Article by Phil Wong, High! Canada
Sometimes I love my job, so when someone calls me out to tour a Licensed Producer facility and interview a cannabis scientist; this is one of those times! Today, I am fortunate enough to sit down and chat with Roger Ferreira, Chief Science Officer (Director). Thanks for the tour! Great facility you have here. So, you have a lot of things going on, but just curious what is the main Beleave principle that separates you from other LP’s?
Our main principle is that we are masters of our craft! We have a strong drive and passion to develop a legacy for Beleave! The talent that we have on our team brings over 20 years of combined expertise in medicinal cannabis cultivation, including master growers that have a deep knowledge of how to carefully tailor nutrient delivery and environmental conditions throughout each stage of the plant growth cycle, to maximize yield and the desired cannabinoid output. Importantly, we have set up our operations to allow our growers to employ a craft grow approach, producing small-size batches of product from carefully sourced genetics, as well as implementing precision plant selection and breeding efforts, which we feel will allow us to develop a stock of some of the highest quality plant phenotypes currently available in the Canadian market. Each and every strain that is propagated will be carefully optimized in terms of the flavor, aroma, and cannabinoid/terpene profile. Marrying a scientific approach involving precision control of plant characteristics like yield and cannabinoid production, with years of unparalleled experience from some of the best growers in the country and we hope this will set Beleave apart in terms of product quality.
And what has Beleave been up to? You have a lot of things happening.
Currently, under our financing and expansion plans, Beleave has in place a definitive agreement with Cannabis Wheaton (CBW), whereby CBW will provide Beleave with up to $10,000,000 in non-dilutive debt financing by way of an instrument evidencing a debt obligation repayable in product equivalents (the “D.O.P.E. Note”). The proceeds of the D.O.P.E. Note will be used by Beleave to fund the construction of a ~70,000 sq ft expansion facility which will be situated adjacent to Beleave’s current facility outside of Hamilton, Ontario.
Beleave is also the exclusive Licensed Producer partner of the “Don’t Drive Hi” campaign. The campaign serves to educate the public, and in particular, youth, of the potential public health and safety risks of driving while under the influence of marijuana. The campaign acknowledges that the public may be free to use cannabis if the government legalizes its use on July 1, 2018 yet it seeks for potential consumers to acknowledge and recognize that it is, in fact, a state-ofmind altering substance. All substances that alter the consciousness of a person behind the wheel, do in-fact- to varying degrees, impair judgement. To-date Beleave and R.I.D.E have launched a successful mini-campaign during the summer of 2017 and will roll out 4 additional larger campaigns as we near the date of legalization. On November 23rd, it will be the official launch of the R.I.D.E program and should feature a substantial media presence for its awareness. The launch will consist of 200 police officers and various stakeholders during a press conference. The main contributors to the campaign are R.I.D.E checks, OPP, Toronto Police, ad agency BBDO, Licensed producer Beleave Inc. and cannabis media company Herb.co. The location is still to be determined.
We have lot of things going on with the latest in Innovation and Product Development. Currently, we are in collaboration with plant evolutionary ecologist Dr. Lesley Campbell, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University, Beleave is developing new Cannabis sativa breeding tools (funded by an NSERC CRD grant awarded to Dr. Campbell). This research project aims to expand existing work on Campbell’s quantitative genetic models into new precision breeding efforts for Cannabis. These advanced genetic models have already identified novel gene markers involved in the expression of cannabidiol (CBD). By combining proteomic and genetic tools, this new project aims to further identify and characterize the genetic traits in Cannabis that control the inheritance and production of cannabinoids, including but not limited to CBD. Once models of cannabinoid inheritance have been fully characterized, and subject to regulatory approvals, the Campbell lab plans to design breeding programs that make use of these newly identified molecular factors to control cannabinoid production. These tools provide an exciting way of developing new plant strains under the Beleave brand. In addition to plant breeding and genetics, Beleave is also actively working on cannabinoid extraction, isolation, and drug standardization research with Ryerson University, with the goal of developing highly purified formulations of medicinal compounds. For this research, Beleave is working with a senior analytical biochemist and professor from the Ryerson University Department of Chemistry and Biology to develop methods for extraction and purification of cannabinoids. Beleave and Dr. Marshall recently completed an Engage-funded project where methods for cannabinoid extraction and quantification have been developed, and a patent application to protect this method is being submitted. Beleave believes that this research will have potential applications for future industrial-level processes suitable for partnering with cannabinoid food and drug delivery technologies. Beleave and research partners are making use of the Ryerson University Analytical Center (RUAC) to develop methods for compound extraction and purification, as well as to develop an in-house method for identification and quantification of medicinal compounds for drug standardization and quality assurance purposes.
And lastly, Beleave is working with Dr. Michael Rogers to partner Beleave’s cannabinoid extraction methods which will develop novel cannabinoid food and drug delivery systems for oral administration using lipid-based nano-systems, and to characterize the bioavailability / absorption of these novel products. Dr. Rogers is an Associate Professor in the Department of Food Sciences at the University of Guelph, and the holder of a Canada Research Chair in Food Nanotechnology. The goal of this research will be the development of proprietary cannabinoid food and drug delivery system with optimized bioavailability and shelf-life properties compared to currently available cannabis products. Drug development will be geared towards the current medicinal cannabis market, while food development will be geared towards the upcoming adult recreational market.
Thank you for your time and the tour Roger! You have a lot of interesting research going on, so please keep me posted on some of those results as I would love to update our readers on your progress.