We sat down with Andrew de Roy to talk about Cannabis & Poland, ahead of Tuesday’s Central European Cannabis Forum:
- Who are you and what is your connection to medicinal cannabis?
My professional career has been as a risk consultant and corporate investigation specialist. I have built over the past 12 years Bearstone Global, a risk consultancy with offices in Poland, Berlin and opening in London. Over this time we have increasingly been working in the fascinating space of medical cannabis as the industry has developed at such great speed over the past few years. The industry is not only fast-moving but obviously also controversial, as the industry goes from Black to White, most visibly in North America, but also in greater frequency in Europe. We have worked on numerous projects for clients in the industry, most notably pre-transaction due diligence in M&A transactions, compliance issues, licensing as well as competitive intelligence.
As the industry has developed, Poland is one of the more interesting countries in Europe in terms of progressive laws and numbers of registered patients. The industry requires the development of a more organized ecosystem and the ability to speak with one voice on issues which are key for the whole industry in general.
- What is the status of medicinal cannabis in Poland right now, how is it seen culturally?
The industry is still in a very nascent form in Poland. The law change happened in 2017 with a brilliant mother of a sick child becoming an expert, and being great on television, going viral. The law change happened as it was literally impossible to not support her! Poland has about 3000 patients at present but suffers from a lot of the same issues that other countries have, in terms of lack of education and knowledge of the medical profession, as well as lack of products in the pharmacies. Moreover, there are many products waiting to be registered, and there are significant bottlenecks in the registration process. There are many theories as to why that is.
- Why did you organize a conference on medicinal cannabis in Poland, what you do want to achieve?
I am organizing the event in order to educate, network and help the industry speak with one voice in Poland, and also to help regional integration within the industry. I am convinced that Poland has huge potential to develop businesses, as well as be a leader in an industry which still has such a significant room for innovation and development. We hope that the conference will result in a Memorandum of Understanding for a Polish Medical Cannabis Association, which will in turn allow synergies to be found by the major players on issues such as dealing with the Polish authorities and regulators, dealing with any crises that appear, provide a single voice on issues where there is agreement and ultimately help patients get a better service and access to medicines that makes them better. We hope that a more collaborative approach will assist everyone within the ecosystem, from cultivators to companies, and of course right through to the patients, who are the most important here.
- What are the topics you are going to address and on what basis did you develop the program?
We will speak about the situation in Poland, Germany and the Central European region. We will look to stimulate interesting debate among the players in the aftermath of the Polish elections, and we will drill down into what the realities are for patients at present in Poland. We will also have panels on investment to help capital raising as the industry develops across all of the verticals. We will also be looking to help educate doctors, pharmacists as well as all of the ancillary professionals such as lawyers, PR specialists and others.
- Who are the biggest players in Poland?
The super-Mum in Poland is Dorota Gudaniec. She is a real story of modern Poland in my view. Her 4th child was born with Downs syndrome and severe epilepsy. She has become one of the biggest experts in Poland, with knowledge far above almost all of the doctors in the industry. She has a company Max Hemp which is fast-growing, and already worth a lot of money. Everything she makes is very well deserved!
The two companies with product registered are Aurora and Spectrum. TGOD and Stillcanna are the two firms that have made significant acquisitions in Poland. We have done a quite significant report on the Polish market, which we would be happy to share with anyone interested in learning more.
- What are your thoughts on medicinal cannabis in Poland in the near future?
The election in a few weeks will likely show a lot! We have just had 4 new products registered in Poland raising the overall number to 5, and there is a significant pipeline of products in line. There are rumours that all registrations have been halted, but this has not been verified officially, and there is much confusion about this. What is certain is that at present the process is cumbersome and difficult. We also have issues in terms access for patients and cost, which is very much in line with many others in Europe.