We have conducted an interview, which we would like to share, as an introduction to what your participation as lecturers of the Cannaciencia Symposium will be on the next 20 and 21 April 2018 in the city of Bogotá.
RM: Ricardo Martínez Rivadeneira – PM: Paul Mavor
RM: What do you consider the critical success factors of the medicinal cannabis industry in Australia?
PM: We are a very new industry compared to other countries who have been doing this for a while. It is important to look at other countries such as the US, Canada and Israel and see what has worked and what has not. Our government has followed very closely and tried to implement a good framework for success. As a result there is lots of interest in research projects by scientists and support from the government. This will hopefully benefit us in the long run.
RM: What have been the main achievements of the Australian medicinal cannabis industry to date?
PM: We became legal in November 2016
First imported (Canadian) products arrived May 2017
A number of growing/manufacture/research licenses have been issued
Our government has also just allowed Australian companies to export our products once they come online
RM: At this time, what are the main future challenges for the medicinal cannabis industry in Australia?
PM: The big challenge at this stage is patient access. The bar has been set very high for doctors to write prescriptions and involves a lot of paperwork. Federally we have a very good system. Unfortunately our local state health departments who were in charge of banning cannabis have implemented a very difficult system. This will hopefully change over time.
RM: What recommendations would you give to the nascent medicinal cannabis industry in Colombia?
PM: We are still very your ourselves so are looking to other countries and what has worked well. Australia has adopted a very strict medical system. I think this is important moving forward as whilst it is slow to begin with rigorous testing and research in the long run it will make for a better more sought after product. In most all cases in the US and Canada it has been legalised as a very medical industry this has worked well and then a number of years down the track the authorities have relaxed the laws to make patient access easier.
RM: What has it meant for you to be the pioneers of the medicinal cannabis industry in Australia?
PM: This is a really progressive industry to be involved in and things are moving very fast. We are really excited to be able to travel within our country and overseas (especially Colombia!) and attend conferences and talk about this. Most of the people involved in this industry tend to be very forward thinking and progressive. Things change on a daily basis so we constantly have to keep up to date.
RM: What are you recommendations about analytical testing for the emerging industry in Colombia?
PM: We learnt very early on that testing of cannabis for potency and purity is key. There were a lot of disappointed people who were just hoping to grow their cannabis and sell it. This might be okay when you are growing it for yourself but when you are supplying a product to others you need to fulfil some key obligations and make sure the product is what is stated. The cannabis plant is generally very safe but the plant itself is a bio-accumulator and absorbs everything in the soil. When the flower is extracted and concentrated this may also concentrate any contaminants such as pesticides or heavy metals. There have been issues in the US and Canada where sample testing has shown a few shortcuts were taken in the production process and we have learnt from that. Testing is important for consumer confidence. It would be no different if we were making any product sold to the pubic even bottled water. If there were any problems it could affect our entire industry.
We thank Paul Mavor for this interview, we are close to listening to his conference at the Cannaciencia Symposium, we invite you to register and not miss the opportunity to learn from Paul Mavor.