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Cilo Cybin CEO Gabriel Theron. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)
  • Cilo Cybin Pharmaceutical will be the first cannabis company in South Africa to list on the local stock exchange.
  • It is also the first South African company to gain rights to grow, further process, and package marijuana products.
  • It plans to have its cannabis oils and vapes on retailers’ shelves by December.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

South Africa’s only company with a licence to grow, process, and package cannabis products has moved its listing deadline forward and plans to have its products on retailers’ shelves by December.

Cilo Cybin, set to be the first South African cannabis company on the JSE, initially targeted August 2022 to list on the bourse. But now, it is confident that it will list within the next four to six months, Gabriel Theron, CEO of Cilo Cybin, told reporters this week.  

We visited the high-tech indoor growing and processing facility just outside of Pretoria; Here’s what Cilo Cybin’s production process looks like, from planting to packing.

Where everything begins; growing the cannabis

First comes the vegetative stage, where cannabis seeds, which Cilo Cybin imports from the Netherlands, are planted in big planters.

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The mother plant can survive for about 6 months before, then after, its produces less useful marijuana leaves. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)

The cannabis flowers from the initial seed planting become the mother plant. The marijuana leaves that grow from the mother plant will then be clipped off and cloned in smaller tanks with water in a process called aeroponics.

Aeroponics encourages root growth by way of an airy or misty environment rather than soil.

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Rooting: Day 5. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)

After rooting, the leaves are transplanted into smaller buckets where they will be fed nutrients and watered for about four weeks.

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After rooting, the leaves are transplanted into smaller buckets. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)

The flowering stage

Once the cloned leaves have bloomed into whole plants, they get taken into a separate room, in the flowering room, where they’ll develop into marijuana buds. Once the buds have fully matured, they are harvested.

 
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The flowering room undergoes stringent lighting, hydro and temperature controlling. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)
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Then the cloned plants are left to grow in the flowering room. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)
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The flowering stage happens between the vegetative stage and the harvest. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)

After harvesting, the buds get dried, and then after, the leaves and stalks get trimmed off.   

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The buds, once trimmed, are stored separately. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)
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After trimming. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)

Then the processing stage

Following the flowering process, the buds are kept in bags before extraction.

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The buds get weighed and put in bags. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)
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The buds get weighed and put in bags. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)

“What happens is; it pulls out all the air and pushes in nitrogen and sucks it out again, so whatever is remaining is nitrogen in between your buds. That preserves your product,” Theron said.

Before extraction, the bags are locked in cold storage regulated at -70 °C. The processing begins after at least three hours of freezing.

 
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The bags are locked in cold storage regulated at -70 °C. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)

In the extraction room, the buds are then briefly thrown in a chopping machine.

Once shredded, it gets soaked in ethanol and then filtered out by a pump that sucks it out into a different vessel.

 
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The extraction room. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)

The result is a mixture of bulk ethanol and cannabinoids, then poured down a tube to a spherical vessel spun in a bucket with heated water.

During this process, the ethanol evaporates and separates from the oil, essentially the product.

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The cannabinoids are further processed. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)

Then the oil is further processed.

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Packing room: The bottles and vape cartridges are filled at this point. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)
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The packing room. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)
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The company hopes to have its products on shelves before the end of the year. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)
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The company hopes to have its products on shelves before the end of the year. (Image: Business Insider South Africa/Ntando Thukwana)

It is then bottled and ready to be dispatched.  

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