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20th October 2020

The Alternative Future of Medicine: Med-Cann World Virtual Summit 2020 Highlights

As the Med-Cann World Virtual Summit comes to an end we take a look back at the highlights of the day

The opening words to the Med-Cann World Virtual Summit came from Hon. Silvio Schembri, Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, in which he talked about the significance of this gradually growing sector on the island, saying how the Medical and Research Purposes Act has not only “allowed family doctors to prescribe eligible patients, but has paved the way for a new generation of a new and advantageous economic niche.”  
Policy Making & Regulation  
What followed Hon. Schembri was the first topic area of the day; Policy Making & Regulation, starting with a panel discussing WHO and its impact on national policies which suggested that, the organisation seems to have had consistent positive recommendations towards the cultural relaxation and adaptation of medical cannabis. Vice President Eve & Co said how he hopes that  

The WHO will take a stance on this and set the bar for governments to look at’.

Next under the umbrella of policy making came a discussion on the exportation and regulation of medical cannabis in Israel and how the country is getting ready for the global export of medical cannabis products grown and cultivated locally discussing the regulations and protocols involved in this process. Then this was then followed by a panel on prohibitive licensing fees, focusing on the worrying matter of certain difficulties, for instance, the setup cost put against the affordability of the products for the patients, in which Rachel Zedeck, a cannabis farmer and investor said how even though ‘there was a lot of buzz in the media about the big money and the deals going onit’s a very different reality to having a commercial farm operation.  
At this point it is interesting to point out that there was a also poll which was active which asked viewers which territory they would see as the most interesting to import medical cannabis from? And the majority of viewers voted Malta, followed by Israel.
Medical Cannabis in the EU: Where do we stand? 
Moving on, the three succeeding subjects of topics where speeches addressing the EU’s stand on Med-Cann, starting with an introductory speech by Hon. Deo Debattista, Parliamentary Secretary for Consumer Production, Medicines Authority and Public Cleaning wherein talking about the need to regulate cannabis for medical use, he said that  

I sought to ascertain that the authority’s mission to protect and enhance public health through the regulation of medicinal products and pharmaceutical activities cascades to this new regulatory commitment.”  

One of the main issues of regulation in a region such as the EU is the need to create consistency in regulatory frameworks, and this was the following topic, addressed by Stuart Lambie, Secretary General of Medicinal Cannabis Europe, where he said that the intention is to engage EU citizens to send a clear message to policymakers across all member states about the desperate for harmonized regulation to facilitate access to ‘safe, high quality, medical cannabis products.’  
As the importance of clear regulation was addressed, the gradually fading but still present elephant in the room was put on the table, as the issue of ‘narcotics’ against medicine was talked about by Dr Francis Scanian giving some context about CBD and explaining how its properties truly make it useful for medicinal purposes  
Patient Testimony
These three panels dealt with a more subjective topic that is still of great importance and benefit to this gradual adoption of this new medicinal phenomenon. Carola Perez, founder of Dosemociones and a medical-cannabis patient herself expressed how unjust the system in many countries is right now saying how  

 I can’t understand how it can be possible that we, as patients, are suffering so much, with things that are so aggressive for out bodies and minds, and we have this plans with medical evidence showing that it can help us, yet it is forbidden. Why don’t we have the right to feel human and improve our quality of life?”

The succeeding panel here complimented its previous one but was specifically on young cases, and it was addressed by Dr. Joseph Rosado who pointed out the incredible things cannabinoids can do to help with certain breakthroughs in learning for children who have autism for instance.  
The conclusive session for this topic was the educational aspect of the adaptation process in which one of the speakers, Dr. Karen Korn emphasised on how there would be an immense increase in efficiency and flow of the processes that we are going through, if we focus on educating the parties involved.  
Medical Research  
One of the very first things to be addressed here was the ongoing debate on cancer treatment, where education and medicinal point of views merged together to discuss the always recurring topic. Director of Partner Development Hybrid Pharm Alex Revich complimented Dr Karen Korn from previous panels when he said that ‘education breaks down the stigma’. 

