Cloud 9 use their access to world class analytical laboratories, scientific expertise in medicinal plants & their therapeutic properties to provide premium finished cannabis products.
With two exciting years under their belt the small but highly experienced and successful team leading this innovative Swiss start-up hold an impressive Cannabis product portfolio in Prescription/OTC pharmaceuticals and food and beverage consumer products. With companies in Switzerland, Jamaica and France and its core market being Italy, Cloud 9 is now on the verge of commercialising cannabis products in several markets around the world notably North and South America, Asia and other EU countries.
The lightbulb moment came after the founder witnessed the change in Jamaica’s national legislation in 2015 allowing the birth of a new medical cannabis industry. With over 24 years of professional experience in the Phyto-pharmacy and food and beverage industries, the founder was first attracted to the multitude of medicinal plants as nearly 50% of the world’s medicinal plants are indigenous to Jamaica. Focusing on Cannabis for its therapeutic benefits and recognising the opportunity, Cloud 9 Switzerland LLC was born in July 2017.
Explore the business model
The initial and constant premise was to focus on the higher end of the Cannabis value chain developing only Premium finished products. Our other objective was to manage risk and time to cash flow. Leveraging on our core strengths in product development, regulatory, technical and scientific knowledge and our extensive professional network; we first focused our energies in the food and beverage space. This provides for a faster route to market leveraging on our experience with co-manufacturers and developing relations with reliable suppliers of cannabis producs. Our value added is to manage the sourcing, product formulation, finished product design and commercialisation retaining intellectual property.
Soon after, we then started developing and accessing Cannabinoid Rx/OTC Pharma products and negotiating agreements with partners which requires more time for approvals and generating cash flows. To date we have partnerships in Jamaica, Australia and Canada. In January 2019 we launched our first product which is a Cannabis Swiss Chocolate branded VIVA 100 at the International Sweets and Snacks Trade Fair ISM in Cologne Germany.
Structure of the company
Our headquarters is based in Lugano Switzerland, located within close proximity of the Italian border and the vast market of Italy which is currently the 2nd largest legal cannabis/hemp market in Europe after Germany. In May 2018, we also started Kenscan Jamaica Ltd in Kingston, Jamaica in order to act as a supply company for our business activities in Europe and to act on behalf of Cloud 9 Switzerland in Jamaica.
In this way we can build a bridge between Jamaica and Europe and leverage on Jamaica’s burgeoning Cannabis industry. Brand Jamaica is highly associated with recreational use however what most people do not know is that Jamaica is also the modern-day birthplace of Medical Cannabis thanks to visionary medical scientists such as Professor Manley West. We aim to ensure Jamaica is recognised for its high level of scientific contribution to the world. More recently in 2019, we have also started the registration of Cloud 9 France SAS in Nice France, to have a legal entity in the EU but also in anticipation of the legalisation of medical cannabis in France which will be one of the top three markets in Europe.
In this regard, just last December the appointed scientific committee of the French medicines agency Agence nationale de la sécurité du médicament (ANSM) came out with their recommendation to allow patients access to cannabis medicines and they have until end of 2019 to return with a model for how that will be put into practice.
In essence, our structure is lean and flexible covering sales and marketing, IT, regulatory and product development with the outsourcing of legal, packaging design, manufacturing and logistics. We also consider as part of our external structure our relations with medical and patient associations, notably in Italy, where we have contact with over 30 medical doctors and 300 pharmacies prescribing and dispensing cannabis products. Our external structure also includes universities such as the University of Milan and UNIMONT in Italy as well as the University of Technology Utech in Jamaica.
These relations allow us access to world class analytical laboratories and scientific expertise in medicinal plants and their therapeutic properties. Furthermore, we are members of the International Association of Cannabinoid Medicines IACM and the European Industrial Hemp Association EIHA.
We are currently in a phase of developing our infrastructure to meet the increasing demands of satisfying our growing customers and consumers. We are present on social media, notably Facebook and Instagram catering mainly to our Italian but also a wider international community and we will soon be launching our fully functional and multi-lingual website to present a more visible face to our consumers, investors and partners.
Standing out from the crowd – our first’s
In this new industry where many companies choose to compete as a low cost cultivator of flowers or efficient processor of oils and extracts, our key differentiating factor has been to propose value added finished cannabis products that can be put on shelves in the health food, pharmacy, para-pharmacy and drug store retail channels.
