Last Friday, we launched our first ever Clearly Cannabis chat with special guest Alex Rogers of ICBC. Here is the video, which is a little rough, but then again, so are we. It’s an unedited conversation – warts and all – with the Cannabis industry leaders talking about the industry, trends, frustrations, and hopes for the future. Clearly, Cannabis is a joint effort brought to you by CannaClear.de and CannaList.biz. Our hosts were Marguerite Arnold and Patrick Doherty.
Below, I captured some of the highlights from the conversations.
One of the most exciting things is that people are starting to get interested in is the WHO’s rescheduling of Cannabis as a schedule 2 drug in December.
We can we backtrack maybe just for those that aren’t as up-to-date with what that all means. The World Health Organization has been booting this question about what to do with the rescheduling of Cannabis and the potential impact on the medical markets. Rescheduling it will potentially open up medical markets across Europe.
Then where does that leave recreational use? The European Union will move forward with recreational, which is also coming quickly. I mean, Luxembourg is going to go online hopefully in the next year or so. On the CBD side, they may reschedule CBD. This would put the whole question about what kind of animal is this in Europe firmly in the, I guess, the regulators’ hands.
The regulators in Brussels may decide to go ahead and make the flower and everything that’s extracted from the leaves novel food. They’re going to stick the entire plant no matter what kind of cannabinoid comes from it into the novel food category if it’s being used recreationally.
Which will, of course, have that huge upfront fee of three hundred thousand per every time you go for an application with anything in it
They’re going to say that any cannabinoid coming from the plant is a novel food. And anything that is pressed from the leaves or the or the flowers is going to be novel, which is you know is undoubtedly a setback. I would expect to see lawsuits and challenges on that front because this would limit access to the market by prohibitive fees.
Right now, the European industrial hemp Association is trying to create a consortium and raise two million euros to develop a formula for formulations of CBD that will pass all of the regulatory musters everywhere. So if you’re part of the coalition, you don’t have to pay 300,000 per application. You can pay between ten and fifteen thousand to become part of the coalition, and then that way, you’re included in that. I think that they might go that way with the recreational side.
And that’s going to limit who can come to the table because it’s just going to be this big upfront price tag if you want to play.
But so far from what I’ve seen here in Europe, they don’t want to deal with it.
There are also existing cannabis club structures throughout Europe that do not necessarily want to see change. As much as people will say they want this, the existing organizations operating the way they are operating. They don’t want this to change. It’s a cash business. That’s not taxed. You know that is working for them. And you know when you talk to them, some of them are like, “Oh, yeah – we’d love to have banking, and we’d love to have insurance. We’d love to have more protection. But you know, they also were looking at taxation, and they’re looking at compliance and things like that. So the existing structure, whether you want to call it the black market or club alternative, whatever it might be, isn’t that a big hurry for this to happen.
Patrick, can you tell us about CannaList.eu what you’re doing?
We intend to support the EU cannabis ecosystem. I was a venture capitalist, and I understand that you need an ecosystem for startups to survive. You need technology. It would be best if you had investors. You need funding. Currently, there are a lot of disparate pieces within the cannabis ecosystem, and we are just trying to collect those pieces and map out those pieces. So that startups can understand what the distribution channels are, or through a tool like CannaClear.de will understand compliance and the regulations in the various member states and jurisdictions.
If somebody is coming to the cannabis industry, they will know where do you even start and how to ensure you meet the compliance standards. We are hoping to map all that so that a new entrant can understand the process.
Alex Rogers is, I would say, a pioneer in the industry who has been in it for 20 plus years internationally. He will be kicking off something kind of new next week. Still, apart from that, ICBC has, I would say, as far at least in my opinion, the most exciting, best international conference that I had ever been to on Cannabis that kicked off in 2017, and it’s growing like gangbusters.
You want to talk to us a little bit about the digital conference coming up next week.
You know, three months four months ago, if you told me we were doing a digital conference, I would have told you you’re crazy, and of course, here we are now, and yeah, it’s an exciting thing. I said I never would do a digital conference because, you know, I’m such kind of an old-fashioned breaking mortar guy. But, in challenging times, you make changes. Of course, we are going to do our brick and mortar events. They’re all being rescheduled. Most of them really for the fall.
But you know, I just wanted to keep my the ICBC patrons engaged, and they weren’t engaged for four months. And everyone wasn’t engaged with anything. You know the world disengaged unless you are talking about COVID.
And well, what do we do, you know to make it different – was to get some great speakers obviously. Still, I also got many famous cannabis superstars. If you will find that we’re going to interweave throughout the otherwise cerebral programming to have like smoke breaks with Tommy Chong or Doug Benson.
I thought that it was essential to bring little moments of levity to the otherwise cerebral conference. Lastly, we will have virtual exhibitor booths. There are just all types of new possibilities. The digital format is allowing for opportunities that I didn’t know existed. You have some different tools that you wouldn’t otherwise have just done brick and mortar.
Through our app, you can click live to watch a live stream to watch programming. You can see who all the participants who have signed up that you can connect. Vendors will have products available with products download via PDF files that you can look view. You can network directly with them right there.
I think there will be a lot of people connecting, and of course, it’s, and there’s nothing like face to face, but we expect 1,500 – 2,000 attendees. There’s going to be some there should be some fierce networking going on, and I think it will be pretty entertaining.
Where do you see the industry going? I mean, obviously, there’s this been global meltdown and disruption, but where do you see cannabis fitting into all of this?
Well, you know. It’s funny because I own medical dispensaries. I have owned them for 11 years now. I’ve owned a Medical Marijuana Clinic that I started and founded in Oregon, where I live. I just wrote an article for a local paper here that talks about one of my businesses (Conferences) coming to a screeching halt and the other (Medical) thriving.
The one that came to the screeching halt is the ICBC – we’re now finally getting beyond that doing the digital events.
On the other hand, my Medical Marijuana clinic is booming, and there’s a couple of reasons for that. One reason is that up until now, medical authorization was a cumbersome process. But in light of COVID, now it is completely moved digital online. They just made it all telemedicine. So, now my doctors can give patients a recommendation over the phone.
All they need is your card and the renewal. They don’t even need to see you. And at the clinic, all we need is some documentation and holler at you on the phone for five minutes. So, patients are coming out in droves because the process is less cumbersome. It costs the same, but a lot of people will now take advantage of the new process.
Here’s an example where a cannabis entrepreneur like me has two businesses, two different fields if you will, and one of them came to a standstill and was very much disrupted the ICBC, and the other thrived.
So when it comes to the future of Cannabis faced with general disruption of society – I think Cannabis is a winner in general. Suppose you remember what happened with the last recession we had – cannabis activists talked about legalizing Cannabis because it’s a human right. It’s a human and civil thing to do.
After the recession, activists saw a huge window of opportunity by focusing on the economics of Cannabis, and that’s what would usher in legalization in different respective states than that in the United States, and that’s precisely what happened. So in terms of cannabis policy reform, we got this economic problem that legalization – job creation and tax generation- can be solved.
I think I think it’s going to expedite the rapidity of change with regards to cannabis reform.