This Victoria-based medicinal cannabis start-up is seeking $6 million Series A funding...

This Victoria-based medicinal cannabis start-up is seeking $6 million Series A funding to secure the first Australian licence

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Chris Nasr

LeafCann, situated in beautiful country Victoria, will strive to be the first triple P (people, planet, profit), medicinal cannabis cultivator in Australia.

The Federal and Victorian passing of the Narcotics Drug Amendment Bill 2016 and Victorian Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015 opens the way for licence applications to be made in late 2016 for cultivators and manufacturers to be granted licences to operate.

A number of companies are already positioning themselves to meet the stringent licence application requirements which are likely to be administered by the Federal Health Department and the Victorian government has established the Medicinal Cannabis task force within their Health Department. One of the first expected to apply for a cultivation licence is privately owned, regional Victoria-based start-up, LeafCann.

What is the story behind LeafCann?

It was founded in 2015 by Chris Nasr following the death of his aunty (Mariette Mansour) who, five years earlier, had a stroke and then two years ago went down hill following constant daily use of pain killers, medication and morphine patches.

Mid last year Chris said to his brother, Anthony Nasr, he wanted to see how they could create an impact, “We know medicinal cannabis helps and everyone saw that it could provide relief, why was it not legalised, why don’t we try and get it to market.” Chris said.

“We want to create impact for people that don’t have access to alternative medicine, an alternative solution for chronic disease management and pain relief that can’t be addressed by synthetic
medications.”

Chris stepped away from the Lebanese-background family electrical contracting business and said, “I need to focus 100 per cent on the viability of the cultivation business, I have a passion for it and am going to do this regardless of people saying I can’t. It helps that we have the suitable farm land ready for development, but that was an interesting conversation with my father.”

Over the next 12 months Chris went on a search, researching legalised models, looking at countries like USA and Israel that had a regulator, to better understand the system, and discovered that Canada was most aligned. Over the same period talks in Australia were happening, the Greens had released a bill (The Regulator for Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015) which was influential in the development and subsequent passing of the Federal and State Bills.

The research included calls, skypes, emails and conversations with many consultants and he came across a helpful Canadian-based collaboration between (NHP Consulting, AMA Management and David Hyde & Associates) that were sympathetic with his position, they were the best, with a track-record securing licenses, and providing the required documentation, standard operating procedures, security and business strategy.

It’s time to raise the capital needed

The early stages of LeafCann development was also spent trying to find organisations that could assist to bring this idea to realization. Chris approached Geoff Gourley, impact investor and Founder of social enterprise accelerator One10, to support LeafCann and Chris to advance the project and prepare the
business to raise approximately $6 million in funding (which could come from local or overseas investors) for the development and construction of the cultivation facility.

“We started working with Leafcann because we believe in the legalisation of medicinal cannabis and the passion Chris has to make a positive impact on the lives of others through providing medicinal cannabis as a natural form of pain relief,” said Geoff.

“It was positive to see Victorian Government supporting medicinal cannabis through the announcement of $28 million in funding for medicinal cannabis trials and setting up the Victorian regulatory framework,” he added.

Although the framework is not finalised yet, regulatory bodies are being established and government is expected to release the framework for license applications by end 2016. Federal level will approve cultivation licenses with State level approving manufacturing licences.

Following the successful capital raising LeafCann’s focus will be on researching different genetic compositions and cultivation of a variety of strains and then growing volume crops for the Australian manufacturing market.

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