Cannatrek CEO Tommy Huppert has said the Australian medical cannabis industry is well positioned to innovate, but it needs support from the Government and economic security if it is to achieve its potential.
Huppert told Cannabiz: “Innovation in product development will happen. It’s great to talk about that, but the glue is missing: the economic confidence. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow as far as things like import tariffs are concerned. So many of these things come down to the stroke of a pen and this is a capital intensive industry.”
Huppert called on the Government – especially the Therapeutic Goods Administration – to create more clarity for owners and investors.
He said more transparency on things such as import tariffs and proposed rebates through the PBS would aid industry confidence and support investment.
“The market buzz has imploded here and there have been major investment losses. There aren’t many companies that are trading higher than at their IPO,” said Huppert.
While the Victorian Government has said it wants to make the state the growing capital of Australia, Huppert said the industry would need more confidence before it invests.
“Why would you build a plant here? It’s too risky,” he said.
Huppert said Cannatrek’s game plan is to ‘disrupt the whole supply chain’ because it wants Australians to be able to buy from Australians.
“We always want to be in the lowest bar of pricing because we want to make sure patients can afford it,” he added.
Huppert said he is calling on the Government to financially partner with the industry to make this happen.
He said a fund of A$100 million for the cannabis industry would encourage companies in the sector to ‘sharpen their pencils to pitch ideas’.
“We have a shovel-ready project with potential to employ many people. The real question is whether we going to be accepting product from overseas or does the Government want to secure our own supply chain ecosystem?” said Huppert.
Earlier this week, federal health minister Greg Hunt called on the industry to pitch him ideas on how the Government could help the industry grow.
Huppert said the TGA should make CBD an over-the-counter medication in a way which allows the industry to pull back from spending on trials and research, invest in other areas and adjust their pricing model.
“The Government has decided to classify a plant as a medicine and the patient is ultimately paying for all of this,” he said.
Many in the industry have expressed concern over the TGA’s interim ruling on the down scheduling of CBD, warning the dosage requirements would likely require large and expensive clinical trials.