Berlin (Sep. 24 & 25)

On September 24th & 25th, 2019, The Cannabis Society flew overseas and, with support from Dentons, FTI Consulting, and HelloMD, hosted its two-day Medical Cannabis Conference in Berlin, Germany. 

As a step towards progressing the medical cannabis industry in Europe, the conference brought researchers, lawmakers, regulatory experts, economists and industry experts together to discuss the current state of medical cannabis science, cannabis application, laws and market trends through presentations, panel discussions and 1x1 meetings.

 

DAY ONE

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The conference began with opening remarks given by The Cannabis Society VP, Graeme Davis. Immediately following TCS was the keynote speech from Dr. Adam Norris, MD, DABFM, CCFP where he provided insight into the The Endocannabinoid (eCB) System. 

Adam Norris has been working as a physician in Brantford, Ontario for the past 5 years. He completed his undergraduate studies at Dalhousie University in Neuroscience.Adam received his medical degree from Ross University and did a Family Medicine residency at Northeastern University School of Medicine in Ohio. He is board certified in both Canada and the USA.Dr. Norris is a Family Physician and Medical Director of GreenDot Medical Center, Cannabinoid Clinic. He is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor for Faculty of Family Medicine and Associate Professor at the MGD Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research.This past year, he has taken a role as a consultant for Addiction Medicine at Brantford General Hospital.

The first panel discussion of the morning was on Dosage and Usage of Cannabis. Moderated by Dr. Jonas Vanderzwan, MD, CCFP, the panel included Aras Azadian (CEO, Chairman and Co-Founder, Avicanna), Dr. Robert Pawinski (Chief Medical Officer, Althea), Patricia Frye, MD (Chief Medical Officer, Hello MD), and Tim Dresseman (Research Analyst, Deutsches Institut für Medizinalcannabis).

Among the many questions answered and matters discussed were topics such as how cannabis companies can better market and educate their products to medical practitioners and help them understand how to effectively prescribe to patients, how much emphasis the medical cannabis companies should place on genetics, what the current framework is for clinical trials on formulated products in the cannabis space in Germany and internationally, etc.

Dr. Jonas Vanderzwan, MD, CCFP is a canadian physician with 15 years of primary care experience, and extensive experience in the use of medical cannabis. As lead physician of a local cannabis clinic, he has been involved in the assessment and care of approximately 1500 patients, using cannabis as a treatment in a wide range of clinical conditions. As an early adopter of cannabis as a therapeutic agent, he has had the opportunity to travel the World, educating other medical professionals and patient groups on both the use and potential benefits of cannabis. Dr. Vanderzwan is an active consultant in the medical cannabis environment, having worked with both private and public players in the space, and since 2018 has been serving as Medical Director, and Chair of the Medical Advisory Board, for a Health Canada approved Licensed Producer of medical cannabis. In addition to ongoing membership in several international cannabinoid medicine organizations, Dr. Vanderzwan has most recently been appointed Vice-Chair of the Ontario Medical Association’s medical cannabis interest group.

Utilizing his extensive senior management experience in both financial and bio-technology sectors, Aras Azadian co-founded Avicanna with the vision of establishing a bio-pharmaceutical company with a strict focus on medical and pharmaceutical applications of cannabinoids. His expertise in corporate development coupled with his executive experience in the oncology industry have been integral to Avicanna’s thought leadership pertaining to R&D and clinical development. Since 2016 Aras has successfully led a team of executives, scientists and medical professionals across several countries with the vision of vertical integration and a strong company focus on quality controls, scientific vigour and competitive advantages. Aras holds a Bachelor of Economics degree from York University and an International Masters in Management degree from EADA Business School in Barcelona, Spain.

Dr. Robert Pawinski is an experienced Pharmaceutical Physician in both academia and industry. Robert has led a clinical, epidemiology and Health economics research team where he was principal investigator in multiple trials, as well as working as a clinician in the private and public sector in the UK and abroad. Robert has extensive senior experience in two of the Big-Five Global Pharma, and small and mid-sized pharmaceutical companies in a leadership role as QPPV, EU Medical Director. Robert also has experience working at a senior government level with bodies like the WHO, NICE, the MHRA and EMA. Dr Pawinski also has deep knowledge of the EU and Emerging markets from an access and clinical trial perspective, with over 27 peer review publications on pain and infectious diseases which include the Lancet and JAIDS.

