The Pot Seat: Eve’s Ben Rohr says cannabis honey could be a thing in 2021
Health & Biotech
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It was 2017 when budding Australian marijuana investors first caught sight of Eve Investments (ASX:EVE) and its promises of cannabis and hemp seed honey.
Two years later the hemp honey is out but they’re still waiting for the cannabis version.
Eve is one of the 30-odd ASX cannabis stocks which have been caught by the slow ramp up of the Australian market, but a series of deals is making the initial plan more feasible.
Provided these fruit — and given part of the hold-up is licensing delays at the Office of Drug Control — Eve is hoping it might be able to start those cannabis dreams from 2021.
A large part of those dreams consist of selling cannabis honey — a grey area — into the US.
In the beginning, in May 2017, Eve was going to make “a premium honey product, produced by bees pollinating on hemp or medicinal cannabis plant nectar”.
But within months cannabis honey slipped off the radar and hemp-infused honey was du jour.
The company said in late 2017 the hemp honey would be on the market by early 2018.
But Eve’s longtime investment manager and CEO of its subsidiary Meluka Health, Ben Rohr, says it’s only really been on sale since the start of 2019, after it signed its first wholesale distributor The Fair Traders in November.
As such, they can’t yet put a dollar figure on how popular the hemp honey is.
“Hemp honey has always been planned to be hemp seed or hemp variation infused into our honey, because hemp itself by definition doesn’t have the THCs and CBDs,” he told Stockhead.
Marijuana honey, on the other hand, is where the bees were supposed to come in, the part of the business that might start getting traction in 2021.
The cannabis honey idea started when Eve bought half of Jenbrook, a NSW organic tea tree farm, in 2017 (it bought the other half in August last year).
Part of the concept was to explore the idea of having bees make honey from the pollen of marjiuana plants grown for medical purposes, which would then contain the active ingredients in much the same way as Manuka honey from New Zealand contains antibacterial properties.
Rohr would not go into detail on how they plan to limit their bees to just the cannabis plants.
“We have a methodology where we provide a food source for the bees that is a derivative of, say for our tea tree monofloral honey, is a derivative of tea tree,” he said.
“That food source is harvested naturally by the bee… and they if they’re choosing that food source of everything else it would be a monofloral honey.”
Last year part of the farm was leased to THC Global (ASX:THC).
The plan is that THC will grow organic medical cannabis at the site and use its manufacturing plant in Southport, Queensland to create products for Eve.
While THC has growing and R&D licences for its initial sites in Queensland, it’s still waiting on a manufacturing licence and permit for the Southport plant and licences for the Jenbrook site.
Rohr says within 12 months of the cannabis being made available they should have a product road tested and on the market.
If THC were to receive those licences soon, they could feasibly have cannabis honey for sale by the start of 2021, he says.
Australia’s stringent medical cannabis laws mean marijuana honey couldn’t be sold here unless as a prescribed product under the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) special access scheme.
But Rohr says they’ve received advice that naturally produced honey is a grey area: it could be possible to sell honey containing THC and CBD if it’s all natural.
They are not intending to push the regulatory boundaries here, however.
“We’re not hoping to make the product or build the product for the Australian market,” he said. “If it’s not clear cut on what we can do here we won’t even try.”
At the moment they’re considering both the bee avenue and adding a cannabis extract or high-potency serum to honey.
The market they want to be in is the US.
Rohr says naturally produced cannabis honey is a grey area there too, but if they can’t get around that issue they will export regular honey to the US and infuse it with a cannabis extraction there.
Rohr says this won’t harm their deal with THC, which has said they have people in the US which can supply honey and cannabis if Eve chooses the latter route.