Beleave Gears Up for Canada’s Road to Marijuana Legalization with Key Appointments

Spotlight Companies  |

Marijuana’s road to legalization has become and continues to be an international topic of interest. In recent years, among other countries, the United States, Australia, Spain, and the Netherlands have either dramatically decriminalized or passed laws making either or both medicinal and recreational use of marijuana legal. For the U.S., California, the nation’s third largest and most populous state, is set to vote on its Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Initiative in November. The nation’s neighbor to the North, Canada, is also making strides towards legalization.

In 2001, Health Canada established regulations that made medical marijuana available to eligible patients. The Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations would be established in 2014, with the Supreme Court of Canada expanding the definition of medical cannabis the following year. Currently, Canada’s liberal party plans to introduce a law to legalize recreational marijuana in Spring 2017 is creating the need for businesses within its maturing medical marijuana space to evolve, offering unique opportunities for growth within the sector.

Beleave (BE:CNX), a biotech company dedicated to producing the highest quality medicinal marijuana products, has demonstrated, in its most recent operational developments, the company's current focus in preparation for 2017: versatility.

In an effort to establish itself and operate as a well-rounded organization, Beleave has revealed key appointments to the company’s Advisory Board and management team, all of which boasts expertise across multiple business sectors. Earlier this month, Beleave named Retired Lieutenant Colonel Dana Gidlow as Head of Veterans Affairs and Community Outreach. Although Beleave is gearing up for legalization of recreational marijuana their medical division will continue to be driven by innovation and research from which the recreational side will inadvertently benefit.

In 2013, The Center for Investigative Reporting found that the number of prescribed opioids to U.S. Veterans, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, have increased 270% in just over a decade. The report also found that alongside this increase in prescribed medications lies another major life-threatening concern among VA patients: overdoses. "The death rate from opioids among VA health care is nearly double the national average," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore as reported by The Military Times. "From what I hear from veterans is that medical marijuana has helped them deal with pain and PTSD, particularly as an alternative to opioids."

As it turns out, according to CBC, drug reimbursement payments to veterans were on a decline for nearly a decade; that is, until the recent rise in payments for marijuana. Date obtained from Veterans Affairs shows that 1,762 veterans were reimbursed for medical marijuana, representing a 15-fold increase in just two years. The increase was no surprise to Trev Bungay, Vice President of Trauma Healing Centers, an organization that connects veterans with doctors able to prescribe medical marijuana. Trauma Healing Centers also assists Veterans file reimbursement claims through Veterans Affairs Canada. "Now that people are finally coming out and admitting that they're sick and they need help, whether it's post-traumatic stress or chronic pain," said Bungay, "or any other illness that can be helped with medicinal marijuana, then that's where it's coming from."

As current President of the Toronto Police Military Veterans Association, along with 43 years of service in the Canadian Forces Reserve Army and over three decades of service in the Toronto Police Service, Gidlow is positioned to bring Beleave a unique and first-hand perspective of unmet needs regarding Veteran care. “We are beyond pleased to be able to welcome Dana, and who better to connect with such an important demographic than someone who truly understands what it means to be a veteran,” said Roger Ferreira, CEO of Beleave. “We look forward to working closely with Dana not only as we connect with our military veterans, but various groups. Dana will also play an important role in ensuring our facilities adhere to the highest in security standards.” Ultimately, Gidlow's appointment has the potential to bring the company access to various contact groups and make Beleave the Veteran and first responder communities producer of choice.

Also announced in June, the company appointed Toronto-based regulatory and criminal lawyer Chris Murphy to its Advisory Board. The addition of Murphy not only brings his knowledge of the law as a former drug prosecutor to the table; but, as a board member of Star Produce Ltd, Canada’s largest distributor of fruits and vegetables, brings his expertise that is positioned to play a key role in licensing and production. “Chris 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.” said Ferreira. Once licensed, the company, thanks to the Murphy appointment, has strengthened their potential to secure growing and distribution agreements.

Furthermore, in May, software industry veteran Andrew Steane, who will act as advisor in the areas of software infrastructure, business analytics and partnerships, joined the company’s advisory board. “We are pleased to welcome Mr. Steane to our advisory board and look forward to his contributions to grow our company,” said Beleave CEO Roger Ferreira. “Beyond his information technology knowledge, Mr. Steane’s multi-disciplinary business experience will help us navigate this new breakthrough industry.”

So far, thirty companies have been approved by Health Canada for medical marijuana production and distribution. The Ontario-based company aims to join this list by becoming a licensed producer under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations. Beleave’s wholly-owned subsidiary, First Access Medical Inc., has applied for a license to cultivate and sell medical marijuana at its facility pursuant to the MMPR outlined by Health Canada. The subsidiary has successfully completed the security clearance stage and is currently under licensing review. Furthermore, in March, First Access Medical signed a memo of understanding with Ryerson University to enter into a collaborative drug standardization research project, with the goal of developing high-quality medicinal marijuana extracts. Extract research is well underway, with news or results expected to be released to the market within the next few months.

An increase in marijuana advocacy, along with success stories following legalization, notably Colorado’s taxed marijuana sales totaling $260 million within the the first 90 days of 2016, has not only made the subject of legal marijuana an increasingly accepted and popular view; but, has also given rise to an intriguing business sector. With its plan to legalize marijuana in 2017, Canadian marijuana businesses are taking steps to assure their piece of the multi-billion dollar pie. Beleave’s recent efforts secure a solid leadership team with expertise and connections across a number of crucial business sectors not only aims to position the company at the forefront of Canada’s emerging legal marijuana industry; Beleave is poised to be moving in the right direction towards receiving a license with the announcement of a pre-licence inspection being the next catalyst to the share price.

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