A HISTORIC MOMENT FOR EUROPEAN MEDICAL CANNABIS
Cannabis Europa brought international stakeholders, fresh perspectives and stimulating discussion to Paris to drive forward Europe’s burgeoning medical cannabis space.
On February 8th, Cannabis Europa was proud to host our first French conference, at Paris’ Maison de la Chimie. This world-renowned scientific institution, just steps from the Assemblée Nationale, is known for its commitment to partnering top-level scientists with decision-makers to foster science-based solutions for society.
After a sparkling Welcome Reception the evening before, the full-day conference featured a series of deep dives into the complex regulatory landscape, groundbreaking scientific research, and the technical and business expertise that gives the European medical cannabis sector such promise.
Below we have a compiled just a few of our highlights from the event.
Welcome Reception // Alcazar Paris
Frequented by Parisian artists and publishers, Alcazar is no stranger to tastemakers, and on the eve of Cannabis Europa Paris the most influential minds in cannabis convened under the greenery to discuss the future of the medical cannabis industry. Many thanks to our hosts at the restaurant and our gracious welcome drinks partners, Canaccord Genuity.
09:00-09:45 Check-In + Breakfast // La Grande Galerie
From 9am we welcomed guests, speakers and partners to Paris’ Maison de la Chimie. We checked in over 400 guests who travelled to us from more than 30 countries, and every continent (apart from Antartica).
09:45-10:00 Welcome Address // George McBride
George McBride, co-founder of Cannabis Europa and CEO of Hanway Associates kicked off the day’s events in the Petit Amphitheatre, in his traditionally rousing manner.
10:00-10:15 Welcome From Our Headline Partner // Cam Battley
This historic day would not have been possible without the support of our fantastic partners, and of course our Headline Partner, Canada’s Aurora Cannabis. Cam Battley, Chief Corporate Officer of Aurora welcomed guests, underscoring the importance of cooperation across borders as we work to progress the global medical cannabis industry.
10:15-11:15 Political Substance // A Medicine, A Narcotic + A Plant
The first French-language panel of the day brought together former Premier of New Brunswick, Brian Gallant, with leading European experts in public health, economics and addiction, Professor Pierre-Yves Geoffard of the Paris School of Economics and Dr William Lowenstein, President of SOS Addictions. French Member of Parliament and medical doctor, Olivier Véran joined the conversation via video broadcast.
Professor Geoffard and Dr Lowenstein saw the current French Medicines Agency (ANSM) review of medical cannabis as key to moving forward legislation in France. They voiced concerns that the recommendations so far had been limited to certain conditions, which would prevent France from seeing the same success as the Canadian example. Brian Gallant underscored how cautiously the Canadian programme had been rolled out, and the strict regulations the government imposed on the medicines it allowed.
Integrating the patient’s voice is instrumental for a treatment that enhances wellbeing and the quality of life. That’s why patients are crucial to this process.
Professor Geoffard, Paris School of Economics
10:15-11:15 Busy CEOs // Barriers, Value + Hype
Co-founder of Cannabis Europa and CEO of UK-based Hanway Associates, George McBride fittingly chaired a panel of fellow CEOs from around the globe. Fleta Solomon of Little Green Pharma brought an Australian perspective, joined by Antonio Costanzo of European company EMMAC Life Sciences, and Canadians Rick Brar of Zenabis and Ben Ward of Wayland.
The discussion illuminated how similar many of the challenges faced by business leaders from around the world remain, despite this highly fragmented, nascent industry. Whether you are running a European medical startup, or a publicly listed Canadian company selling into both medical and adult use markets, the focus remains on compliance, human capital and quality local partners.
11:15-12:15 The ‘It’ Drug // European CBD Markets + The Regulations Shaping Them
Our most-tweeted about and instagrammed panel of the day addressed the cannabinoid on everyone’s lips— CBD. Be Cann CEO Joanna Weaver-Pélissier hosted regulatory expert Eveline Van Keymeulen, French Member of Parliament and farmer Jean-Baptiste Moreau, founder of France’s first CBD beauty company Laure Bouguen.
The announcement of the change in status of cannabidiol under the EU’s Novel Food Regulations one week before the conference added to confusing legal status of the compound. This past summer in France, CBD shops operating in what was thought to be a legal grey-area were closed down by the government. The panellists underscored that education and clarification on the drug was being demanded on all levels— from policymakers and traders to everyday consumers.
11:15-12:15 Trust in Trials // The Role Of Clinical Trials In The European Medical Cannabis Industry
This panel’s emphasis on science suited the historic traditions of the halls in which it took place. Dr Catherine Jacobson of Tilray, Dr Rosemary Mazanet of Columbia Care, Rikke Jacobsen of Cannabis Danmark and Dr David McDowell, the first UK specialist doctor to prescribe medical cannabis joined Aurora’s Hélène Moore.
