By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
Pioneer Bret “King of Kush” Bogue and former IT director Yorick Brown are hedging their bets on a Bahamian cannabis industry with a $2m investment in a local growing facility. Mr Brown, of Browns Point Ventures Ltd, said he and Mr Bogue - as partners in the firm Imperial Investments - have inked a memorandum of understanding with Lucayan Tropical Produce to lease a 20,000 sq metre hydroponic greenhouse with expanded capacity of up to 60,000 sq metres.
“As far as investments,” Mr Bogue said, “our initial investment will be upwards US$10m and from that we anticipate upwards of $30m in total financing for the projects that we are undertaking. Our key projects…what we are trying to provide is an alternative solution to banking and the insurance business, as far as it pertains to the cannabis and hemp industry.
“We see that not only the United States and the European Union are having a difficult time banking the money that have been made (in cannabis) and we feel that we have a system right now that, with checks and balances, would allow for transparency for not only this country but the world to use us as the go to on how to bank and insure.”
Mr Brown said the firm plans to go after mass production of hemp as its first target, given it was not psychoactive and therefore held less stigma, and could be used for both medicinal and industrial uses.
“Cannabis will change the world and we want to be the leaders,” said Mr Brown, who underscored its diversity with applications across a wide range of sectors like food, clothing, shelter, education and energy.
“Bret is a master grower, he’s a legend in his own right. Obviously, the lease agreement has not started as yet because there has been no permission by Minister (of Health Duane) Sands…but we’ve locked down the exclusive right to use the greenhouse for a year with the view that hopefully within a year, the government will have made its decision.”
He continued: “What (Lucayan Tropical) doing is growing micro greens and other things. They have been doing that for quite a while, but the Symonettes as you see they have been going into other actual avenues. So me coming along and saying let me take that off your hands, that was something they were interested in.”
Health Minister Dr Duane Sands has maintained the government will not consider granting any applications for cannabis use under the Dangerous Drugs Act until the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana has completed its report codifying Bahamian attitudes.
Mr Brown quit his job as an IT director two years ago to plunge headfirst into an industry he believes will dramatically improve the country’s economic, and environmental, sustainability.
He said the decision to lock down exclusive rights to the greenhouse facility for a year, represents an undertaking of good faith as all signs point to a global end to cannabis prohibition by early next year.
Mr Bogue, an industry pioneer, is the founder of North Californian seed breeding company Apothecary Genetics. Imperial Investments is a division of the firm targeting banking futures and reinsurance of international hemp and cannabis businesses.
It aims to provide “a closed loop transparent ecosystem for the hemp and cannabis industry to bank and insure worldwide”.
The two are pursuing the hemp venture as an entry point. “We’re focused more on hemp,” Mr Brown said, “because of the fact that we have hemp plywood that we can actually use. We’re ready to go right now, with biomass out of the US and be able to have a place in Freeport that makes plywood and planks that you can get for around $8.
“That’s what we are focusing on,” he continued, “that’s what we want the Bahamas to realise, it’s more than the guys smoking on the block.”
For his part, Mr Bogue has over 30 years in the cannabis industry as a grower and was the first American to win the coveted Cannabis Cup at a leading trade show and festival in the Netherlands for the strain “Kaia Kush” in 2007. He won again in Jamaica in 2015 for the strain “Jah Cure OG”.
“The Bahamas has a chance to separate itself from the other Caribbean islands,” said Mr Bogue, who yesterday underscored the importance of public education on the distinction between hemp and marijuana.
• The printed version of this story stated Mr Brown’s plans for a docu-series produced by Bishop-Lyons Entertainment. However, The Tribune understands the agreement between Mr Brown and Bishop-Lyons was for raw footage only. The company is no longer affiliated with Mr Brown and will not be producing a film or TV project with him.