Houston, San Antonio Medical Cannabis Companies Plan New Joint Venture
With a new law on their side, a JV between San Antonio-based cannabis cultivation experts, Vermont-based researchers and a Houston-based engineering firm are putting Texas at the forefront of biomedical cannabidiol research.
Houston-based Indoor Harvest Corp, a design-build vertical farming engineering firm, and Alamo CBD, a San Antonio-based cannabidiol (CBD) production company, are in talks to combine the companies and spin off Indoor Harvest's vertical farming operations. Alamo has signed an agreement with Delaware-based Vyripharm Enterprises to form a JV for pharmaceutical cannabinoids research.
The goal: Cancer treatments.
Under the proposed joint venture, Alamo will supply pure medical cannabis oil/product to Vyripharm to provide specific chemical profiles needed for Vyripharm’s research and patient treatments. Alamo will use Indoor Harvest’s patent pending bio-manufacturing platform for cultivation. Alamo's business plan is to use 10 acres, with water rights, near La Vernia, TX, to construct an 18k SF cannabidiol pharmaceutical production facility.
The operation won't produce the recreational THC-heavy "high"-inducing form of cannabis. High levels of CBD, not THC, is the goal here. Much is still to be learned about CBD, but Vyripharm’s director of scientific public relations Dr. Elias Jackson said, “Early studies have shown a positive impact on certain resistant forms of cancer ... Based on the strength of these early studies, we believe that medical cannabis will play a vital role in the treatment regimen addressing a range of cancers, and that Texas and the Texas Medical Center could become a focal point for this important research.”
How is this cannabis-related business happening in Texas, legally speaking? The Texas Compassionate Use Act, which went into effect June 1, 2015, requires the DPS to license at least three dispensing organizations by Sept. 1, 2017. With state-of-the-art cultivation techniques, high-tech vertical farming, and clinical research and testing, the Alamo/Indoor Harvest joint venture aims to be one of those three.
Cannabis has been used in cancer treatment for thousands of years, but only recently have scientists begun to understand its subtle effects. Pre-clinical research (including both cell culture and animal models) with CBD has had a range of effects that may be therapeutically useful, including anti-seizure, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-tumor, anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety properties. More rigorous clinical studies are still needed to evaluate clinical potential for specific conditions. That's where the new JV comes in.
Alamo/Indoor Harvest's operation seeks to solve major problems in clinical research: supply and consistency. Medical science is rigorous and precise, and research surrounding CBD is too often compromised by inconsistent strains, inconsistent quality and an overall lack of supply. If the new operation gets off the ground (literally; it grows aeroponically, see above), its effect on biomedical research could be profound, offering researchers the control to achieve a much more professional level of reputable clinical research.
To that end, Vyripharm has entered into sponsored research agreements for its core platforms with the University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston – Institute of Molecular Medicine Sponsored Research and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. There is also an agreement with the National Institute of Drug Abuse and pending agreements with Baylor College of Medicine and the VA Hospital in Houston.
Alamo plans to file an application with the DEA and register to become an authorized producer of medical cannabis and medical cannabis extracts for pharmaceutical research and clinical trials across the US.
The medical industry's excitement about the potential of CBD is tempered by the national regulatory environment. To date, 23 states and DC have passed laws allowing cannabis to be used for a variety of medical conditions. Fifteen additional states have enacted laws (such as the Texas Compassionate Use Act) intended to allow access to CBD oil and high-CBD strains of marijuana.
But despite proven medical benefits and its potential given further research, the DEA still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 Narcotic, as dangerous as heroin or bath salts, with "no accepted medical use."
Still, the "green rush," as it's known, is growing rapidly. According to data from Arcview Market Research, the North American legal market grew by an unprecented 30% in 2016 to $6.7B. Arcview's new editor-in-chief, Tom Adams, told Forbes, "The only consumer industry categories I've seen reach $5B in annual spending and then post anything like 25% compound annual growth in the next five years are cable television (19%) in the 1990s and the broadband internet (29%) in the 2000s."