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First African company exports medical cannabis to Canada

Lesotho Medical Cannabis/Medical Marijuana News

Up until the end of 2016 very few people in the Cannabis industry had heard about the small country of Lesotho.

Lesotho, a high-altitude, landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa, is crisscrossed by a network of rivers and mountain ranges including the 3,482m-high peak of Thabana Ntlenyana. On the Thaba Bosiu plateau, near Lesotho’s capital, Maseru, are ruins dating from the 19th-century reign of King Moshoeshoe I. Thaba Bosiu overlooks iconic Mount Qiloane, an enduring symbol of the nation’s Basotho people.

Now MediKingdom Holdings, a relatively unknown company based in Lesotho, South Africa, has just sent the first-ever shipment of legal medical cannabis from Lesotho to Canada. And by doing so is fast becoming well-known in the global Cannabis industry. Medigrow is licensed by the Lesotho Ministry of Health to cultivate and manufacture medical cannabis and cannabis oil products.

The total amount of medical cannabis shipped to Canada from the land-locked country of South Africa was 850g.

Medi Kingdom Holdings is the first and largest licensed medical cannabis producer in Africa. It began growing its first crop in 2016 and currently operate from 3 sites in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, well known for its high quality cannabis growing environment.

No doubt there are plenty of buyers in Canada lined up, but of course they will naturally want a Certificate of Analysis from a certified lab before they will purchase the Cannabis plant material from Lesotho. This would explain why the first shipment was only 850g as it is a ‘sample’.

Rhizo Sciences, a Seattle-based company, has an exclusive off-take agreement with Lesotho-based producer Medi Kingdom Holdings. It said the medical cannabis will be used for research and development in Canada, only after it receives a certificate of analysis confirming that the quality is satisfactory.

Rhizo’s president and co-founder, Dallas McMillan, said his company is in talks to supply cannabis companies in Canada with medical cannabis grown in Lesotho. McMillan added that this successful export demonstrated their production and export capability so that they can open the channels for their commercial production later in the year.

Being the first African nation to begin awarding medical cannabis licences, Lesotho has naturally drawn a lot of interest and attention from international cannabis companies who are hoping to use it as a spring board to meet demand in neighbouring African markets like South Africa, as well as overseas.

Toronto-based Supreme Cannabis recently also announced plans to invest over $7 million in Medigrow Lesotho thereby acquiring a 10% stake. This investment is making noise globally sparking even more interest in a once relatively unknown company and country.

Supreme Cannabis is a Canadian publicly traded company committed to becoming a leading cultivator and distributor of sun grown cannabis through its wholly-owned subsidiary 7ACRES. It expects strong demand to exceed supply for medical cannabis oil globally and believes Lesotho is well suited to produce quality cannabis oil and Medigrow possesses the expertise to meet the highest quality standards. The cannabis oil will be produced by Medigrow in Lesotho and subject to all government, and international regulatory approvals, the oil will be exported to Canada and other international markets.

Last year licensed South African producer Verve Dynamics, an investee of Aphria International Inc, announced plans to grow both hemp and cannabis for export to Canada.

THC BioMed, another Canadian cannabis company, has also expressed interest in Lesotho.

Lesotho is getting a lot of international attention and exposure of late since it began issuing licences to cultivate cannabis. This has to do with the favourable environment for cultivating cannabis and possibly even be due to the fact it has special landrace strains which the Canadians don’t have, and this could be of interest as a unique strain with the right Cannabinoid percentage could mean profit.

Other countries in Africa where medical cannabis laws are slowly changing include Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Swaziland.

Whatever the future holds for Lesotho, one thing is certain, they are definitely going to enjoy reaping the benefits of this first mover advantage.

The South African government needs to swiftly begin issuing licences for medicinal cannabis so that they too can begin establishing a footprint in the viable cannabis market and explore its own landrace strains for research.

Lesotho Medical Cannabis Producers

Medi Kingdom is Africa’s first and largest licensed medical cannabis producer.

It is located in Lesotho, a landlocked mountainous country inside South Africa.

Lesotho is a major traditional grower of cannabis on the African continent and has an ideal climate to cultivate cannabis and unique local strains found nowhere else in the world.

Medi kingdom is a privately held company with ties to the United Kingdom, including pharmaceutical and biotech industry partnerships. These partnerships make for a strategic alliance that will ensure the success of this venture.

Rhizo Sciences is working with Medi Kingdom to build and manage a 400,000 square foot export facility in Lesotho, Africa to meet the growing international demand for quality medical cannabis.

Rhizo Sciences will design, build and manage this new $45M facility for Medi Kingdom Holdings. Under the agreement it will also purchase the entire production output of the facility, which will exceed 35,000 kg of cannabis flower annually. This world class facility will export wholesale flower and extracts as well as manufacturing pharmaceutical grade products with an estimated wholesale value of $145M -$195M annually.

All products that are produced by the cGMP facility in Lesotho will be independently tested and certified for export markets by an independent GLP / ISO accredited laboratory to ensure all exports meet international export and importing country requirements.

In addition to the commercial cannabis projects in Lesotho, the company also operates its own charity, Medi Kingdom Foundation, which distributes food and medicine in partnership with NGO groups in Lesotho.

The photos below represent Medi Kingdom’s 2016/17 crop and location for the expanded facility to be completed in 2018.

Want to know more about Lesotho cannabis cultivation, history or licences then please click here.