Vancouver, Canada-based medical cannabis science firm Veritas Pharma Inc. (CSE: VRT; OTC: VRTHF; and Frankfurt: 2VP) will soon begin human trials in Puerto Rico to test its lead cannabis product CTL-X, a proprietary cannabis strain with demonstrated evidence of reducing acute pain. CTL-X has been under pre-clinical testing for two years by Veritas’ research arm, Cannevert Therapeutics Ltd., at the University of British Columbia.
Cannevert’s will work with the Fundación de Investigación (FDI) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the Institute for Medical Cannabis (IMC), the island’s leading licensed producer of medical cannabis. Both are ready for the trials once approved by the Department of Health of Puerto Rico. Dr. Scott Alexander, Veritas’ Medical Director said, “FDI not only has the right…competence, but has access to the ideal type of healthy volunteers…”
CTL-X is the first whole cannabis plant product that will be tested on the island. But Puerto Rico has a reputation as a strong pharmaceutical production center with a growing biotech presence. Other pharma companies have used the territory for research and manufacturing due to its infrastructure, skilled labor force, tax incentives, and access to the US market.
About 60% of Puerto Rico’s export is pharma-related, and over 25% of the country’s GDP comes from the pharma industry (Puerto Rico Report, 2017).
In 2015, Puerto Rico legalized medical cannabis to treat 14 pre-approved conditions including pain, HIV, cancer, multiple sclerosis, migraines, anxiety and epilepsy.
The initial target market for CTL-X is the estimated 26,000 Puerto Ricans who have paid $25 USD a year for a permit to use medical cannabis. Currently there are 65 medical cannabis establishments with license to operate (El Vocero, May 1, 2018).
Veritas Pharma Inc. is an emerging pharmaceutical and IP development company whose 100% owned subsidiary Cannevert Therapeutics Ltd. is attempting to advance the science behind medical cannabis. It aims to develop cannabis strains with proven scientific evidence of efficacy for pain, nausea, epilepsy and PTSD, solving a need for clinical data to support medical marijuana claims.
CTL uses a low-cost R&D model to drive value and speed-to-market. Its management team consists of veteran academic pharmacologists, anesthetists & chemists. The company plans to patent IP strains and sell or license them to cancer clinics, insurance industry and pharma, targeting a multi-billion-dollar market. Its stock trades on the OTC, CSE and Frankfurt exchanges.
Risk of Prosecution for Marijuana-Related Companies. If you are considering investing in a company that is connected to the marijuana industry, be aware that marijuana-related companies may be at risk of federal, and perhaps state, criminal prosecution. The Department of Treasury recently issued guidance noting: “[T]he Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) makes it illegal under federal law to manufacture, distribute, or dispense marijuana. Many states impose and enforce similar prohibitions. Notwithstanding the federal ban, as of the date of this guidance, 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized certain marijuana-related activity.”