NEW YORK, March 21, 2019 /CNW/ -- As the cannabis market continues to grow, more clinical trials and research studies have been taken up in order to further understand the plant and its biological makeup. Medical institutions such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have begun to cover the medical sector of the cannabis industry. In a FAQ, the CDC noted that the marijuana plant is linked to treating symptoms associated with some health problems. However, the CDC also mentioned that there isn't enough large-scale research being done in order to consider cannabis as a registered medicine. The NIH also says that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires studies with hundreds to thousands of human subjects in order to determine the benefits and risks of a possible medication. However, despite the lack of large-scale research, the FDA has already approved a cannabis-based drug, Epidiolex. The orally ingested drug was approved for patients that are two years or older who suffer from Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Dravet syndrome is a genetic dysfunction in the brain and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is a form of epilepsy that results in multiple types of seizures, both of which occur during early childhood. The FDA has also approved synthetic versions of some cannabinoid chemicals. With the approval of Epidiolex, many believe that the FDA could possibly move to approve more cannabis-based drugs to treat other medical applications such as cancer or chronic pain. According to data compiled by Energias Market Research, the global medical marijuana market is expected to grow from USD 8.28 Billion in 2017 to USD 28.07 Billion by 2024. Additionally, the market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 19.1% during the forecast period from 2018 to 2024. Pressure BioSciences, Inc. (OTC:PBIO - News), Village Farms International, Inc. (NYSE:VFF - News) (TSX:VFF.TO - News), Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. (OTC:HRVSF - News) (CSE:HARV), Youngevity International, Inc. (NASDAQ:YGYI - News), Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (OTC:CURLF - News) (CSE:CURA)
Cannabis is a family of plants that fall under two primary classifications, Indica and Sativa. Marijuana falls under either Indica or Sativa, while hemp falls solely within the Sativa family. However, both marijuana and hemp are derived from the Cannabis sativa family, but their genetic makeup causes very different effects. Marijuana is most commonly associated with the THC chemical compound, which causes a euphoric body high while hemp is primarily linked with CBD, which provides a more relaxing effect. Despite the difference, researchers believe that both compounds are effective in treating medical conditions. Due to THC psychoactive effects, it is more heavily regulated than CBD. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently moved to delist some cannabis-based medicines off the Schedule 1 list. The DEA now allows drugs including CBD with THC content below 0.1% along with FDA approval. In combination with the recent passage of the U.S. Farm Bill, which accelerates hemp cultivation, the CBD market is positioned to witness significant growth. "I have never seen anything like the explosion that we're seeing right now in CBD, even with the bizarre legal gray area where CBD now operates. A few years ago almost no one knew what hemp-derived CBD was, it was sold by mostly small brands of tinctures online and through head shops," said Brightfield Managing Director Bethany Gomez, "All of a sudden, CBD is everywhere - it is both a trendy, new ingredient in drinks, face creams and pet treats and an answer to the prayers of so many people suffering from medical conditions ranging from epilepsy to anxiety and chronic pain. It rides the waves of so many global food and health trends, as a substitute for opioids, towards more natural health alternatives and functional ingredients."
Pressure BioSciences, Inc. (OTCQB:PBIO - News) announced earlier last month that, "analytical testing on hemp-derived CBD oil processed via PBI's Ultra Shear Technology™ (UST™) platform has confirmed that UST processing uniquely achieves the challenging criteria for creating highly-effective "nanoemulsions" of CBD oil in water, without loss or modification of CBD throughout the entire UST process (> 99% recovery).
The ultimate goal in mixing oil-based nutritional and therapeutic products like CBD oil into water, for effective oral or topical delivery and absorption, is to reduce the size of the oil drops to such a level that they seemingly 'vanish' into the water (become "water soluble"). These exceedingly small, nanometer-scale droplets are so tiny that it becomes very easy for the human (or other animal) body to absorb the oil-based nutrients or drugs (like CBD) directly from the inner surface of the oil droplet. Traditional processing methods struggle mightily with this challenge, but PBI's proprietary UST platform uses ultra-high pressure to create extreme shearing forces to make nanometer-scale droplets of fluids that become highly-stable, homogenized "nanoemulsions" of materials that normally do not mix (e.g., CBD oil and water).
