‘Medicinal cannabis summit timely given economic challenges’

It’s only two months until New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis summit, MedCan 2020, with organisers saying the economic potential of New Zealand’s most exciting sunrise industry is more important than ever before.

MedCan Summit 2020 will take place on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 November at the Aotea Centre in central Auckland. Originally scheduled for March, it was postponed due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“Despite economic uncertainty, by 2025 medicinal cannabis is forecast to be a US$55 billion global industry. For New Zealand, it could deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in extra export earnings. In fact, we now need to make sure it does,” says Dr Zahra Champion, Executive Director of BioTechNZ and MedCan Summit 2020 organiser.

Focusing on quality, she believes, is where New Zealand can succeed globally, as it has with manuka honey and wine. Trade could prove extremely lucrative, with more than 60 countries having legalised medicinal cannabis.

“We cannot compete on the world stage as commodity sellers, churning out unprocessed product at scale. We can, however, develop and deliver high-quality products backed by science, technology and clinical trials,” she says.

As well as exploring the economic opportunities and navigating the new regulations, MedCan Summit 2020 will ensure a greater scientific and medical understanding of cannabis, ultimately helping to advance the nation’s overall public health by ensuring better patient outcomes.

“Sadly, many of the remarkable benefits of cannabinoid compounds remain poorly understood by healthcare professionals. In fact, GPs not knowing enough about the plant’s primary constituents, THC and CBD, remains the biggest barrier to Kiwi patients accessing medicinal cannabis,” says Dr Champion.

Summit organisers, BioTechNZ, say despite tickets almost totally selling out several months ago, limited tickets remain, with prescribers and pharmacists particularly encouraged to register. Delegates will hear from over 40 world-leading and local subject experts, presenting either in-person or virtually.

“Our post-Covid economic recovery relies on new industries, investment, and jobs. New Zealand is strongly placed to be the premier new-world medicinal cannabis producer, leveraging its positive brand, highly regarded research expertise and scientific collaboration, and can-do entrepreneurial spirit. It’s time to come together and push play,” says Dr Champion.

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