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£20m Sicilian Firm Aims To Patent New Cannabis Medicines With Production To Begin in Weeks

SICILY-based Canapar – a vertically-integrated cannabis business – is set to begin producing its first CBD oils in the next few weeks.

This will be the culmination of over two years work for a business initially conceived with support from Canopy Growth founder Bruce Linton.

Canapar’s new extraction facility has the capability of processing two tonnes of biomass a day – making it one of Europe’s largest.

Sergio Martines, CEO of Canapar.

And, Canapar recently inked a strategic long-term partnership with Uruguay’s RAMM Pharma with the long-term goal of becoming global leaders in the pharmaceutical cannabinoid space.

Canopy Rivers Buy-Out

Sergio Martines, CEO, Canapar told BusinessCann its extraction facility will be begin operating in weeks. “Our commercial activity starts this month and will be targeted, at the cosmetics and food markets.

“Our goal since the beginning has been pharmaceutical industry and this can take a long time. 

“Our facility is close to securing EU-GMP compliance and we are working with four Italian universities on developing new cannabinoid formulations – and at present we are seeking patents for two cannabis medicines.

“RAMM was one of the first companies to register a CBD product at a pharmaceutical level that, for us, is a great thing. Both companies believe pharma is the way to go and our joint approach will take us deeper into the pharmaceutical space.”

As part of the strategic partnership, RAMM has acquired Canopy Rivers’ 49% ownership interest in Canapar. RAMM is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange.

 Industry ‘Veteran’

Half-Canadian, half-Italian Mr Martines was quickly into the cannabis industry as it developed in Canada from 2014 onwards.

In 2018 he created Canapar and secured $C25m (£15m) from Canopy Rivers after mapping out his vision to its CEO – and Canopy Growth CEO – Bruce Linton.

The initial goal was to establish a base in industrial hemp and CBD targeting the cosmetic and food industries before graduating up the value chain to the host of cannabinoids in a pharmaceutical setting.

Growing outdoors in sunny Southern Italy helps reduce costs and Mr Martines worked closely with local famers to establish a supply chain which now encompasses over 1,000 hectares under cultivation – equivalent to almost 2,000 football pitches.

Industry Needs More R&D

Earlier this year Canapar secured an additional C$7m (£4m) to compete the fully-automated extraction facility which becomes operational next month.

This will produce full-spectrum and isolate CBD and hemp oils which will go into the food and cosmetics markets and its own Marishanti CBD range.

Despite all of the strides of the last five years in the hemp and cannabis sector he says it is still lacking in the crucial component of R&D. 

It currently is working with four Italian universities on novel cannabinoids and is seeking two US patents, with more in the pipeline.

Mr Martines said: “We believe there is more and more to come from the plant and this is our strength. 

“We need more research to realise what all the cannabinoids are, and what they can do. As we do this we will establish our own products, our own effective medicines and our own patents. 

The Canapar extraction facility.

“There are different pathologies that cannabinoids are effective for and different conditions for which cannabinoids can be used. We are looking to develop APIs to help in the treatment of these conditions.”

KanaVape Boost To Industry

Following the KanaVape decision and the positive outcome of last Autumn’s Italian CBD hiatus Mr Martines believes the momentum is with the industry.

This feel-good factor is also apparent in the Sicilian farming community around Canapar’s hometown in Ragusa, towards the south of the island.

When Canapar first arrived on the island there were only some 300 to 400 hectares of hemp under cultivation both in Sicily and southern Italy.

But with the help of the agronomy team of the University of Catania and Canapar there are now more than 1,000 hectares planted.

Mr Martines added: “Our goal is to extract and making API pharmaceuticals with our partner RAMM. We are following our own path. We have our own plan and we are very happy with where we are today,” said Mr Martines.

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