In 2019 Medicinal made headlines as one of the first companies to acquire a license to operate a medicinal cannabis enterprise in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Planting their first seeds on May 15th, 2020, the highly-qualified team began mastering the precise farming practices demanded by the growing conditions of SVG. Investor Kelly Glass points out, it might be referred to as “weed”, and we think of weeds as easy to grow, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is an absolute science to produce export-grade, seedless, high THC potency cannabis.
Medicinal is a complete vertically integrated seed-to-sale company. Starting from seedlings, through growth, harvest, drying, extraction, purification, and formulation, they retain the essential control needed for every step of the supply chain.
The impressive Medicinal home farm has three Caribbean-designed greenhouses which provide optimal and carefully controlled conditions for each stage of the plants’ growth – with security, climate, and irrigation all covered. Once the plants are ready to flower, they are transferred to the fields for the final stage of their life. In addition to the Medicinal farm, the company works with several local farmers, sharing their expertise, along with the economic benefits of medicinal cannabis production with traditional cannabis growers in St. Vincent.
After a few weeks in the fertile volcanic Vincentian soil with reliable Caribbean sunshine, the plants are harvested and transferred to a drying facility, and then sent for extraction and the formulation of products at Medicinal’s state-of-the-art lab and processing facility located in Spring. Here they produce a range of consumer products including lotions, oils, tinctures, vapes and edibles, along with oils and extracts for the pharmaceutical industry.
Everything has been meticulously designed to ensure the highest manufacturing standards are met. Obtaining the Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) Accreditation was one of the critical milestones, ensuring the business’ success. Medicinal worked closely with the Vincentian Government, from the PM down, and with SVG’s Medicinal Cannabis Authority (MCA). At the company’s request, the MCA performed a series of audits at the farm and drying facility. Working closely with the MCA inspectorate team has proven to be mutually beneficial as an invaluable process of knowledge exchange. After almost a year of audits, including one on behalf of their German partner, Medicinal obtained a GACP compliance accreditation enabling them to export medicinal cannabis to Germany.
Since June 2021, Medicinal formulated products have been available in SVG dispensaries, allowing patients to access a safe and consistent supply of medicinal cannabis products. These must be bought in pharmacies that carry a dispensary license from the MCA. They are all prescription-based products, prescribed by a doctor who must also hold a special license from the MCA. Medicinal THC-based products are available at Greenhouse Café at Coconut Grove Beach Club, Imperial Pharmacy (Bequia), Downtown Pharmacy (Kingstown), Corea’s City Store Pharmacy (Kingstown) and Corea’s Pharmacy (Arnos Vale).
Now in its fourth year of operation, Medicinal provides more than 40 permanent jobs at their farm in Enhams and the processing facilities in Ottley Hall and Spring. They also create indirect employment through their partnerships with local farmers. After months of trial and error, hard work, perseverance, and eye-popping investment, Medicinal began legally exporting medicinal cannabis in February 2022. That first shipment, with 50kg of cannabis bound for Germany via Canada, was also a first for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And these shipments continue as Medicinal strives to increase their production and export volume while maintaining the high quality they have achieved.
As Kelly says, “Don’t be fooled, it’s not a walk in the park getting a cannabis seed-to-sale industry off the ground.” But he expresses his gratefulness to all the people and government entities who have worked extremely hard to get them to this point. Especially his partner in the venture, Barry Ferdinand, a UK-based SVG national and friend, who up to now shares his financial pain, and his optimism, to help get Medicinal to where it is today.