Canadian CANNAINVESTOR Magazine July / August 2017 - Page 105

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The origins of modern industrial pharmaceuticals date back to the second half of the 19th century where we finally witnessed the marrying of scientific concepts and rationalization and experimentation from the 17th century and the production of goods that occurred during the industrial revolution of the 18th century. Merck was a pioneer in this movement. They were quite possibly the earliest to use experimentation and scientific research, and couple it with mass production. Originating as a pharmacy founded in Darmstadt in 1668, it was in 1827 that Heinrich Emanuel Merck began the transition towards an industrial and scientific concern, by manufacturing and selling alkaloids. Other companies followed, such as GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer, another modern day pharmaceutical company founded by two German immigrants.

Parallels exist in the emerging cannabis industry that we see today. You can virtually search and replace the word “pharmaceutical” and replace it with “cannabis”. The unknown remains on who will be the Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, or Pfizer in the cannabis sector.

Surprisingly unlike traditional pharmaceutical medicine of the past, it is appearing as if Germany will not lead this revolution in the cannabis sector. Although recently it was announced that they plan to launch domestic cannabis cultivation by 2019, the market in Germany relies solely on imported cannabis and is currently being supplied by quite a few Canadian companies, as well as from the Netherlands. Germany’s Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), responsible for licensing and regulating planting, harvesting, processing of cannabis for medical purposes and quality control, will have a hard time incorporating new German licensing applications as many international companies have considerable experience that has taken time to gain. One interested applicant, Jurgen Scholz, along with several businesspersons, echoes those sentiments: “the large companies have a clear competitive advantage but I hope the BfArM will take into account that German firms don’t yet have so much experience in the field”. New rules for quality control, testing, identifying strain characteristics, and the like, are something Germany’s illegal growers will struggle with in legalizing their businesses. And until that day comes, it appears that Canadian companies will be entrenched in Germany.