What followed this introductory panel to this particular topic was speech by Professor and Neuroscientist Steven Laviolette’s topic of working on designing safer cannabinoid pharmacotherapies, where he points out that on the other hand how we need to be careful and consider everything since he said that  

What we find typically is that with Chronic THC Exposure you can get things like increased anxiety, cognitive problems, depression and Schizophrenia-like symptoms.”

Ending this topic of Medical Research was a panel which stressed on the point of making the whole process patient-central since after all the endpoint of the product will affect the patient and the goal of the medical community is to work on making sure that the products in place are ones that are if not completely harmless, which is perhaps a bit of a stretch, are more beneficial to the patient’s general health than harmful.  
Business Considerations 
Next up on the agenda took things from a more financial perspective, seeing what is the process of growing the product and eventually putting it on the shelves, where Account Director of Hague Corporate Affairs Quentin Galland said how it is necessary to have a uniform consistent regulatory framework across Europe to have a true European value chain of medical cannabis, which then lead on to the topic addressed by Daniel Yazbeck in a speech about his thoughts on Canada and what can Europe learn from the legislations of med-can there. Yazbeck also addressed Covid-19 saying how believes that cannabis might bring us our of the Covid depression. 

The topic that followed was the issue of educating medical professionals and the necessary precautions and protocols that have to be followed for everything to be done in the best way possible, and here panelist and Medical Cannabis campaigner Hannah Deacon emphasised that the industry needs to keep on pushing on the media, and in the educational sector to further inform people of this new emerging medical asset.
Closing this particular branch of topics was a panel on how women are leading the disruptive change in the medical cannabis industry, where Chief Administrative Officer of Ascend Wellness Holdings, Leah Heise, stressed on the point that it is necessary to have

Diverse voices at the table in order to be fully functioning companies. We need to pull more females in with us.”

At this point Med-Cann moderator Jeremy Micallef addressed another poll which asked viewers whether blockchain would increase the efficiency in the supply and demand processes of medical cannabis and the results were overwhelming, having no one agreeing that it would be a good investment to focus on in this sector.
As the summit moved closer towards its endpoint, this penultimate umbrella-topic of the day complimented its predecessor and addressed the issues regarding investment. Founder of GDS Consulting Gagandeep Singh opened the session with a focus on the need to prepare for the upcoming rise of this industry in the near future and how the changes that are happening seem to point towards a very positive future.

Following this there came the topic of addressing how to attract investment and loans in a sector that’s not only novel but has also negative connotations associated with it. JP Fabri then added how raising funds for this, especially in traditional ways has not been easy at all which is why companies should make it a priority to focus on strategy and strategic investors.
Closing this then, was a speech by Stephen Oliver addressing the need to think alternative and adapt to new situations as he said

One who can very quickly gear to an alternative method, can offer a safe haven for investment.”

Grow Operations

 To conclude the day the final topic of discussion was a look at the horizon of med-cann. Starting with a discussion the best practices for the layout and design of manufacturing, Co-founder of Nova Plamsa Ltd said how it’s not just the end result, but how one follows the GMP throughout the process of growing, cultivation, and packaging, because that is what pharma is all about. This was then followed by a discussion of bridging the knowledge gap, addressing the question to help operators unlock the commercial potential of cannabis and support the connection between the doctor, the patient and the suppliers.
The final panel addressed traceability and how blockchain can transform the sector into a more lucrative and competitive project, with CEO of TruTrace Technologies, Inc ending on the note that
“Digitising transections help facilitate tax management, appropriate patient getting medicine from appropriate buyer and much more. There are a lot of incredible benefits that can take place when transections are tracked and managed.
About Med-Cann World:
In November 2019, the inaugural Medical Cannabiz World opened its doors to the medicinal cannabis industry, supported by the Maltese government’s commitment to legislation for this high growth sector. After last year’s huge success, the second edition of Medical Cannabiz World took place virtually on the 20th and 21st October 2020, attracting more than 1,000 delegates from across the industry. Re-live 2019 expo highlights below!