A Maple Ridge marijuana company is going public with an injection of cash from a venture capitalist.
Remo Cannabrands’ half-million dollar partnership with Gold Finder Explorations will see it expand from a home-based business to 10,000-sq.-ft. warehouse.
Remo Colasanti is the brain behind Remo Cannabrands, which sells nutrients to legal marijuana producers but has plans to create a new line of marijuana-infused edibles, beverages and tinctures.
“We’ve been making batches literally in our garage and can’t keep up with the demand for our nutrients,” said Sandra Colasanti, Remo’s wife.
These are heady times for those looking to cash in on marijuana’s growing acceptance.
Washington state and Colorado have legalized the recreational use of pot for adults while medical marijuana is currently legal in Canada as well as 18 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.
The Marijuana Business Factbook estimates that the retail marijuana industry in the U.S. could see an estimated $7.4 to $8.2 billion in sales by 2018.
Remo Colasanti has been growing medical-grade cannabis for almost 15 years.
He began producing episodes of “Urban Grower” on YouTube in 2006 to share his expertise with other medical marijuana patients and has since attracted a dedicated following, clocking more than 30 million views on his two YouTube channels.
He has also won 13 awards in nine international cannabis competitions, placing first in 2013 at Spannabis in Spain and second in 2012 at the Cannabis Cup Awards in Amsterdam.
Remo Cannabrands intends to sell its line of nutrients worldwide but will focus on the U.S. as a market for its edible products.
The nutrients will be produced in Maple Ridge while the infused edible side of the business will be based in the U.S.
Sandra Colasanti said they decided to team up with Gold Finder Explorations because current U.S. regulations around packaging, labelling and testing make it hard for small “mom and pop” operations to compete.
Companies such as Gold Finder, whose previous ventures included a mine, are more accustomed to taking risks, she added.
Gold Finder CEO Neil Linder characterizes the legal marijuana industry as “the biggest opportunity of our times.”
“This is like prohibition coming off alcohol,” said Linder, based in Kelowna.
“The Kennedys, the Bronfmans, all the richest families in the world made their money off rum running.”
Currently, only two companies make up the majority of the marijuana edibles market share in the U.S. Limited to operating in Colorado, Linder says the companies have projected sales of $50 million in 2014.
“We have this opportunity because of the way marijuana is getting legalized to become a brand in the edibles business without having to face-off against multinationals.”
Going public will allow Remo Cannabrands to raise money and buy smaller companies already in the edible business as it expands into the U.S. “Every big company in the world wants to get into this business,” said Linder.
“This is our opportunity in our generation which is why there is so much money chasing the industry.”
Remo Cannabrands will begin trading on the TSX Venture Exchange in 120 days.
Agrima still waiting on Health Canada licence
Almost a year after it set up shop in Maple Ridge, Agrima Botanicals has yet to receive a licence from Health Canada to produce medical marijuana commercially.
The federal agency has approved 13 commercial licences thus far but is swamped under a deluge of applications as companies try to cash in the predicted boom.
As of the end of June, it had received 858 applications.
Jordan Winnett with Agrima said the facility has been pre-approved and is currently waiting for a site visit from Health Canada, which is the final step in the process.
Health Canada’s new regulation outlawing personal growing took effect April 1, but a last-minute court reprieve has thrown a wrench into the Conservative government’s pot reform plans.
In March, Federal Court Judge Michael Manson granted a temporary injunction allowing people with a personal production licence to continue to grow medical pot, pending the outcome of a constitutional challenge still to be heard.
“The process has been extremely slow since the March injunction, with no company being approved for a few months now,” said Winnett.
“But, we remain on course and ready to help patients and enter the market when it’s our time.”
Update: As of July 2, Health Canada has received 938 applications.
Of these, 423 applications have been returned because they were incomplete, 166 were refused and 34 applications were withdrawn. The department is currently reviewing 294 applications and has issued 21 licences.