What is clear is that cannabis is unlike any other pharmaceutical drug. Despite the current lack of longitudinal data from clinical studies, anecdotal evidence is pushing legislation forward and giving patients access. There is consensus that across borders, there remains a lack of educational structure for physicians. The way it stands, patients are often the ones educating their doctors on the medical properties of cannabis - something unprecedented in the pharmaceutical world.
12:15-12:35 Coffee Break // La Grande Galerie
12:35-13:35 Pharma Futures // Exploring New Medicines + Cannabinoid-Derived Pharmaceuticals
The overlap between the pharmaceutical world and the medical cannabis industry is increasingly pertinent as countries around the world introduce legislation for cannabis medicines. Tjalling Erkelens of Dutch medical cannabis producer Bedrocan joined regulatory experts Jason Moscovici and Nastasia Bach, plus Alex Hearn of Senzer Pharmaceuticals in exploring the rich potential of pharmaceutical applications for cannabinoids in this panel led by Sofia Sanz.
It’s clear that the high-interest in the topics discussed mirrors the highly complicated nature of standardising a plant with a such myriad of components and applications, which Tjalling Erkelens pointed out is an unprecedented situation in the pharmaceutical world. Jason Moscovici and Alex Hearn underlined the need for harmonisation and cooperation across borders. Nastasia Bach noted that while Germany’s medical programme currently allows flower, the government sees this as an intermediary solution— the goal is finished pharmaceutical products.
12:35-13:35 Cannabis Capital // The Ebb + Flow Of Value In A Nascent Industry
Co-founder of Cannabis Europa, Stephen Murphy of European Cannabis Holdings led a lively discussion on investment opportunities in European markets with Marion Zammit of Malta Enterprise, Alex Brooks of Canaccord Genuity, Zineb Mekouar of The Family and Dr Inbar Maymon-Pomeranchik, CEO of Biodiligence.
The panelists examined how governments could position themselves to attract FDI from international cannabis companies. One example is Malta— Marion Zammit explained that cannabis has become a core pillar of the Maltese government's investment strategy, with a dedicated task-force supported by the Prime Minister. While the group agreed that institutional investors interest is increasing, a lack of clear guidance from regulatory authorities slows progress. Countries interested in promoting growth in this sector should improve access to seed capital for cannabis companies, as current incubators have been slow to adapt to this market.
13:35-14:45 Lunch // La Grande Galerie
Halfway through the day guests were treated to a delicious gourmet meal in Maison de la Chimie’s Grand Galerie, thanks to our Lunch Partner Zenabis.
14:45-15:45 Political Patients // Putting Patients At The Core Of Policy Development
More than anything, this panel highlighted the necessity for communication between patients, their physicians, and politicians. Aurélien Bernard of French publication Newsweed led patient advocates Sebastien Cotte and Marie ‘Mado’ Gilanton in conversation with doctor and professor Amine Benyamina and French Member of Parliament Michèle Peyron.
When MP Michèle Peyron said she would lean towards a limited, precautionary approach to medical cannabis legislation, she was met with strong opposition from Dr Benyamina, who stressed the urgency of the situation for patients. The room heard this clearly, with Sebastien Cotte explaining how his family were forced to become ‘medical refugees’ to access the life-saving medication for his son Jagger, and Mado Gilanton who said that at least once a year patients she worked with left for Switzerland to seek palliative care, unable to access medicines that would vastly improve their quality of life.
We are at an impasse.We are forced to ask our children to look for medicine for us.
Mado Gilanton, APAISER
14:45-15:45 World Stage // Europe’s Role In The International Industry
Anyone following the status of medical cannabis around the world can agree— global policy is shifting at an exponential rate. International cannabis analyst Alfredo Pascual led a discussion on the role Europe will play in the evolving global cannabis industry with Andrés Lopez of the Colombian National Narcotics Fund, Olivier Dufourmantelle of Canopy Rivers, Laurène Tran of ACTIVE and Khalid Tinasti from the Global Commission on Drug Policy.
With the WHO’s recommendations on cannabis released just days before the conference, the panel teased out the significance of the (at the time) impending discussion of the resolution that was sitting in the European Parliament. There was a consensus on the need for a European resolution on the matter, to govern regional rules for cannabis trade. The resolution they discussed passed just a week after the conference. Whether it will provide an impetus for European governments to change their legislation is sure to be a topic at this spring’s Cannabis Europa in London.
15:45-16:45 In Conversation // Bernard Kouchner + Laura-Jane Gautier
The conference’s keynote featured a speaker who is no stranger to the Maison de la Chimie, Bernard Kouchner, in conversation with journalist Laura-Jane Gautier. A co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières and Médecins du Monde, he served as a Minister in both right and left-wing governments in France.
Always one to exceed expectations, he surprised the audience with appearances by his guests and colleagues Patrick Aeberhard and Bertrand Lebeau. He underscored one of the key takeaways from the day: putting a human face on these issues is key to increasing understanding and cooperation at a governmental level.
