The second annual International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin showcased both how far Germany’s cannabis community has progressed over the past year as well as the growth that it needs. The medical cannabis patient community has grown virtually exponentially after changes to the law have allowed doctors to prescribe cannabis the same as they would any other medicine and mandated that insurers reimburse many patients for the cannabis they pick up from their pharmacy.
It was great to learn from so many great German activists and entrepreneurs. Personally, highlights for me included hearing from longtime advocate Georg Wurth, leader of the German Cannabis Association, and Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen, the Godfather of German Medical Cannabis Movement, who received the ICBC’s Lifetime Achievement Award from founder Alex Rogers. Reviews of the curriculum and networking have been great and MC Ngaio Bealum helped keep attendees engaged and entertained.
While Germany’s medical model would be the envy of just about every nation, problems still persist. Too many doctors are still unknowledgeable about the medicinal benefits of cannabis and refuse to prescribe to patients; insurers put up too many red tape obstacles; and the cost of cannabis remains prohibitive, without much variety in strains and completely without legal cannabis extracts, concentrates, edibles and other products enjoyed by patients in other programs around the globe. As cannabis moves more mainstream, education will increase and we can expect to see more German doctors, businesses, bureaucrats and elected officials help move marijuana laws forward. Soon, Germany will license in-country producers, eliminating the need to import as much cannabis, which should help bring costs down.
Canadians across the cannabis space were featured prominently on many panels at the Berlin ICBC and for good reason. Not only do Canadian companies export cannabis to German pharmacies, but they are also major players around the world as legalizing medical nationally, along with a long progressive history with the plant, has given Canadians a leg up on the rest of the world in the burgeoning international market. With Canada ending prohibition for all adults in the near future, industry professionals from the Great White North will continue to be worldwide leaders (we’ll see if the United States shapes up soon).
It is very fitting that Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is the next stop for the ICBC as the one-of-a-kind event heads to one of the top cannabis-friendly destinations in the world this June, just before the governing Liberal Party was initially expected to legalize cannabis commerce across the country in July. While licensed and regulated commercial sales to all adults have been delayed a bit, June will still be a great time to learn the latest and plan for the future.
The Berlin ICBC featured prominent Canadian activists and entrepreneurs like Jamie Shaw, Robert Laurie, Alex Revich, Clint Younge, Nick Pateras, Dr. Allen Greenspoon, Chuck Rifici, Philip Campbell, Maxim Zavet, Ben Rispin, and Stephen Verbeek. You can count on the ICBC to have another informative networking event that combines business, politics, and culture like no other this June 24th and 25th. I am excited about ICBC returning to Vancouver, one of my favorite cities, and if you are in the cannabis industry, or are thinking of joining, you should join us.