Israel has a strong first-mover advantage in Uganda where it’s enjoyed an exclusive relationship with the government. Although that monopoly is coming to an end, Israeli company Together Pharma will continue to be the dominant player in the East African country as it moves towards opening up the market.
Together is believed to have committed investment of US360 million in Uganda but that has not been verified by the company.
Together we shall build Ugandan cannabis
Together Pharma, chaired by former Israeli police commissioner Yochanan Danino, has distinct first mover advantage after securing a grow operation in has emerged as a major player in Uganda’s fledgling cannabis export industry.
Former Israeli top cop Danino now a legal international cannabis dealer
Uganda legalized cannabis for export on 27 January 2020 but there is still uncertainty on the issuing of licenses and exact compliance guidelines.
However, it has emerged that Together Pharma has been importing cannabis from Uganda since 2017 after doing a deal with a private Ugandan company, Industrial Hemp Uganda (IHU). IHU, in which former Bunyaruguru County MP Benjamin Cadet, has an interest, secured exclusive rights in 2012 from Uganda’s Ministry of Health to grow cannabis. IHU and Together then formed Industrial Globus Pharma Uganda Ltd to farm cannabis in Hima in the Kasese district.
During his time as commissioner (2011 to 2015), Danino was publically in favour of legalizing recreational cannabis in Israel, a development expected during the next 12 months . Danino’s job, according to a company statement, is to lead “international business development activities, including the promotion of collaboration agreements with global players.”
See Israel set to legalize recreational cannabis
Danino’s first deal – 250 kg of Ugandan cannabis
One of Danino’s first deals was to tie up the Ugandan supply. His first order was a 250 kg of GACP medical cannabis at US$1 500/kg. This was shipped out to Israel for processing into medical marijuana products in March 2020 and a further 600 kg order is pending.
250 kg of legal marijuana being shipped out of Entebbe Airport – on its way to Israel
The Ugandan cannabis was all consumed in Israel – Together has an exclusivity agreement with a pharmacy in Tel Aviv for distribution of the products, and with another 12 pharmacies dispersed across the country.
The Daily Monitor reports that the Ugandan government cleared the 250 kg shipment after “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government agreed to pay $375,000 (about Shs1.5b) for dry cannabis flowers”.
Security sources told Daily Monitor that a Kasese-based medical marijuana dealer- the Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd, used Turkish Airlines on Monday (30 March 2020) night to deliver their first significant medical cannabis exports to Israel. The Turkish flight left the country at 11:30pm.
This newspaper understands that the company last year signed a delivery order with Israel’s ministry of health that requires Uganda to supply dry cannabis flowers at a gate price of $1,500 per kilo. This company is linked to former Bunyaruguru County MP Benjamin Cadet.
Sources told Daily Monitor at the weekend that the deal was secured through an Israeli marijuana company – Pharma Limited. Israeli’s health ministry contacted the company last year through one of the directors at Pharma Limited, an Israeli company working with Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd and has invested about $360m (Shs1.3 trillion) in Hima, Kasese.
Mr Cadet, one of the directors at Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd, confirmed the order from Israel but declined to divulge the details. After hours of consultations, he later sent a brief WhatsApp message in which he called the deal “a great leap forward” by Uganda and his Industrial Hemp to become the first country and company in the world to access the Israeli medical cannabis market.
“With coronavirus negatively affecting economies around the world, our medical cannabis exports are going to generate foreign exchange for Uganda in these difficult times and the future to come,” Mr Cadet said but declined to divulge other details of the deal.
Ugandan supply critical for market share
Together Pharma sees Uganda as a significant source of dried flower. Together Pharma founding partner and MD, Nir Sosinsky said: “The operations of our farms in Uganda and Israel allows us to ensure regular supply of significant volume to the market in Israel, while also supporting our expansion of the local market share.”
Ugandan officials inspect the country’s first legal cannabis crop
“After signing a US$9,7 million agreement recently, to sell medical cannabis products to a European country, we are working on similar agreements as part of our global expansion, while at the same time completing the construction of a processing plant intended for the processing of future larger quantities, from both Uganda and from Israel,” Sosinsky said.
Nissim Bracha, CEO of Together Pharma, said that under Danino’s chairmanship of the board of directors the company will aim at “collaborating with leading players in the global medical cannabis industry.”
Danino served as Israel Police commissioner from 2011 to 2015. He was also previously chairman of the Migdal Insurance company, one of the largest in the country.
While still filling the role of police chief, Danino called on the government to reassess its policies on the recreational use of marijuana. Noting the increasing calls for cannabis to be made legal, Danino said in 2015, “I think it’s time for the police, along with the state, to reevaluate its traditional position.”
In April 2018, Together said it had reached a binding agreement to sell five tons of cannabis oil to a Canadian company that it didn’t name. The deal could potentially yield revenue of hundreds of millions of shekels, the Israeli firm said at the time.
Israel way ahead in the cannabis game
Israel is known as a pioneer in cannabis research, and there are government estimates that the economy could reap $285 million to $1.14 billion a year from the industry. An estimated 50 Israeli medical marijuana companies work in cultivating plants or producing delivery devices for the drug in Israel, according to Reuters.
Last month cabinet ministers approved the export of medical cannabis, paving the way for Israeli marijuana growers to begin international sales. With the approval Israel joined the Netherlands and Canada as nations allowing the legal export of medical cannabis.
Ehud Barak, the former prime minister, is also chairman of a medical cannabis firm, InterCure, which announced the appointment in September 2019.