15:45-16:45 Local Global // The Politics Of Medical Cannabis
This panel integrated some of the most prominent actors from the medical cannabis legal regulation political processes in France, the EU and Uruguay. Chair Benjamin-Alexandre Jeanroy led speakers on a wide range of issues, going from the complex European policy making case with MEP Guillaume Balas, to the on-going actions in France with local elected official Eric Correia and MP Ludovic Mendes, as-well-as the lessons to be learned from the 5 years in the making of the historical legal regulation in Uruguay with Dr Raquel Peyraube.
While Dr Peyraube underlined the necessity to focus future regulation on patient access, Guillaume Balas pointed out the risks of limiting cannabis based-medicines to strictly pharmaceutical products. Eric Correia called for greater boldness from the French government, while Ludovic Mendes reflected on his own experience and what it meant for his constituency to have France so far behind in the current medical cannabis regulation wave. There is no doubt this discussion helped conclude this historic conference on a high and hopeful note for patients, as the panelists continually echoed a theme we heard throughout the day—- patients are, and should be the focal point of all future action on this issue.
17:00-19:30 Drinks Reception // Room 151
The day drew to a close with the finest champagne and food Paris has to offer, with our guests continuing the day’s conversations in our beautiful venue.
Cannabis Europa is proud to be the foremost arena to share knowledge and shape the future of medical cannabis in Europe. We are overjoyed with the success of our Paris conference, and will continue to work to promote the important conversations that were started on the day.
Many thanks and merci beaucoup to the guests, partners, speakers and staff without whom this would not have been possible.
If you were unable to attend the Paris conference, we encourage you to join us at Cannabis Europa in London this coming 24-25 June. Leaders of the medical cannabis industry will gather in the heart of the city at London's world class cultural hub, the Southbank Centre. This two-day event will explore the latest developments in the UK market and the professionalisation of the industry across the European continent.
Please be aware that tickets are limited, and enthusiasm and interest in Europe’s medical cannabis sector is growing every day. Reserve your place early to avoid disappointment.
#CannabisEuropa "Le problème en France, c'est que personne ne connaît le CBD, et on sur-simplifie les choses dans les média." @laurebouguen qui parle de CBD et THC, cannabis thérapeutique, bien-être, et récréatif au @cannabiseuropa pic.twitter.com/erkTnOS6Mk— Christophe Seltzer (@seltzer_c) February 8, 2019
🌱Nous sommes prêts en #Creuse pour expérimenter le #cannabisThérapeutique. Cela doit être une 1ere étape vers le cannabis bien-être qui représente des débouchés beaucoup plus importants pour nos filières agricoles françaises et répond aux demandes des citoyens! #CannabisEuropa pic.twitter.com/FfpemLthcz— Jean Baptiste Moreau (@moreaujb23) February 8, 2019
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Amazing few days in Paris for 🇫🇷 @cannabis.europa as always fantastic speakers & a great audience from across the world it was great to connect with new faces & catch up with those who we met last year & see how everyone is navigating through the industry with rapid growth, changes & challenges. #ohanalcbd #ohanalifestyle #cannabiseuropa #paris #france #cbd #cbdoil #cannabisindustry
“ At @_TheFamily we believe education is essential. That’s why we have hosted several workshops on the booming EU CBD industry with both a branding and investment angle.— Laurène Tran 📚🍀🇪🇺 (@LaureneTran91) February 8, 2019
More&more talented people are looking to enter the CBD industry!”
.@Zineb__Mekouar #CannabisEuropa pic.twitter.com/tFOJhdpzOw
#CannabisEuropa "Soit on met sur le marché le cannabis thérapeutique, soit on ne le met pas. Mais ne pas le mettre de façon frileuse, comme une grenade degoupillée. Sinon on trompe l'opinion. Allez y @MichelePeyron" @Prabenyamina— Christophe Seltzer (@seltzer_c) February 8, 2019
Son rapport @GLthinktank : https://t.co/ohKjZtHRpX pic.twitter.com/otUqqUbTNE
Sharing knowledge is leadership! Giving patients access to address medical conditions is a right! Great to be a part of #CannabisEuropa in #Paris & see Government, industry & medical professionals come together to discuss European medical #cannabis policies. @cannabiseuropa pic.twitter.com/syz0oxtJiI— Barinder S. Bhullar (@B_Bhullar) February 8, 2019
L’efficacité du #CannabisMedicinal dans la gestion de la douleur a été mise en lumière par divers études et rapports. Il s’agit aujourd’hui d’amorcer une véritable coordination en la matière, au niveau français et européen. Colloque #CannabisEuropa #CannabisTherapeutique pic.twitter.com/W2wHcPbohF— Guillaume Balas (@BalasGuillaume) February 8, 2019
Tickets are now available for Cannabis Europa London, which takes place 24-25 June at Southbank Centre. Quantities are limited, reserve your places today to avoid disappointment.