Founded in 2019 by Abhishek Mohan and Aradhna Rai, cannabis startup Hemp Street claims to be India’s first research-to-retail Ayurvedic venture. The startups, which closed $1 million in a pre-Series A round this month, offers high-quality and standardized cannabis-based medicines.
Cannabis Startups may be infamous for its psychoactive effects and “high”, but its use for medical reasons has grabbed the spotlight for a while now. Tapping this demand is Delhi-based startup Hemp Street, which calls itself “India’s first fully integrated research-to-retail venture in the Ayurvedic cannabis sector”.
The Cannabis Sativa plant, which encompasses hemp, cannabis, and marijuana, contains more than 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids. These are used to treat many diseases and conditions, including chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, menstrual cramps, muscle spasms, mental health, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, sexual disorders, and more.
However, the highly un organised nature of this segment, coupled with lack of standards and protocols, often leads doctors to make their own medicines.
Enter Delhi-based Hemp Street, which provides Ayurveda doctors with high quality and standardised cannabis-based medicines. The startup uses cutting-edge technological innovations and works with leading scientists and research institutions to ensure the responsible dispensing of cannabis-based medication.
Co-founded by Abhishek Mohan and Aradhna Rai, Hemp Street has a wide network of over 60,000 medical practitioners and 300 branded clinics across India. It strives to ensure “effective and responsible usage of cannabis” to a potential patient base of over 35 million individuals.
Abhishek Mohan, Co-Founder, HempStreet, says, “Currently, cannabis – in the Ayurvedic context – comprises 99 percent of what we are doing. We believe it is critical to apply scientific validation to what has been culturally known for generations. With a world-class research partnership with Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), we are set to release an extensive range of cannabis-based prescription products over the next few quarters.
In the beginning
HempStreet was launched in 2019 by Abhishek Mohan and Aradhna Rai to make cannabis-based medicines available to patients suffering from ailments such arthritis, insomnia, appetite loss, and others, and dispensed on prescription by qualified and licensed Ayurveda practitioners.
As the first R&D-to-retail cannabis player in India, the startup uses several technological innovations, including a first-in-market usage of “seed-to-sale” tracking with blockchain technology.
This is over and above the company’s R&D activities in partnership with CSIR to develop quality and proprietary Ayurvedic medicines.
“Substance abuse is a big problem worldwide and we want use to be tracked. We are building blockchain technology to track from cannabis seed to sale, eliminating this problem,” Abhishek says.
Focus on medical cannabis
In February 2020, Hemp Street announced that it had secured $1 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by Pharmacon Holdings, a US-based pharma tech company, and Romain Barberis, a long-time private investor in the cannabis space in the US and Canada.
The company plans to use the funds for research, technology development, and category disruption.
“This funding will help us in further strengthen our commitment to effective and responsible usage of cannabis, especially on the pain relief front,” Abhishek says.
“We will use the capital to disrupt the category and take cannabis research to newer heights. We intend to set new milestones for the medicinal cannabis sector in the country with our research, supply chain tracking, and responsible and regulated formulation and dispensing,” he adds.
Outlook for the future
Cannabis is recognised as one of the five key medicinal plants in the Vedas, and the plant’s history in India can be traced back to 2000 BC. As per Ayurvedic texts, nearly 191 formulations and more than 15 dosage forms have cannabis as a key ingredient.
The legal cannabis industry is currently one of the fastest growing industries in the world. According to a report by Grand View Research Inc, the global legal cannabis market is predicted to reach $146.4 billion by the end of 2025.
According to Abhishek, globally about one in five, or 1.5 billion people, suffer from chronic pain (CP). India is likely to be ranked highest in terms of CP cases by 2025.
“There is a need for a sustainable and economical solution to counter India’s growing chronic pain crisis. Hemp Street is working towards providing an affordable solution to all through cannabis-based medicines,” Abhishek adds.
HempStreet aims to “grow its doctor community to 300,000 and onboard 5,000 clinics in the next three years”.