Ayurveda and cannabis: India’s R&D-to-retail firm HempStreet set for first product launch
The two-year-old company has been partnering with the Indian government research body, the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), in developing scientifically backed products that combine cannabis and ayurveda formulations.
At present, cannabis and CBD-based nutraceuticals are illegal in India, but there has been scope for research and product development in the ayurvedic medicine space.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, cofounder of HempStreet Abhishek Mohan, revealed the types of ayurvedic cannabis products that the company would launch.
The products will target insomnia, anxiety, and pain relief, and are only available upon prescription by ayurvedic doctors.
Even before the product launch, the company has already secured a substantial distribution network by partnering a key platform that links up the ayurvedic industry.
The partnering platform will exclusively distribute HempStreet’s products, which allows the latter’s ayurvedic cannabis products would be available to over 60,000 ayurvedic medicine practitioners spanning across 220 clinics.
Mohan said that the network could potentially reach out to over 35 million individuals.
He revealed that the company planned to launch another 17 to 18 new products in the upcoming months. On top of this, there is already another 25 products in the pipeline.
The use of cannabis in ayurvedic practice is not a new concept, however, the company seeks to distinguish itself by developing scientifically backed products using standardised cannabis.
“Cannabis has been used in India in ayurvedic medicine. What we did is we standardised and made it a reliable product.
“We took an age-old practice and gave it a modern context and the doctors are asking us for it,” Mohan said.
The R&D is conducted with CSIR, where the research looked at how cannabis can be used to address different ailments, such as epilepsy and arthritis.
Other areas include finding out the right formulation, applications, and the method of delivery.
As for the raw materials, the company manufactures products using cannabis bought from the government which permits growing in certain regions, such as Uttarakhand.
Mohan added that cannabis, being traditionally used for ayurvedic medicine which was used by about 77% of India’s population, did not face the problem of cultural opposition.
The company has recently secured a USD$1m funding in the pre-series A funding round.
The funding was led by Pharmacon Holdings, a US based pharma tech company, and Romain Barberis.
Mohan said the company planned to use the funds for R&D purposes.
“Because our distribution channels are already built, we don't really have to spend too much money on that. We will look at hiring more on the R&D side.
“We are only scratching the surface of the applications of cannabis. We got so much more that we can do.”
To ensure that the ayurvedic cannabis products are used responsibly, the company has developed a blockchain technology to track the use of a product from seed to sale.
For instance, information such as the suppliers, doctors who prescribed a particular product, and the patients who used the products would be recorded in the blockchain system.
It will provide access to the government to ensure that there is no excessive prescription and that there is responsible dispensing of the medicine.
“Being the first research to retail player in the whole country at this point, we have to pre-emptively secure the industry in terms of making sure there is no misuse of products.
“We are pre-emptively doing a lot of things and advising the government on it, because in fact, we are pre-emptively regulating ourselves...We are looking to build a robust industry where we have been lucky enough to make the first step,” Mohan said.