, having served in the Canadian Forces Reserve Army from 1968 to 2011 when he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. He also served in the Toronto Police Service for 34 years and retired as a Supervisor in 2008. Gidlow’s role at Beleave also includes ensuring the facilities adhere to the highest in security standards. Paul Evanov heads Marketing and Advertising for Beleave and has extensive experience in mass media marketing. Evanov is the Executive Vice President at Evanov Radio Group, Canada’s largest independent radio broadcaster which has 2.7 million weekly listeners across 18 radio stations. Andrew Wnek, head of the Audit & Compensation Committee/Finance and Capital Markets Advisory for Beleave, has held senior finance roles with Canadian Tire Corporation including Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration in a twenty-one year career. He also served as the Chief Information Officer for Canadian Tire for over seven years.
- ACMPR license to cultivate medical cannabis.
- Near-term production with license in pre license inspection.
- Production facility (14,500 square feet) complete with a capacity of 550,000 grams of marijuana per year.
- Low-cost expansion planned including a new 66,000 square foot hybrid greenhouse operation.
- Endorsement by the city of Hamilton.
- Strategically appointed team of respected industry professionals across a wide range of fields.
- Vertically integrated business including medical-grade marijuana production and the development of proprietary therapeutic extracts.
- Actively working towards patents on extraction techniques with clinical trials to follow.
- Tight share structure.
Medical Cannabis Cultivation
Beleave’s wholly-owned subsidiary First Access Medical Inc. is licensed to cultivate and sell medical marijuana as outlined by Health Canada’s ACMPR program.
The 14,500-square foot indoor facility is complete and the 550,000 grams per year marijuana production and has the support of the City of Hamilton’s Planning and Economic Development Department. The facility houses four hospital-grade antimicrobial production rooms and 200 flowering lights, and is equipped with a 15 million-gram capacity storage vault, top-of-the-line security monitoring, data storage, and full IT integration. The operation has access to power from an adjacent solar energy project as well as unlimited water.
Planned Low-cost Expansion
Beleave’s medical marijuana production can be easily and cost-effectively scaled up with the help of industry partners. Phase One of the company’s expansion is already underway. As of June 2017, the company is building out a new 66,000-foot hybrid greenhouse expected to significantly drop the per gram cost of production. Up to 75 percent of the space will be dedicated to flower bud cultivation.
This new greenhouse will combine the advantages of outdoor growing (natural light) and indoor growing (a controlled environment) for high quality plants and better yields than a traditional greenhouse. Management expects yields of 40 grams per square foot in each flowering cycle, with four to five cycles every year. In addition, the site’s large production capacity should allow economies of scale, significantly reducing grow costs.
The company is also in the midst of planning for Phase Two of on-site expansion, in case market demand requires more production than current capacity can meet. Management has already identified four acres on its property where it could make several 20,000 square-foot additions.
Developing Proprietary Cannabis Extracts
Beleave has partnered with Ryerson University on a collaborative drug standardization research project with the goal of developing medical-grade cannabis extracts for their potential use as pharmaceutical therapies. Dr. Lesley Campbell, of Ryerson’s department of Chemistry and Biology, is leading the study which employs the advanced extraction and analysis equipment available at the university’s state-of-the-art facility.
The partners are actively working toward patenting extraction techniques. Once patented, the proprietary extracts will be evaluated under clinical trials for their therapeutic potential. The partnership’s work greatly adds to Beleave’s intellectual property portfolio and enhances the company’s ability to move products toward commercial production.
In April 2017, Beleave announced a new clinical research program with Dr. Mohit Bhandari. A Canada Research Chair at McMaster University, Bhandari will act as clinical collaborator, helping Beleave develop therapeutic applications of cannabis for management of pain in musculoskeletal disorders affecting as much of 30 percent of the population.
“An exciting goal of this project will be for Beleave to have large-scale industrial processes for isolation of certain key compounds of interest. We want to develop precisely formulated and standardized compositions, and ultimately evaluate this IP for commercial applications,” said Ferreira.
Roger Ferreira, Ph.D.—Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Roger Ferreira received his PhD training in the area of neuroimmunology, with a particular focus on the physiological mechanisms by which brain inflammation can be curbed. Dr. Ferreira has authored several peer-reviewed publications in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, Frontiers in Cellular Immunology, and the Public Library of Science. His area of research is particularly relevant to medical marijuana, as there is strong pre-clinical evidence that cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive ingredient, can limit the ability of brain immune cells to cause excessive inflammation, an exciting area of research that will reveal how particular strains of medical marijuana have the potential to not only alleviate symptoms of disease, but also reduce brain inflammation and disease progression. In addition, Dr. Ferreira brings his extensive training in microbiology and analytical chemistry to First Access Medical’s quality assurance process. He will be responsible for overseeing all marijuana quality assurance testing provisioned under the MMPR, and applies his substantial training in laboratory management at the University of Toronto, and Toronto Western Research Institute (University Health Network) to oversee all good production practice.