Patricia Frye M.D. is Chief Medical Officer of HelloMD and began her journey with medicinal cannabis as the first evaluating physician on the company’s digital healthcare platform. She is professionally certified by the University of Vermont School of Medicine in Cannabis Science and Medicine and serves on the board of the Cannabis Trade Federation and the Society of Cannabis Clinicians.

As an adjunct faculty member in Cannabis Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, she lectures nationally, educating medical providers, patient groups, policy makers, and government agencies on the medical benefits of cannabis. In 2018 she authored and published the book “The Medical Marijuana Guide: Cannabis and Your Health”. 

Tim Dresemann of Deutsches Institut für Medizinalcannabis has always been interested in medicinal plants and especially Cannabis. After studying agricultural sciences and his first job as an agricultural consultant for the cultivation of medicinal plants, Tim went back to university to work as a research associate. All the while, he was waiting for legal opportunities to work in the field of Cannabis. In November 2018, Tim found such an opportunity and started working as a Research Analyst for the German Institute for Medicinal Cannabis (DIFMC). Here, he could finally take a deep dive into large parts of the cannabis-related scientific literature. Since cultivation is just starting in Germany, Tim’s focus has been almost exclusively on medicinal aspects of Cannabis.

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Following the Dosage and Usage of Cannabis panel were the presentations from Peter Homberg (Partner, Dentons) who provided the audience with the insights on Cannabis Prescriptions and the Framework in Europe, and Patricia Frye M.D (Chief Medical Officer, Hello MD) who spoke about the Medical Cannabis and Its Role in Disease Management and Prevention

Peter Homberg is a partner in the Dentons Berlin office. He focuses on life sciences, IP, corporate law and M&A transactions in the life sciences and high-tech sector as well as in R&D and cooperation agreements, cross-border IP licensing and IP strategies. Furthermore, he has extensive experience providing legal advice on compliance issues. Additionally, he is the head of the European Cannabis sector group. Peter advises inter alia companies in the pharmaceutical, diagnostics, biotechnology, medical device and medical cannabis industries—from startups to large publicly listed companies. Furthermore, he has broad transactional experience in Southeast Asia. Peter is a member of the Licensing Executive Society (LES), the German Association for Intellectual Property and Copyright (GRUR), the German Institution for Arbitration (DIS) as well as the Pharma-Lizenz-Club Deutschland e.V. He regularly holds lectures at seminars and conferences. He is the author of numerous professional articles and other publications regarding corporate or IP law in the field of life sciences.

The second panel of the day was focused on the Cannabis Supply Chain. Linus Weber (Founder & CEO at Nimbus Health GmbH), Dean Billington (COO at Brains Bioceutical Corp.), Juriën Koster (Vice-President International Relations, Ofinext and Director at C.I.E.), Benjamin Patock (Head of International Relations, Boveda) joined the moderator Boris Moshkovits (Co-founder & Managing Director, alephSana) to discuss such questions as what  he logistical operations are for importing and exporting, API cannabinoids vs full spectrum products or medical flowers, what the global export hubs are into the German market, what happens next after you have received the product, and if there’s any interest or competition from institutional supply chain companies. 

Boris Moshkovits is a Cannapreneur and experienced founder with a demonstrated history of working in the media, pharma and internet industry. He is the co-founder and managing director of alephSana, a company focused on scouting for qualified medical cannabis products globally and on bringing the best cannabis therapeutics to Germany and Europe. Moshkovits has served as International digital marketing manager in the pharma industry walking the fine line of marketing and digital storytelling in highly regulated markets. As a speaker Moshkovits has been talking about the mainstreaming of medical cannabis and the future of cannabis as a lifestyle product. He is also the co-founder of the CannaBusinessClub.Berlin, an initiative to empower the local cannabis scene. In his publishing career, he was the head of digital media for Ringier Publishing Germany and publisher of Amuse for Vice Media Germany. Prior to this, he has worked as an editor and publisher in Milan, Moscow and New York. 

Linus Maximilian Weber is an experienced Business Consultant, Founder and Chief Executive in the healthcare industry. Linus has been working at Ernst & Young in the Compliance and Quality Management Consulting unit prior joining Fresenius Medical Care the world's leading company in renal care. He is a certified Project Management Consultant and GDP Responsible for the pharmaceutical distribution business. In 2018 after building the Compliance Management System at Fresenius he founded Nimbus Health a fully licensed pharmaceutical wholesaler in Germany, where he serves as Chief Executive Officer. The focus of Nimbus Health is to improve the wellbeing of patients by giving consistent and standardized access to alternative therapies based on Medicinal Cannabis and to reshape the health care system by developing additional Cannabis products.

