European Cannabis Weekly Round-Up

Cannabis Medication Confiscated at Southend Airport

Teagan is a nine-year-old girl suffering from a severe form of epilepsy, known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome which can cause up to 300 seizures a day. Yesterday, her mother, Emma Appleby, flew back to the UK from Holland carrying three months’ worth of cannabis oil, valued at £4,500, a potentially life-saving medication which her daughter cannot access in the UK.

Despite the legal changes introduced last November, parents keep struggling to secure prescriptions. This is in part due to reluctance within the medical community, with the Royal College of Physicians and the British Paediatric Neurology Association largely discouraging use of the medicine.

Emma managed to secure a prescription in Rotterdam, after her application for an import licence was rejected. Her supply of medical cannabis was confiscated by customs officials after entering the UK. Emma said “I’m devastated. I’ve always tried to do the right thing. All I want is the best thing for my daughter. To have the medicine taken in this way is deeply upsetting.”

Medications prescribed by the NHS could not alleviate Teagan’s symptoms and caused several side-effects. Emma has met the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, who expressed his sympathy for her family and all patients in similar situations and said that something has to change; yet, he stressed that practical changes must be clinician-led.

Solidarity arrived from Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi and Hannah Deacon – mother of Alfie Dingley, one of the first children to be prescribed medical cannabis – who on April 3rd joined ECH, the group of companies behind the launch of the UK’s first medical cannabis clinic, as Patient Advocacy Specialist.

Post-Brexit Opportunities

The latest Brexit developments have cast more doubts and shadows on the future of UK-EU relationships in political and economic terms. As businesses and investors are trying to limit damages and losses in the case of an unfavourable scenario, new analytical reports try to interpret the possible outcome of such an uncertain situation.

For what regards the future of cannabis in the UK, the London-based Prohibition Partners released its new European Cannabis Report last Thursday, April 4th. According to the report, ‘a no-deal Brexit will not risk the sustained growth of the legal cannabis industry in the UK.’ Currently, cannabis regulations are determined by single member states, although there is a willingness to adopt a common approach to medical cannabis, which would benefit businesses and, most importantly, patients.

However, since policies continue to be decided by the individual state, the impact of the UK leaving the union should not cause disastrous effects, at least in this field. In fact, the report forecasts a market growth which comes as good news to Germany, Italy, and France, despite the economic slowdown of the Eurozone.

Prohibition Partners Managing Director Daragh Anglim said:

With Europe facing ongoing uncertainty over when, how and even whether Brexit will happen, investors are undoubtedly nervous about the future. As one of only a few sectors likely to emerge unscathed from the Brexit drama, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at the enormous potential offered by Europe’s legal cannabis market.

Aurora Cannabis

On April 5th, Aurora Cannabis has been selected by the German Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte BfArM (Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices) as one of three winners in the public tender to cultivate and distribute medical cannabis in Germany.

Neil Belot, Chief Global Business Development Officer, declared:

We are very proud to have been selected as one of only three companies by the German government, which is a great achievement by our team.

Among 79 contenders, Aurora has been awarded 5 of the 13 lots for cultivation over a period of four years. The expected production will amount to 4,000 kg a year and will be sold to the German Government and supplied to wholesalers for distribution to pharmacies. The contract will be formalized at the earliest on April 17th, 2019, pending the outcome of an appeal procedure on which a ruling is anticipated by April 10th, 2019.

Portugal

On April 4th, Portuguese companies EDX Biomed (EDX) and Preze Unipessoal Lda (Preze) secured a partnership deal in order to create a cannabis powerhouse. The new PrezEDX plans to fund a new 10-hectare facility capable of producing over 100 tonnes of GMP compliant medical cannabis annually.

Henrique Sardinha, Chief Executive Officer, thus commented on the new partnership:

The move ultimately means that we can provide European patients with affordable, accessible and safe medical cannabis products.

Since Portugal legalised the use of cannabis in medical contexts in July 2018, Preze was the first Portuguese-based medical cannabis company with a licence to import, cultivate and export cannabis products. Recently, the company has also built a distribution network to supply pharmacies in other European countries, including Germany and the UK.

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