Ascent Industries sells Canadian cannabis business

Company includes subsidiaries Agrima Botanicals, Bloom Holdings

Part of Ascent's Canadian assets were a growing operation and lab in Maple Ridge | Shutterstock

Troubled Maple Ridge-based cannabis producer Ascent Industries Corp. (CSE:ASNT) has signed a deal to sell its Canadian assets.

Its shares are now halted at $0.10. In September, the shares were trading for more than $0.80 per share.

The news follows the company's March 4 announcement that it was pursuing “strategic alternatives,” after the Supreme Court of British Columbia issued an order granting its application for creditor protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

It said at the time that it had received a commitment for as much as $2 million in interim financing, subject to certain terms and conditions, to support its continued operations.

As for new developments, the company said March 18 that together with its subsidiaries Agrima Botanicals Corp, Bloom Holdings Ltd, Bloom Meadows Corp, Pinecone Products Ltd, and Agrima Scientific Corp, Ascent has entered into an asset-purchase agreement with BZAM Management Ltd, an affiliate of Gulf Bridge Ltd.

The new owners of its Canadian operations have agreed to assume Ascent's obligations to purchase a greenhouse, located in Pitt Meadows, the company said.

“Ascent through its subsidiaries will continue to own the assets related to Ascent's cannabis cultivation, production, distribution, research and product development business outside of Canada in Oregon, Nevada and Denmark,” the company said.

Ascent had been doing well until late last year, when Health Canada revealed that it had suspended Agrima Botanicals’ licence due to “unauthorized activities with cannabis.”

Rumours swirled that the company’s products were ending up in illegal dispensaries.

Ascent appealed the decision in December, when it laid off 30 Canadian employees, or 36% of its Canadian workforce.

Before those troubles, in October, Ascent’s then-CEO Philip Campbell told Business in Vancouver that his company has found the answer to two main obstacles in making cannabis-infused drinks – something that many believe are still big challenges even for major players.

Agrima, which has a cannabis growing operation and lab in Maple Ridge, applied for a patent on a compound that Campbell said could be added to infused drinks with the effect of making cannabinoids water soluble. Water solubility is key for the success of cannabis-laced beverages because it means that drinkers will be able to feel the effects in about 15 minutes, instead of about an hour and a half.

Campbell told BIV at the time that he had also been able to get around the other main obstacle to making a successful cannabis-laced beverage – foul-tasting cannabinoids.

He said that the taste that people associate with cannabinoids is not from the pure cannabinoid, but rather from waxes, lipids, chloroplasts, chlorophyll and other trace compounds that compose about 30% of the oil after an initial extraction with a solvent.

Agrima, he said, distils that initial extraction to eliminate those compounds and create relatively tasteless cannabinoid oil.

Campbell, however, resigned the next month.