This is the second report on Cannabis Europa 2019, held in London, England, June 24-25.
Cannabis Europa opened with a rousing speech from Aurora‘s chief corporate officer, Cam Battley. Demonstrating the zeal of an acknowledged convert, Battley predicted that cannabis could replace aspirin and declared to the crowd that “we grow medicine!” Aurora’s public commitment to medical cannabis is admirable but highly suspect to many long-time activists who were quoted in an article that appeared in The Guardian on June 23rd: “If they were in it for helping people, where were they 10 years ago when we were banging the drum?” said one.
To which I couldn’t help but think, “Yes, and now we’re banging our heads.” As discussed in #45 Prime Time, there has been a lot of talk about legal, medical cannabis in England and other places around the globe but reformers are learning that passing a law is not even half the battle. Then you have to start negotiations with the bureaucrats.
But we are where we are. In the past nine months this writer has heard corporate officers from the biggest players in medical cannabis, both Aurora and Canopy, declare their allegiance to medical cannabis. I can only hope they are sincere because medical cannabis is taking a hit in markets where both medical use and recreational cohabit. Washington state has closed their medical cannabis program, folding everything under the Dept. of Alcohol and Tobacco; California’s recreational program is wreaking havoc for medicinal users, pricing cannabis at exorbitant levels with the state coming in behind charging exorbitant taxes; in Canada the national association of physicians actually recommended that Canada close its medical program and let users — medical and recreational — use the same dispensaries.
Thankfully Canada has refused, so far. They are, however, taxing medical users at the same level as recreational users.
But hope springs eternal and there was plenty of hope at Cannabis Europa. In addition to Mr. Battley’s uplifting speech we were also treated with presentations from two world leaders and both were wildly enthusiastic about cannabis … in a diplomat’s way, of course.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Lesotho, Mr. Monyane Moleleki, declared that the government of his country will “develop a fertile environment for the medical cannabis industry” and promised “we are determined and dedicated to make it work.” Lesotho has created a “medical cannabis special economic development zone” and has “a hardworking populace.”
Mr. Moleleki was accompanied to the conference by his wife who spoke at a meeting of the Global Cannabis Partnership on Monday night, held in the House of Commons. Mrs. Moleleki addressed the issue of women in the cannabis industry, expressing her hope that women are not excluded from the rapidly growing cannabis industry.
A global perspective of cannabis was provided by the Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat. He announced that Malta will begin exporting medical cannabis in early 2020. The small island nation, a member of the European Union, approved medical cannabis just over a year ago and had 46 applications from companies to establish various medical cannabis operations. Malta has approved 20 companies to begin operations, including Aurora, Canopy and MGC Pharma, and Mr. Muscat stated that Malta expects investment of €110 million Euros. Once operational, these companies will contribute €500 million to Malta’s economy which, Mr. Muscat noted, is the fastest growing economy in the EU. This was exciting stuff for investors in the audience and it is no surprise that the prime minister was mobbed upon completing his speech.
Yes, hope was definitely in large supply at Cannabis Europa as these speakers demonstrated. But talk is cheap…time for the hard work now, making medical cannabis a global reality. ❖
Next up: Prime Time #47 looks at the Cannabis Europa discussion on CBD.