As the dust settles after the inaugural two-day event we’ve gathered some of the best takeaways from the expert talks and panel discussions:
On the Gateway to Asia conference, Glenn Davies (Founder & Group CEO, CannAcubed) discussed the historic shift being seen in policy and public opinion with respect to hemp and CBD in Asia, and how Australian firms might harness this: "We have to fight two fights in Asia. Cannabis is still taboo in many areas of Asian culture and education is needed. It's also hard to give investors a timeline as regulations change at different rates from one country to the next." Glenn Davies, Founder, CannAcubed. In the New Zealand: A Closer Look and Preparing for Legislation Change in Australia and New Zealand panels, a clear focus was the upcoming cannabis referendum in New Zealand on the question of whether to legalise the sale, use, possession and production of cannabis - which is set to become a seminal event that will shape the face of the Asia-Pacific cannabis market in years to come. Expert speakers explored the potential ramifications of this referendum. Previous polling put 60% of New Zealanders in favour of legalisation, explained panelist Ross Bell (Executive Director, NZ Drug Foundation), but since, fear-mongering from the ‘no’ campaign has begun to tip the scales back in the other direction. Now, the ultimate result of the referendum looks likely to rest with the undecided voter — a demographic that is now being targeted with different evocative messaging campaigns from both sides of the issue. “This is not just a referendum for New Zealand. This is a referendum for the world.” Ross Bell, Executive Director, NZ Drug Foundation.
Taking place in the digital medium for the first time in its history, Cannabis Europa, usually held at the Southbank, focussed on a wide array of topics, including adult-use cannabis in Europe, the importance of social and criminal justice reform, and the unique challenges of raising capital in the European cannabis space. "There are very high barriers for entry into Europe for cannabis businesses. To get a licence or to operate in the medical sector requires a huge amount of coordination between the Home Office and HMRA. The process takes around two years." — Nick Davis, CEO, Memery Crystal. In The UK: Pioneer or Passenger?, Crispin Blunt MP (Member of Parliament, British Government) and Liz Shanahan (Director, UDG Healthcare) discussed the future of cannabis in Britain, concluding that it would be a “missed opportunity” if the country were not to be considered a pioneer of the movement in the coming years. “What we have got to try to do is to put ourselves in a place where we play very quick catch-up in science and in research. And also recognise that cannabis, because it is a plant, doesn’t actually lend itself to the current assessment around standard pharmacology practices with the blind trials and everything else, and actually see whether there are different mechanisms and different regulations and different licensing conditions that we ought to be applying to cannabis.” — Crispin Blunt MP, UK Parliament. In Social & Criminal Justice Reform, numerous panelists including ‘Father of the Cannabis Industry’ Steve DeAngelo and Amber Moore (Senior Researcher, Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group) came together to analyse the role the social and criminal justice system should play in the context of future cannabis law reform. Notably Steve DeAngelo discussed the historical debt the cannabis industry owed to people of colour; "Cannabis came to North America and much of the world through the hands of black people, and anybody who is in this business owes a historic debt to people of colour. And we must, as an industry, pay that debt.” — Steve DeAngelo, Chairman & Co-Founder, Harborside Inc. In Making Medical Cannabis in the UK a Reality. Professor Nutt how more than 18 months after cannabis’ rescheduling to allow for medicinal use, fewer than twenty scripts for medical cannabis had been issued on the NHS (although more had been issued privately) "One of the things that the government did [...] was that they limited the prescribing to specialists. Now, most of the indications for which cannabis is going to be useful, are indications that are driven and run out of primary care. If you've got PTSD and you want to see a specialist, well there's, say, three in the country. They've created a huge bottleneck for access to specialists, which is insurmountable." — Professor David Nutt, Director of Neuropharmapsychology, Imperial College London & Former Chief Drugs Advisor to the UK Government. In Cultural Revolution: On and Off Screen panellists the long view of how cannabis as a cultural phenomenon has changed over the years, examining the role that the entertainment industry has played in these shifting perceptions. Social entrepreneur and musician CJ Wallace and son of the late Notorious B.I.G reflected on the significant challenges faced by people of colour seeking to enter the legal cannabis space. “I feel like I'm one of the only cannabis owners in the space who is Black and under-25.” CJ Wallace, Founder, Think BIG.
