Lesotho is the first African country ever to regulate medical cannabis. Now, it is also the first African country to ship out medical cannabis to Canada.
Lesotho-based cannabis producer Medi Kingdom Holdings has sent its first shipment of medical cannabis to Canada on March 26 and the 850-gram shipment is expected to arrive in the coming days in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver-based Anandia Laboratories will receive the medical cannabis and perform analytical testing on it on behalf of an anonymous client.
After Anandia issues a Certificate of Analysis, the medical cannabis is most likely going to be used for research and development.
About Medi Kingdom
Medi Kingdom is the first and the largest licensed producer of medical cannabis in Africa. The privately held company started growing their first cannabis crop in 2016 and they currently operate from three locations in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. This landlocked mountainous South African country is known for its high-quality cannabis growing environment, including an ideal climate, an ideal terrain, and its unique local cannabis strains.
Medi Kingdom and Rhizo Sciences
Medi Kingdom entered into an exclusive off-take agreement with American company Rhizo Sciences. The Seattle, Washington-based Rhizo Sciences specializes in the science of cannabis production and helps companies develop high quality cannabis flowers and extracts.
Rhizo is partnering with Medi Kingdom to design, construct and manage a $45-million, 400,000-square-foot export facility in Lesotho in order to meet the growing global demand for medical cannabis.
The export facility is going to include a 375,000-square-foot secure climate-controlled greenhouse and a 25,000-square-foot pharmaceutical-grade extraction and manufacturing plant on a 20-hectare site.
Moreover, Rhizo will purchase the new facility’s entire production output, which is going to exceed 35,000 kg of cannabis flower every year. The new facility will also export $150-million to $200- million worth of wholesale cannabis flowers and extracts, and manufacturing pharmaceutical-grade products annually.
Rhizo’s president and co-founder, Dallas McMillan, said that Rhizo is in talks with Canadian vertically integrated cannabis companies to supply them with medical cannabis.
According to McMillan, these exports demonstrate the companies’ production and export capability and they are hoping that this would open the channels for their commercial production later this year.
In fact, he said they already have Canadian buyers lined up, although they all want a Certificate of Analysis issued by a certified laboratory before any deal can be struck.
Lesotho’s medical cannabis market
Lesotho’s 2008 Drugs of Abuse Act was made into law with cannabis exports in mind. It provides opportunities for cannabis companies looking to do business in the country.
The 2008 law has set the stage for the country’s medical cannabis industry, which has taken off in the last two years and has attracted foreign investors.
In fact, aside from Rhizo, the country has attracted another significant international investor: Supreme Cannabis. The Canadian producer just entered into a deal to invest C$10 million ($7.7 million) for a 10-percent stake in Medigrow Lesotho.
Lesotho-based Medigrow and Toronto-based Supreme expect to export their cannabis products to Canada and to other international markets.
Attracting capital is one of Lesotho’s largest obstacles for cannabis businesses.
And while Lesotho has laboratories for health, agricultural, and natural products, there are no facilities to test medical cannabis. There are also no input suppliers for cannabis companies, including irrigation equipment, generators, greenhouses, nutrients and cannabis-specific fertilizers, farming equipment, and other general infrastructure needs, according to Medi Kingdom CFO Brian Kuo.
Despite these obstacles, though, many companies still expect Lesotho to act as a staging ground for their entry into other cannabis markets in Africa that offer more potential than Lesotho, including Ghana, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.