Bojan Krasic—Chief Financial Officer
Bojan Krasic has spent 5 years as an investment banker in Toronto. He began his career with Thomas Weisel Partners Canada Inc. and later joined Stifel Nicolaus Canada Inc. Krasic has experience in finance structuring, providing valuations, fairness opinions, exchange listings and various merger and acquisition transactions. His experience has enabled him to establish and service as CEO of Terrella Capital. He holds an honours degree from the University of Toronto in Finance and Economics, and a Master’s Degree in Investment Management with a specialization in Capital Markets from Concordia University. Through his role as CFO of Beleave Krasic has helped develop various partnerships including legal, financial, and business development spectrums. He was instrumental in assisting in raising capital and has played an integral role in developing security and record keeping protocols.
Bill Panagiotakopolous—Chief Operations Officer
Bill Panagiotakopoulos has spent ten (years in the Soil/Land Remediation industry as the Owner and CEO of Cardinal Group’s Earth Works division – a company specializing in ground water remediation. In this capacity he has successfully devised and implemented numerous cost-effective bioremediation solutions that convert contaminants into harmless by-products and are environmentally safe in residential, commercial properties and salvage yards. Panagiotakopoulos has also spent five years as President and CEO of Hamilton Solar, where he successfully developed a 250 kW Solar Tracking generating plant for the Ontario Power Authority’s, Feed-In-Tariff program for renewable energy. He has built Ontario’s first large scale Elevated Solar Tracking farm on commercial land. Panagiotakopoulos continues to use his resources as a seasoned veteran in managing construction projects to develop the project into becoming the most efficient and cost effective MMPR project.
Andrew T. Wnek—Audit & Compensation Committee/Finance and Capital Markets Advisory
Andrew Wnek is a senior financial executive with significant retail, oil and gas and not for profit industry experience. He has held senior finance roles with Canadian Tire Corporation including Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration in a twenty one-year career. Wnek also developed strong technology knowledge as the Chief Information Officer for over seven years for Canadian Tire. Most recently, he was the National CFO for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Wnek has served on several Boards including as Finance Chair for six years on the Royal Conservatory of Music Board and as Audit Committee Chair for Momentum, a technology service provider.
Chris Murphy—Distribution and Operations, Director
Chris Murphy is a Toronto-based regulatory and criminal lawyer. He sits on the board of directors of Star Produce Ltd., one of Canada’s largest distributors of fresh fruit and vegetables with more than 100 offshore programs and 200,000 square feet of refrigerated distribution space. Murphy brings to Beleave a wealth of experience in logistics, food safety, greenhouse operations, and information systems capable of tracking product from seed to sale. He has broad experience and industry connections with greenhouses, distribution networks and retailers across North America, we welcome him on board as an invaluable asset that will assist in all areas of our business from production practices, expansion plans to sales. Murphy is a former drug prosecutor with the Department of Justice Canada. Before becoming a prosecutor, he acted as a judicial law clerk at the Supreme Court of British Columbia. He also practiced civil litigation at a firm of some 150 lawyers in Calgary, Alberta. In addition, he served as a special constable with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Dana Gidlow—Head of Veteran Affairs and Community Outreach, Director
Dana Gidlow is President of the Toronto Police Military Veterans Association, an organization formed in 1922, which is comprised of veterans of armed conflicts either with past service in Military Units, United Nations Peace Keeping Operations or service in Reserve Units with postings to areas of conflict such as Afghanistan. Gidlow served in the Canadian Forces Reserve Army from 1968 to 2011 when he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after 43 years of service. In his time in the Canadian Forces, Gidlow did three tours, most recently to Afghanistan where he advised the Afghan National Police on site security. He will also play an important role in ensuring our facilities adhere to the highest in security standards. In addition to Gidlow’s service in the Canadian Forces, he served in the Toronto Police Service for 34 years and retired as a Supervisor in 2008. In this time, he worked on the Major Crime Unit, as a Criminal investigations Detective, and even as a Media Awareness Instructor. He was also deployed to Kosovo as an International Police Officer where among other roles, he investigated in theft and smuggling cases.
David Naranjit—Development of Proprietary Extract Products
Dr. David Naranjit’s work has been in the field of analytical chemistry, particularly in atomic spectroscopy and chromatography. He has been a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biology, Ryerson University since 1985, and has taught courses in the above stated areas. Based on Dr. Naranjit’s extensive academic and research background and expertise in analytical chemistry applications and research, he provides expert counsel to the company regarding its on-going research programs and standard practices. Particularly, these programs include, but are not limited to: the development of analytical techniques used to characterize cannabinoid products; advising on quality assurance practices and strategies; and advising on the development of cannabis and cannabis delivery products. This role will specifically include providing general insights into the challenges and solutions in the field of medical cannabis and to provide feedback to management in the areas outlined above.
Justin Kosalka—Development of Proprietary Extract Products
Justin Kosalka has been trained and is experienced in materials, synthetic and analytical chemistry. While earning his master’s degree (MSc), he has had the privilege of presenting his work at various conferences including the 96th Canadian Chemistry Conference (Quebec City, Quebec, 2013) and the Chemistry and Biology Research Symposium at Ryerson University (Toronto, Ontario, 2013). He is experienced in laboratory management and teaching analytical chemistry at a University level. His interests lie in research which encompasses his three areas of expertise. Combining his research interests and his positive outlook on medical marijuana, he is always looking for new and interesting research opportunities in the field. His primary objective will be quality assurance. He will be responsible for evaluating products, ensuring that Health Canada requirements surrounding medical marijuana are not only met but exceeded and that all products are of the highest quality.