Cannabis and hemp-based food and beverage
What makes us unique is that we have in our product portfolio many ‘firsts.’ We mentioned VIVA 100 which is the first EU and Swiss regulatory compliant cannabis chocolate. This was unveiled at ISM after 12 months of in-depth work to ensure compliancy with the EU’s Novel Foods Regulation and with the Swiss Regulation for THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) in food (the only European regulation providing specific limits on THC in food) but also the strenuous guidance value for THC in foodstuffs published by the German Federal Risk Institute BfR.
In fact, using the most sensitive analytical techniques, THC is not detectable in VIVA 100. The knowledge learned from this game-changing consumer product also forms the basis for further cannabis products we are in the process of developing, notably hemp herbal teas and a THC-free cannabis sports drink. We should also mention that in April 2018, we developed and have rights to the IP of an excellent tasting THC-free Cannabis Gin and to our knowledge the first THC-free Cannabis Rum in the world.
For our food and beverage portfolio we deliberately decided to not have any THC in our products in order to comply with the requirements of the EU market that does not allow ‘recreational’ edibles as in some states of the USA and in Canada by the end of 2019.
Cannabis and hemp based OTC/Rx pharmaceuticals and cosmetics
On the pharma side of our business, we are very proud to have in our portfolio ‘Canasol’ the world’s first Ministry of Health approved cannabis medicine for the treatment of glaucoma.
This is a prescription medicine approved 36 years ago in 1983 and is dispensed in 150 pharmacies in Jamaica today. It was approved after 10 years of research including pre-clinical and clinical trials and is the invention of the celebrated Professor Emeritus, Dr Manley West and Dr Albert Lockart. Professor West was the Professor of Pharmacology at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus, Kingston Jamaica and Dr Lockart a well-known Jamaican Ophthalmologist.
This is a cannabinoid based collyrium (eye-drops) which not only helps to modulate the intraocular pressure in the treatment of glaucoma but also helps to protect the optic nerve in preventing further degradation of eyesight. Since its commercialisation it has been used by thousands of patients without the side effects, often associated with the conventional synthetic medicines used today. Canasol is a sterile medicine made from cannabis and has no THC nor any irritant for the eye. From the same birthplace of Canasol, we also have in our portfolio an Asthma medicine called ‘Asmasol’, made from cannabis and present in pharmacies in Jamaica today.
Our focus today is the international expansion of Canasol and Asmasol through our different partnerships, respecting the wishes of the late Professor West and his family to allow these truly innovative and historic medicines benefit the people and economy of Jamaica as well as benefitting patients all over the world.
In our pharma portfolio and together with our Australian partner we also have under development patient-friendly nano-transdermal cannabinoid patches that have the potential to deliver more than 95% of the active principle ingredient across the skin membrane into the blood stream in a time-controlled release manner.
The encapsulated cannabinoids are held on nano-fibres that disappear onto the skin leaving no residue. Not only does this allow for a highly efficient delivery of the API when compared to conventional patches (typically 5% to 20%) but also allows for zero waste of API in the disposable patch cover, thereby eliminating the need for specific disposal procedures in the hospital environment. The encapsulation process and nano-fibre production are all covered by a suite of patents. There are many other advantages to this technology and by Q4 of 2019 we will be able to demonstrate these advantages using cannabinoids.
Some of the big Canadian cannabis companies have successfully exported commercial dried flowers to supply government tenders in Europe but to our knowledge, another first we may claim, is to be the first importer of US produced cannabis hemp-based finished products into Europe. These cannabis products are aromatic oils and cosmetics, notably the first product containing Cannabinol CBN in Europe with our Hemp Prana Nighttime formula; and the first aromatherapy roll-on containing Cannabidiol CBD and therapeutic essential oils.
These products are commercialised under the Hemp Prana brand name and Cloud 9 Switzerland is very pleased to act as the importer and distributor for the brand owner United Cannabis (UCANN) out of Colorado USA. UCANN are noteworthy not only for the excellent quality of their products, but also for their US patent that was recently upheld in the Federal Court in the District of Colorado giving comfort to those pursuing patent claims in the cannabis space.
In the ring and going to market
Cloud 9 Switzerland is growing and attracting attention at this remarkable time in history. We know this is thanks to our values based on honesty, respect, care and a win-win approach to how we do business.
Over the course of the last two years we are proud that our growing community of followers recognise us as a trustworthy and responsible company which we believe will stand the test of time and allow us to fulfil our vision to help a changing society leverage the healthy benefits of cannabis.
Using evidence-based facts and scientific results, we look forward to improving the quality of life for our consumers and patients.
Please note, this article will appear in issue 10 of Health Europa Quarterly, which is available to read now.