The first ever batch of Australian-grown medicinal cannabis flower exports to the European Union (EU) has just been shipped to Germany, as part of a deal expected to be worth $92 million over 10 years.
Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG) secured a partnership with German wholesaler Cannamedical Pharma in 2018, with plans at the time to be distributing medicinal cannabis across German pharmacies from 2019.
The breakthrough shipment may have been delayed, but is still a national first for the industry with two tons of ANTG's locally cultivated dried medicinal cannabis to be shipped over the next 18 months.
ANTG chief executive officer Matt Cantelo says the partnership represents a huge step for the Australian sector as the European Union is one of the most advanced around its cannabis legislation.
The EU also has strict regulations on imports, only recognising Good Agricultural Practice and Good Manufacturing Practice (GACP/GMP) standards - a level ANTG recently received as the first Australian company to do so.
"This is a major win for the industry in Australia. While the German cannabis industry is still in its infancy, it is the third largest market globally behind the US and Canada", says Cantelo.
"We are the first local growers to crack the EU market, which currently receives the majority of imported products from Canada and The Netherlands.
"Now that we have the gold standard in growing and manufacturing medicinal cannabis - in line with the most stringent in the world - it means our product also qualifies for export to every other nation.
ANTG's growing and manufacturing facility complies with international quality standards (GACP and GMP) - from the quality of the water to the light and amount of carbon dioxide in the air.
"The high benchmarks in Australia have been a welcome approach - it sets us up as the best in the world and it keeps the cowboys out of the industry," Cantelo says.
"Australia also has the reputation and climate for growing excellent produce in general - it makes sense that we would produce the highest quality, non-irradiated medicinal cannabis product as well."
The market for medicinal cannabis in Germany is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade, with an average price per gram at 5-7 Euros, with cannabis consultancy firm Prohibition Partners forecasting that it will reach $12.4b by 2028.
Cannamedical Pharma CEO David Henn notes both teams have worked extremely closely and hard over the past two years to achieve this milestone.
"We are pleased to be the first brand in Germany to offer a continuous supply of Australian-grown, high-THC medicinal cannabis to all our 3.000 pharmacy clients," Henn says.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia is poised to become a recognised leader in the global supply of the highest quality medicinal cannabis products.
"Australia's gold-standard regulation of medicinal cannabis products, coupled with a premium agricultural and manufacturing industry, means we are well positioned to become a preferred supplier to the global market," Minister Hunt says.
"This has the potential to create jobs and boost economic growth in Australia as we look to new and different export channels."
"In the next 12 months, we are projecting strong growth in the medicinal cannabis industry, both domestically and in the export market."
He says the government continuing to work with the industry to expand domestic cultivation and manufacture, and ensure an ongoing supply of medicinal cannabis products derived from locally grown cannabis and manufactured wholly in Australia."
"We congratulate Australian Natural Therapeutics Group for this milestone, which represents the first major commercial exportation of medicinal cannabis to the EU," he says.
ANTG is also just weeks away from releasing NSW's first locally cultivated and manufactured commercial medicinal cannabis extract.
"First and foremost, we will make our product available to Australian patients," Cantelo says.
"Right now, due to high barriers of entry, the majority of medicinal cannabis used by Australian patients is still being imported from Canada," says Cantelo, adding that ANTG could probably service the entire Australian market at the current numbers.Never miss a news update, subscribe here. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
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