Dr. Vera Gross, Director of Applications Development at PBI, explained: 'We asked an independent, university-affiliated laboratory to determine the size of oil droplets achieved in UST-processed CBD oil, using a universally-accepted sizing method called DLS. Their analytical results revealed that the UST- processed oil drops were reduced to approximately 65 nm in size, well into the 20-200 nm range targeted for truly effective nanoemulsion delivery and absorption of nutrients and therapeutics, such as CBD (Nano- and Microscale Drug Delivery Systems, 2017).'
Dr. Gross continued: 'It was critically important to also demonstrate that CBD from hemp-derived CBD oil was not lost or modified during UST processing. For this we enlisted the help of scientists at NutraFuels, Inc. (OTCQB:NTFU - News), which has an FDA-inspected, highly-qualified analytical testing laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment and well-trained chemists with years of experience in laboratory testing.'
Mr. Cooper Dodd, R&D Scientist at NTFU, said: 'Using a powerful laboratory method called HPLC to measure the concentrations of CBD and potential impurities, we determined that no appreciable amount of CBD was lost during the UST process. These results compare well to our standard processing method of ultrasonication, which can carry a risk of measurable loss of CBD, and sometimes creates the appearance of impurities if not performed properly. While there is more work to be done, as a nutraceutical manufacturer with products already on the market, we see these results as a robust leap towards better optimization of our CBD-enhanced products.'
Dr. Keith Warriner, Professor of Food Science at the University of Guelph (Toronto), and a recognized expert in the cannabis industry, commented: 'The data released today on UST-generated nanoemulsions of CBD oil are very impressive. Creating nanoemulsions of CBD oil with full preservation of CBD throughout the process, while not generating impurities, remains a significant challenge in the industry. These data indicate that UST can achieve that goal, thereby offering great promise to the future.'
Professor Warriner continued: 'Not only does the UST process appear capable of achieving stability of emulsions, but the controlled heating that also occurs may offer a valid alternative to thermal and non-thermal pasteurization methods to reduce the risk of harmful microbes in products such as edibles and topicals. I believe that CBD-infused topicals and similar products will prove more popular with users than edibles. However, to be successful, it is imperative that topicals be highly stable, safe, bioavailable, and readily absorbent nanoemulsions. After consideration of the data released today, the UST process appears to be a leading candidate to fill that important need.'
Dr. Bradford A. Young, Chief Commercial Officer of PBI, summarized: 'We were delighted to release a short video last week showing the ability of our new UST platform to make visually clear and stable mixtures of CBD oil and water. The scientific data released today have further validated the achievement of creating high quality, nanoemulsion mixtures of oil and water using our UST platform. In particular, these data specifically show that CBD levels are preserved all the way through UST processing to the finished product. We are very excited by these results and believe our proprietary Ultra Shear Technology can help a diverse variety of customers to develop a vast array of new and beneficial products spanning multiple large markets, including CBD and nutraceuticals, cosmetics and topicals, food and beverages, drug delivery and more.'"
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Village Farms International, Inc. (NYSE:VFF - News) (TSX:VFF.TO - News) is one of the largest and longest-operating vertically integrated greenhouse growers in North America and the only publicly traded greenhouse produce company in Canada. Village Farms International, Inc. recently announced that it had entered into an agreement with Nature Crisp LLC to form a joint venture for the outdoor cultivation of high cannabidiol (CBD) hemp and CBD extraction in multiple states throughout the United States. The joint venture, Village Fields Hemp, will be 65% owned by Village Farms and 35% owned by Nature Crisp. Nature Crisp is a private, Georgia based farming operation and part of the Jennings agricultural group of companies, which grows a diverse range of food and other crops, including hemp, on more than 6,000 acres in the U.S. and Canada. "Jennings Group is a pioneer in hemp cultivation and this joint venture establishes a new powerhouse in hemp cultivation that significantly advances Village Farms' vertically integrated CBD strategy," said Michael DeGiglio, Chief Executive Officer, Village Farms. "As 10 the generation farmers since Gideon (Zanini) Jennings immigrated to South Carolina in 1736, Jennings Group brings deep knowledge in large-scale field agriculture across a vast array of crops, with a proven track record of genetic optimization and innovation. Over the past several years, they have rapidly become a leading authority on hemp cultivation, renowned for their understanding of the plant and their success applying their cultural and genetic expertise to meaningfully improve CBD content and yield. Moreover, the Jennings Group team brings extensive relationships with the farming community across the U.S., as well as with geneticists, academics and researchers, that will be invaluable to the success of this new business."
Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. (OTCQX:HRVSF - News) (CSE:HARV) is one of the first consistently profitable, vertically integrated cannabis companies with one of the largest footprints in the U.S. Harvest Health & Recreation, Inc. recently announced that it has entered into a binding agreement to acquire Verano Holdings, LLC, an arm's length third party, one of the largest privately held multi-state, vertically integrated licensed operator of cannabis facilities, in an all-stock transaction for an estimated purchase price of approximately USD 850,000,000 based on a share price of CAD 8.79. Verano develops and produces a well-rounded suite of limited edition, lifestyle cannabis products, which offer superior medicinal therapies and inspirational product options. Verano Holdings distributes cannabis concentrates, edibles, extracts, flower and topicals, many in precision-dosed THC and CBD formulations The combined company will be one of the largest multi-state operators in the U.S., as measured by licenses held and facilities permitted. Upon completion of the transaction and regulatory approval, Harvest will hold licenses that will allow it to operate up to 200 facilities in 16 states and territories across the country, including 123 retail dispensaries. Following completion of the transaction, the combined company is expected to be operating 30 dispensaries, eight cultivation facilities and seven manufacturing facilities, with expected further aggressive operational expansion. By the end of 2019, Harvest expects to have over 70 dispensaries, 13 cultivation facilities and 13 manufacturing facilities in operation. The Company expects continued growth in 2020. "The combination with Verano fits perfectly with our vision of creating the world's most valuable cannabis company," said Jason Vedadi, Executive Chairman of Harvest. "We are confident that this is an opportunity to continue to leverage each of our company's strengths and drive continued shareholder value, while at the same time achieving the scale we know will give us a leadership position in one of the largest cannabis markets in the world."
Youngevity International, Inc. (NASDAQ:YGYI - News), is a leading omni-direct lifestyle company offering a hybrid of the direct selling business model, that also offers e-commerce and the power of social selling. Youngevity International, Inc. recently announced the expansion of its HEMPFX line with the launch of two new hemp-derived cannabidiol products: HempFX™ Hydration™ – Sleep and HempFX™ Hydration™ – Pure. Both products are expected to be available in November of this year. These tablet-based products will be used with Youngevity's Y-DR8+ proprietary, portable water bottle system designed to help provide great tasting water and reduce chemicals found in tap water. The Y-DR8 filter features (ACC) activated carbon cloth and is portable to fit today's "on-the-go lifestyle." The cannabidiol tablets will be housed above the water line and consumed as the water flows over the tablets. HempFX™ Hydration™ – Sleep combines melatonin with organic, full spectrum, hemp-derived cannabidiol oil in a proprietary beverage enhancement tablet. Hemp Hydration Sleep is formulated to help sleep patterns to provide a restful night's sleep with the health benefits of CBD. "This bottle system is intended to provide people with a revolutionary point-of-use water system for great-tasting water and enables consumers to customize tap water based upon their health and wellness needs. It is a beverage technology that we expect will have broad consumer appeal and we are extremely excited to combine this technology with the benefits of hemp-based CBD," stated Rick Anson, Vice President of Innovation and Emerging Markets of Youngevity.
Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX:CURLF - News) (CSE:CURA), a leading vertically integrated cannabis operator in the United States. Curaleaf, Inc. recently announced the launch of Curaleaf Hemp, a line of premium hemp-based CBD products. Curaleaf Hemp was developed by an experienced team of scientists and product experts. The natural, non-intoxicating products meet the strictest quality standards and are derived from hemp farmed in the United States. Curaleaf Hemp's products are made with simple, natural ingredients and are infused with essential oils such as lavender, lemon, jasmine, ginger and vanilla to add an additional layer of benefits for overall wellness. "Expanding our presence within the industry and entering the consumer goods marketplace with Curaleaf Hemp is an exciting step for the company," said Joe Lusardi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Curaleaf. "Patients already trust and rely on Curaleaf for the highest-quality medical cannabis products and we have taken that same care with the development of Curaleaf Hemp. Supporting overall wellness, Curaleaf Hemp is a consistent and reliable line of hemp-based CBD products that consumers can trust. We expect this to become a significant economic contributor to our business in the years to come."
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