On this episode of Grow Your Own Way, our Pharmaceuticals talent expert David Olmo sat down with Patrick Doherty, CXO at CannaList EU. Increasing buzz around medicinal cannabis points to more opportunities for businesses and governments throughout Europe.
But the emerging potential for cannabis is also raising questions (and eyebrows!) in both the political and pharmaceutical space.
Listen below as David and Patrick look at the current state of medical cannabis around the world and what this could mean if Spain gets on board.
For those who prefer to read, we’ve also condensed the podcast into a short and sweet transcript!
Read All About It
Patrick Doherty is a professional with a solid career in the startup field.
He has been working with startups and entrepreneurs to help them grow for more than 10 years now. His career has developed in different cities such as San Francisco, Berlin and Barcelona.
Patrick also has deep knowledge of the medical cannabis industry, so today we are here to talk about this trending topic.
Why is it an exciting time for medical cannabis?
We have the benefit of looking at the US and seeing how they are developing this industry – states like Colorado, where we’ve seen the cannabis industry grow and flourish.
We’ve seen job creation, we’ve seen taxation, which has resulted in revenues to the States that they are in turn using in for tuition assistance, and other programs. And there is a genuine interest and lots of excitement around the possibility of bringing this into Europe, where we are starting to see the early stages of this. We are looking at ways that we can replicate some of the successes of the US here in Europe.
The benefit [for] the local ecosystem to create jobs, to create taxation and to make sure that this is done in a way [in which] we have proper dosage and compliance and is legal.
What countries are leading the way in Europe?
There are a lot of countries that are at the forefront of this. Germany is doing a fair amount of work in the medical cannabis space. There has been a recent announcement that Lithuania is going to be the first country to legalise cannabis, I believe for both medical and recreational [use], and we are seeing countries like Malta who are interested in this. The UK is starting to move forward with medical programs.
So, we are seeing this slowly percolate throughout most of Europe. We are seeing activities in Poland. We are starting to see some of the challenges of early adoption of these programs.
Why is cannabis such good business for entrepreneurs?
I just think there is a lot of opportunities. Cannabis is a ‘weed’, so it’s easy to grow. So, if you are looking at countries like Poland or other countries that already have an established agriculture structure that can transform it, whether it be cannabis or hemp… These products are relatively easy to grow. But what we want to look for is to grow these products in a sustainable manner. Probably the one thing that we have learned from Canada and the US is that the growth takes up too much energy and resources, and we want to find a way to do this on a more sustainable basis.
What are some of the challenges facing European medical cannabis?
The primary challenge with adoption in the EU ecosystem is that there are 28 member states, which means there are 28 different jurisdictions, 28 different sets of laws and regulations; compliance that we would need to address. The way that we do business in Germany may not be the way that we do business in Poland, so we are going to need the expertise and understanding of what the requirements and jurisdictions are, and how we transfer that information to other jurisdictions.
What’s going on with therapeutic cannabis in Spain?
Unfortunately, in the very last week, the Health Minister said that this is not a priority. What they are looking for is clinical trials and evidence. The claims that we are making about cannabis. There is a lot of exciting potential in medical cannabis, but we [need] significant research and clinical trials before we can use it as a medicine. Unfortunately, what we are seeing in Spain is that this is not an immediate priority. And what we will see is other countries working to move forward, and Spain, at that point, will have to try to catch up and or import products which are produced elsewhere. We would love to see this happen locally, but the political environment is not currently supporting that.
What kind of profiles do you think will be the most requested within this industry?
I think what happens in the cannabis space and I think we are seeing this in more established ecosystems is that we are going to […] see very large players dominate that space.
But then, on the recreational side, there will be more localisation. We are going to see opportunities to create a local vantage with local quality. So, we see opportunities to grow jobs and to create tax revenue. In addition to that, some things that are going to happen is that we need to understand dosage. So, if I take a product, regardless of where it comes from, I know that the dosage systems correspond. So, we need to understand dosage, we need to understand where the products are being tested and how they are controlled. We should know about the different regulations in the 28 EU member states.
In addition to that, we will hopefully see more sustainability in the industry. Right now, we are growing products in greenhouses under lights, using tremendous amounts of electricity and that doesn’t make any sense, especially in a [warming] climate. We are growing products using energy when there should be, and can be, more sustainable ways of doing it. We are seeing examples from the agriculture side such as vertical farming, that we should be able to adapt to create a more sustainable approach to growing this product.
Furthering sustainability, particularly in the head markets, we know that hemp can replace a lot of the unsustainable types of products. We can have hemp clothing, which is much more sustainable than cotton. We can have [hemp] paper products, which are more sustainable than cutting down trees. We want to approach this industry from a more sustainable point of view.
Cannabis for medicinal and recreational use remains a contentious topic. What’s your take on medical marijuana?
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