Israel’s largest medical cannabis producer to list shares on Toronto Exchange

Breath of Life International files preliminary prospectus with the exchange; will become the first Israeli cannabis firm to list on the TSX

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

The Toronto Stock Exchange (Mikeinlondon, iStock by Getty Images)
The Toronto Stock Exchange (Mikeinlondon, iStock by Getty Images)

Breath of Life International Ltd. (BOL), Israel’s largest medical cannabis producer, has filed a preliminary prospectus for a proposed initial public offering of shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).

The move will make the company, also known as BOL Pharma, the first Israeli medical cannabis firm to list its shares on the TSX. Kalytera Therapeutics Inc., also an Israeli medical cannabis firm, has shares listed on the TSX Venture Exchange, Canada’s public venture capital exchange for emerging companies.

Breath of Life is a producer of medical cannabis and cannabis products that supplies pharmacies and patients with its products. The firm is targeting export markets in the EU, as well as Canada and Australia.

The firm is able to break down the cannabis plant to extract different chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, for use in research and medicine.

One of the greenhouses at Breath of Life Pharma near Beit Shemesh (Courtesy)

BOL Pharma was one of the first licensed medical cannabis cultivators in Israel. The firm has a number of products under development and is collaborating with medical centers and research facilities across Israel to support a clinical program spanning more than 30 indications, including central nervous system disorders, pain and palliative care management, and inflammation and autoimmune disorders.

BOL Pharma has 377,000 square feet of operational greenhouses and cultivation, as well as 65,000 square feet accredited manufacturing operations headquartered in Revadim, Israel. The firm is currently expanding its operations to Portugal, the company said in a Saturday statement announcing the filing of the prospectus. The company expects to have an annual manufacturing capacity of over 870,000 kilograms of dried cannabis in Israel and Portugal combined by the end of 2020, the prospectus said.

Israel is considered a pioneer in cannabis research. Hebrew University’s Prof. Raphael Mechoulam kickstarted the field in 1964, when he discovered tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis.

Cannabis for medical use was first approved in Israel by the Health Ministry in 1992 and a national medical cannabis program was set up in 2007. In June 2016, a new framework for medical cannabis regulation was set out by the government, aiming to increase medical cannabis accessibility and its standardization. The framework operated on a pilot basis starting in April 2018 and went into effect on April 29, 2019.

Among the new conditions set out by the framework: no fixed limit on the number of patients that can be prescribed medical cannabis; more physicians allowed to prescribe medical cannabis; and all pharmacies can be certified to distribute medical cannabis.  On January 27, 2019, the government approved the export of processed and finished medical cannabis product.

The number of medical cannabis patients in Israel was approximately 12,500 in 2013 and 30,000 in 2018. BOL estimates this number will increase to 120,000 by 2022, according to the prospectus.

In 2018, BOL posted revenues of $3.5 million, up from $3 million in 2017, and posted a net loss of $29.3 million, compared with a loss of $6.4 million a year earlier.

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