Dean Billington is COO of Brains Bioceutical, a leading GMP-certified producer and distributor of naturally sourced Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API). Mr. Billington began his career working with pharmaceutical CBD as an executive at GW Pharma. Dean brings a wealth of experience in the global pharmaceutical industry having held previous senior leadership positions, including Global QA at Caligor Rx and Director at Fisher Clinical Services for over six years. Mr. Billington holds a BSc in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry from Huddersfield University.

Juriën Koster is the Vice President of International Relations at Ofinext and Director at C.I.E. He has been active in the cannabis industry since 2017 and has helped to build four different companies from the ground up. Actively developing a professional cannabis industry in The Netherlands and Europe, Juriën is an occasional speaker at cannabis conventions and advisor to trade shows and events. He has expertise in the technical and pharmaceutical aspects of the market.

Benjamin Patock is the Head of International Relations at Boveda. Benjamin cares for one thing: To secure high quality standards for cannabis products around the globe. As Head of International Relations for Boveda (http://www.bovedainc.com), the global leader in 2-way humidity control, he is at the center of this movement, as water activity is one of the most dominant factors for product quality and safety. Boveda, celebrating over 20 years in business, produces a very natural, reliable, stable, safe and at the same time inexpensive and disposable device that controls humidity levels by adding and removing water content within any type of closed container.

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Day One wrapped up with the presentations from Dr. Jonas Vanderzwan, MD, CCFP on Use of Medical Cannabis and the Elderly and Tjalling Erkelens (Founder & CEO, Bedrocan) on his journey building the Bedrocan.

Tjalling Erkelens is the founder of Bedrocan and currently holds the position of CEO / chairman of the board. Back in 1984 he started Bedrocan in the Netherlands together with his brother in law Freerk Bruining, focussing on indoor production of vegetables and herbs. Tjalling is strongly committed to maintaining these family business roots especially now Bedrocan continues to grow.

The cannabis plant came into the company back in 1992 for the first time. Since 2003 Bedrocan provides standardised cannabis of pharmaceutical quality to the Dutch government. It’s the oldest legal company in the world providing several, chemically different cannabis varieties to be used by patients on doctor’s prescription and as a raw material for the pharmaceutical industry (API). 

During these past 26 years, Tjalling has developed and standardised unique methods of producing cannabis to pharmaceutical standards to a level achieved by no other company until today. His strong commitment to product quality resulted in the Dutch Bedrocan production facilities being approved for GMP/API (Good Manufacturing Practice/Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) by the Dutch Health Authorities in 2017.

 

DAY TWO 

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Peter Homberg (Partner, Dentons) kicked off Day Two of the conference witha presentation on The New Regulatory Environment and What Changes Mean for the Industry, immediately followed by Dr. Marc Christian Theurer (Senior Director, FTI Consulting) and Dr. Hartmut Vennen (Senior Managing Director, FTI Consulting) insights on Medical Cannabis and Why Communication Matters.

Dr. Marc Christian Theurer, Senior Director of FTI Consulting, advises companies on their corporate positioning and in special situations. Marc supports his clients in protecting their freedom to operate, meeting their business objectives and in building their reputation among their stakeholders. Over the last twelve years, he has supported a variety of companies from different industries in mission-critical situations requiring an integrated approach targeted at politics and the media. Marc has a particular expertise in the chemicals and pharmaceuticals industry. 

Dr. Hartmut Vennen is a Senior Managing Director in the Strategic Communications segment at FTI Consulting and is based in Frankfurt. For over 25 years, he advises clients on all aspects of communications in success critical crisis and transformation situations in order to help them protect and enhance their reputation and achieve their business ambitions.

Hartmut is a recognized sector specialist in Healthcare, Life Sciences and Chemicals and leads FTI Consulting's Corporate Reputation practice in Germany. One particular focus of his work is on the management of reputational risks. Typical assignments include all aspects of communications in high level crisis situations, legal disputes (litigation, prosecution, international arbitration, product liability and product recalls) and compliance related issues (competition, antitrust, data and cyber security, money laundering or corruption/FCPA related issues).

The first panel discussion of the Day Two touched on Licensed Producers within the cannabis space. Moderated by Ole Heil (Director PR & Communications, Bedrocan), he was joined by Boris Blatnik (CEO, KannaSwiss AG), Gregg Battersby (Managing Director, Europe, Athlea), and Jens Kramer (Vice President, Europe Operations, Avicanna).