Building Successful Cannabis Brands discussed creating meaningful and engaging brands that bring cannabis into the mainstream and how that can only be achieved with a sharp understanding of the stakes of legalisation. “This touches everything. It touches music, it touches medicine and it touches culture. This is a movement and we need to think about our role within that.” Jason White, CMO, Curaleaf. There was also a focus on how the laws against cannabis have been a catalyst for racism and prejudice across the globe for the best part of a century. “The way cannabis has been policed has been part of the way black people have been racially profiled and persecuted for decades.” Willie Mack, Social Entrepreneur & Co-Founder, Think BIG. Market fluctuations in the North American cannabis market have led to a significant shift in investor behaviour in recent months, as investors instead look to seek out new international opportunities within the cannabis sector. In the panel Investing in New Geographies, a panel of business and investment experts examined the potential of some of these rapidly emerging markets being seen across the globe. “China is the underestimated market in cannabis. Everything you see in pharma today and that is required in a pharmaceutical market — China knows how to do it. We've already learned from COVID-19 just how dependent we've become on China in virtually every other market.” Roderick Stephan, Partner, Altitude Investment. In The Global Cannabis Consumer keynote, Prohibition Partners’ Insights and Reports Director Alexandra Curley presented a wealth of insights and data focussing on global consumption patterns, consumer preferences, and important regulatory changes that industry players should be aware of. “2020’s ‘Black Swan’ was undeniably COVID-19, which has turned everything we knew about the world on its head. While this has been bad news for many, it could be that disruption to the status-quo spells an opportunity for cannabis.Consumer research from Prohibition Partners found that most users either expect coronavirus to have no impact on their purchase habits, or expect their consumption to increase. This is most true in categories that are more likely to be used for health and wellness, such as medicinal cannabis and CBD, e.g. oils, tinctures, gummies etc.” Alexandra Curley, Insights & Reports Director, Prohibition Partners. Rounding off the Cannabis Americana stage, Grammy-Nominated performer and “Milkshake” singer Kelis Rogers joined TedX Speaker and SXSW Board Advisor Oisin Lunny to discuss all things cannabis and music in The Sound of Cannabis talk, followed by The Cannabis Cookalong — an opportunity for attendees to cook a cannabis-infused dish of empanadas alongside Kelis, who is also a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef. “When you’re naturally creative, cannabis can help you present and express that in an un-anxious way. If you’re an artist and, if you’re any good, you’re bearing your soul to the world and it helps to be able to present that.” Kelis Rogers, Grammy-Nominated Performer. ProCapital, in partnership with MAZAKALI In State of the Public Cannabis Markets, providing an overview of the current market landscape. Regarding a third wave of cannabis investments in the public market, Alan Brochstein highlighted that there is currently a focus on sustainable growth. “Third wave success is essential to the growth of the industry”, he stated. “States are suffering from high unemployment rates as well as budget deficits that are beyond imagination, and as a result cannabis legalization is likely to take place across many more states in the next couple of years.” Alan Brochstein, Founding Partner, New Cannabis Ventures. Representing two of the industry’s leading data providers, Micah Tapman of BDSA and Stephen Murphy of Prohibition Partners presented the talk The Data Mosaic; Actionable Insights with Investment Takeaways. “The global cannabis market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 21% through 2025.” Micah Tapman, Executive Chairman, BDSA.
PSYCH: THE PSYCHEDELICS SYMPOSIUM
The Psychedelics Symposium provides a platform for the scientists and business leaders working at the forefront of the psychedelics space to present their latest findings and expert analysis on this unique industry with the focus being on psychedelics as medicine for the treatment of mental health. Panel discussions on Data, Tech & Community in Psychedelics, Showing Initiative: Psychedelic Decriminalisation and its Impact on Policy Reform and Psychedelics for Depression & Wellbeing highlighted several important issues in the space and discussed just how truly revolutionary advances in this area will be: "Any mental health issue that responds to psychotherapy will respond to psychedelics with psychotherapy, just better." Dr. Ben Sessa, Chief Medical Officer, Awkn Life Sciences. Experts on psychedelic medicine also discussed the role that psychedelics can play, both inside and outside clinical settings, in alleviating depression and other mental health conditions, enhancing personal wellbeing. “There's so much division in the US at present — psychedelics may play a role in bringing the unity we need to move forward.” Robert W.E Laurie, Board Advisor, MAPS & International Lawyer, Ad Lucem Law. In Psychedelics for Substance Use panels the panel discussed how there should be a focus on actively convincing policymakers to pursue the rescheduling of important psychedelics such as psilocybin. “We have a mental health crisis happening right now, a reflection on the war on drugs being a failure. The paths well-trodden haven’t worked.” Ronan Levy, Co-Founder & Executive Chairman, Field Trip Psychedelics Inc. Anyone who missed the live event has the option to access all 120+ hours of debate aired across the five event stages on-demand for 30 days after the event for $59. Tickets available now - https://prohibitionpartners.live/