Kareem Abdur-Rashid and his father Dr. Kamaluddin Abdur-Rashid have teamed up to create Kare, a pharmaceutical technology company that develops catalytic processes for the commercial manufacture of pure, single component cannabinoids. 

Kareem is currently a master’s student in the Fekl Group at UTM. He completed his BSc in chemistry at U of T in 2020. Kamaluddin, after earning his PhD from the University of West Indies in Jamaica, joined the Morris Group in 1998 as a postdoctoral fellow where he initiated the lab’s catalytic hydrogenation work. 

And now this father-son team is aiming to create environmentally friendly and sustainable cannabinoids that have a variety of medicinal uses.  

Kareem isolating Kare’s cannabinoid precursor, derived from limonene

“Our catalytic process is very efficient,” says Kareem. “Several aspects of green chemistry are incorporated in the cannabinoid manufacturing process. The precursor for the manufacture of our cannabinoids is the agricultural by-product limonene which is obtained from orange peels. All solvents used in the manufacturing are recovered, recycled, and re-used. The spent catalyst is recovered and reprocessed. This allows for an environmentally friendly and sustainable manufacturing process.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the cannabinoids Kare’s technology can produce. It is non-psychoactive and is one of the main components of the cannabis plant. 

“It has recently been approved for treating refractory epilepsy in children,” says Kareem. “It is also being investigated for treating anxiety, pain, depression, Parkinson’s disease and inflammations.”

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the other main component of the cannabis plant. It is psychoactive and is responsible for the “high” from ingesting cannabis. THC is also used medicinally to treat autism, pain, anorexia, and chemotherapy induced nausea and emesis.

A similar cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) can also be produced and is being investigated for treatment of obesity and diabetes as it reduces appetite and increases metabolism. 

Pure CBD produced by Kare

Kareem says he enjoys working on this venture with his father.

“It has been quite fun. There are lots of ups and downs in science as a whole and although it is hard work and a lot of time and effort, it feels very rewarding and fulfilling when progress is made after a difficult stretch. Of course, being able to do all this with my dad as well makes it that much more meaningful.”

Kareem believes his studies at U of T have prepared him to take on this challenge.

“Most of the chemistry I have learned has come from textbook or class-based learning, and of course, more practical skills from lab-based work. So, this was much of the foundation. My Masters specifically, has taught me to be much more independent in terms of being personally responsible for the results I generate with my supervisor for my specific project.” 

Kare has a manufacturer located in the GTA that will be producing several tons of cGMP pharmaceutical grade cannabinoids per year. 

“We want to create high value, high-paying jobs within the technology and science fields, aimed towards those residing in the GTA and more specifically in Mississauga where the company is located,” says Kareem.

“Our current facility can accommodate up to 25 employees and we aim to expand this further as we prepare to construct a larger facility.”