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Cannasouth harvests 1st crop of medicinal research cannabis

Cannasouth has harvested its first crop of medicinal research cannabis from its purpose-built growing facility in Hamilton.

Cannasouth founders Mark Lucas and Nic Foreman have been growing industrial hemp varieties outdoors since 2002. However, this harvest is significant because of the high THC (tetrahydrocannabidiol) and CBD (cannabidiol) content of the plants, which are grown indoors under tight security.

Until now, Cannasouth has been conducting its research using raw high-grade THC-rich cannabis flower from the Netherlands - imported under a special licence from the Ministry of Health.

Cannasouth CEO Mark Lucas says the harvest is a significant milestone for the company in its efforts to develop quality cannabinoid formulations ready for human efficacy and drug delivery-controlled trials.

“Having our own growing facility at our back door means we have had complete control over the entire growing process to ensure we cultivate the highest-quality cannabis flowers for our R&D programmes. It also means we have access to plants when we need them so our research is not hampered by any delays.”

Cannasouth grows a range of cultivars at its Hamilton growing facility, which will be harvested at various times of the year depending on the demands of its research. Some of the cannabinoids needed may be more prevalent in plants later in the flowering stage.

Plants from Cannasouth’s first harvest were sown as seeds, before being planted as seedlings 10-12 weeks ago. They will now be hung and air-dried in a controlled environment.

“Once the plants are dried, they are packaged ready for delivery to our team of scientists at Innovation Park in Hamilton,” says Mr Lucas. “Their work then focuses on investigating methods of extraction, fractionation and purification, and studying cannabinoid degradation and stability profiles.

“What this means is that we will be able to develop the highest quality medicinal cannabis products, which are fit for purpose and have a long shelf life.

“Even though plants from our cultivation facility can’t be used to manufacture products until the Government’s medicinal cannabis access scheme comes into effect in 2020, this first harvest is an important step in our research and development efforts.”

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis and has been associated with managing a range of medical conditions, including cancer-related symptoms and neurological disorders such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

Mr. Lucas says CBD and THC are two of the more well-known compounds in medicinal cannabis that have been shown to relieve patients’ suffering from a wide range of conditions. However, there is significant potential to learn more about the properties of other rarer compounds and how they can assist in treating medical conditions.

“We know current medicinal cannabis medicines are helping a lot of people. This first harvest will give our research the fillip it needs to unlock more treatment options to further improve patient outcomes.”

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