The speakers shared relevant insights and experiences when addressing topics such as types of marketing tactics used with current advertising regulations, the obstacles for global distributing products with the current regulations in the EU, if the current market is overvalued and where is the opportunity for them to dominate the market, and others. 

Ole Heil has a Master’s degree in Public and Constitutional Law and a Master’s Degree in History. He worked as the international officer for the Dutch People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) from 2009-2012. After that he has been the spokesperson to the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports in The Netherlands from 2012 – 2019. First 5.5 years for Ms. Edith Schippers, then 1.5 years for mr. Bruno Bruins. In this role he became closely acquainted with the development of Dutch medicinal cannabis regulations.

Since March 2019 he is the director of Public Relations and Communications for Bedrocan, also responsible for Government and Public Affairs.

Boris Blatnik serves as CEO of KannaSwiss. He joined the team in January of 2017 and has been instrumental in the rebranding and business development of the company. Prior to KannaSwiss Boris served as CSO and Co-founder of Numbridge Inc. from 2009 until 2016. Numbridge was a telecommunication app that helped people communicate over the GSM network. Boris served as CEO & Co-founder of Atlas Commercial Holdings from 2004 until 2009. Atlas established an interlocking network of global business alliances and partnerships to provide customized solutions that enable governments and local businesses in emerging markets to stabilize and upgrade their basic infrastructures. Formerly he was Founder & President of V Karting, an integrated go-kart facility with conference rooms, restaurant and entertainment/game space. His experiences range from construction to telecommunications to natural resource consulting working with such companies as MAN Ferrostaal and Petrobras.

Gregg Battersby is Managing Director, Europe at  Athlea. Providing commercial leadership in the EU, with extensive experience in the global medical cannabis industry. Formally VP of Commercial Strategy for Canadian licenced cannabis producer, Aphria Inc. Overseeing commercial aspects of Althea’s European strategy, including business development, supply chain management and operational execution.

The next topic presented at the medical conference by Larry Lisser (SVP, Business Development, HelloMD) highlighted the Educating, Empowering & Onboarding Cannabis Patients Around the Globe. Shortly afterwards, the audience had a chance to listen to the discussion How Software Technology Intersects with the Industry, moderated by Peter Homberg (Partner, Dentons) with the line-up of professionals: Marguerite Arnold (CEO, MedPayRx UG), Larry Lisser (SVP, Business Development, Hello MD), and Prad Sekar (CEO, CB2 Insights).

Marguerite Arnold is a cannabis industry journalist and high tech entrepreneur. She is also the founder of MedPayRx, a unique, compliant seed to sale and digital prescriptions, authorization and payment platform.

Following the last panel was a fireside chat focused on Investing in Cannabis with Moritz Förster (Founder, krautinvest.de) and Simon Tankel (President, Wundr Co.). 

The duo of industry experts discussed topics such as the global and European cannabis market, unique challenges when evaluating the scalability of a cannabis business, and how premium lease rates in the cannabis sector can impact property value.

Moritz Förster is running specific cannabis communication services together with Openers, Berlin's facilitator for innovation and entrepreneurship. He has been Farmako's Head of PR, one of the leading German distributors. Moritz is also the founder of Germany's online B2B magazine for the legal cannabis industry krautinvest.de.

Simon Tankel is the President of Wundr. His previous cannabis experience includes founding Golders Hill (merged into Wundr), Ark Wellness and an investment practice for a family office. Previously, he was Head of Business Development at Sum International, focusing on power plant development and latterly cannabis investing.

Day Two wrapped up with a keynote presentation from Shea Coulson (Partner, Dentons Canada) on Legal Cannabis in Canada: A Year in Review and Trends for the Future.

Shea Coulson is a partner with Dentons Canada LLP and is the national lead of regulatory of the firm’s Canadian cannabis practice. Shea has extensive experience providing regulatory advice to licensed producers, licensed retailers, warehousing and distribution companies, logistics firms, and investors in relation to corporate transactions, financing, commercial agreements, and compliance and enforcement. Shea regularly deal with Health Canada and the provincial regulators in relation to cannabis regulation. Shea also has 10 years of experience advising companies in liquor law and regulation. The regulators of these industries overlap with cannabis regulation at the provincial level. Shea also has a practice in commercial and regulatory litigation. Shea is located in Dentons’ Vancouver, British Columbia office.

 

If you’re interested in being a speaker, sponsor, or attendee at The Cannabis Society’s upcoming conferences, please reach out by emailing community@thecannabissociety.org.

The Cannabis Society