8 April 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
As the recently-appointed Chairman of the Board for Halo Labs Inc., I hope to bring a whole new dimension to the burgeoning cannabis industry. Growing up as a black woman in South Africa, a country with oppressive and discriminatory laws, I have worked hard to overcome many of the inherent challenges. Just some of these are the lack of opportunities for career advancement, difficulties accessing capital, resources, networks and mentoring, and notoriously unequal pay. I particularly applaud the perseverance of all women who, despite the challenges, have managed not only to advance but to thrive, both in the private sector and other spheres of the economy, while retaining their feminine qualities of empathy, compassion and teamwork.
And one of the first black women to lead a publicly traded cannabis business, in an industry traditionally dominated by men, I strongly believe that companies are best served when men and women are both represented, each bringing their own strengths to the table to make the most of the opportunities out there.
While there are still some issues to be resolved, there’s no doubt that the cannabis industry offers an enormous opportunity. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that cannabis, especially the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD), is extremely effective at treating many health challenges, without the side effects of traditional pharmaceuticals.
Its credibility is likely to be further enhanced by the upcoming NHS clinical trial in the UK, which will study the effects of Cannabis-Based Products for Medicinal Use (CBPMs) on up to 20,000 patients. Although medicinal cannabis was legalised in the UK in 2018, this research will help to address lingering concerns around safety and addictiveness. It should also pave the way for appropriate legislation, in the UK and other countries, to resolve ongoing issues of quality, consistency and access in the rapidly growing cannabis market.
In fact, the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) predicts that by 2024, the UK medical cannabis market alone will be worth close to £1bn (US$1.3bn)1. That’s not taking into account CBD-based health and wellness products or the even more lucrative (and currently illegal) market for recreational cannabis. Based on the experience of countries like Canada and Portugal, which are ahead of the curve in terms of legalisation, all these markets are expected to expand exponentially when cannabis is legalised for general use in the UK. Experts predict this is likely to happen in the next five to ten years, if not sooner.
With this in mind, Halo recently acquired Canmart, one of only four UK companies with a Home Office Licence to import CBPMs into the UK. Canmart’s 30,000-square-foot storage and distribution facility in England is the ideal base from which to distribute throughout Europe, complementing our existing holdings which include some of the largest growsites in North America and Africa. Complementary services between Bophelo and Canmart will ensure our strategy of “seeds to sale” as Bophelo will grow, cultivate, manufacture and export to Canmart for distribution.
On the African continent, we estimate that, with the relevant legislation in place, the market for the cannabis industry could reach around $57 billion by 2027. As one of the first companies to establish a footprint there through our recent acquisition of Bophelo Bioscience and Wellness in Lesotho, Halo will have the first-mover advantage.
Our buy-out of Bophelo includes access to 200,000 hectares of growsite, the largest so far across the globe. Lesotho, a mountainous region bordered by South Africa, was the first African country to legalise both the cultivation and manufacturing of medical cannabis and it offers ideal conditions, experienced growers and a plentiful supply of labour. Lesotho will also serve as a convenient gateway to export high quality medicinal cannabis into neighbouring countries, as well as into the European, Australian and Israeli markets.
Halo is perfectly placed to take advantage of our operational licence in Lesotho, leading the field in modern cannabis extraction, cannabinoid isolation and developing innovative products. Our proprietary science-based techniques and leading edge technology will ensure that the finished product complies with the standards of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) of the UN, as well as to international protocols such as Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) and, eventually, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
The Lesotho business isn’t just about profits for Halo though. During my years studying at the National University of Lesotho and working at the Lesotho National Development Corporation, I saw first-hand the desperate need in the country. My hope is that Halo will help spark a “fourth industrial revolution” there, contributing towards the economy and providing many of those much-needed jobs. In 2010, as part of my personal mission to make a difference in Lesotho, I established a non-profit development trust for underprivileged women and children, and I plan to continue that work through Halo and Bophelo, which will contribute 10% of its pre-tax earnings to the trust.
There’s no doubt that cannabis will have a huge impact on the medical and wellness industries going forward. Our investment into Southern Africa’s cannabis industry is just one example of the enormous potential for future growth in this market – and the good that can be done in the process if you care about people as well as profits. Halo is positioning itself not only to make a healthy profit but also to be part of a sustainable cannabis economy that brings hope to many people with no other options.