FIVE years in the making South Africa’s first export of medical cannabis flower has arrived in North East of England from a former beer warehouse in Johannesburg
The export was undertaken by MedCan which traces its roots prior to South Africa’s decision to legalise the cultivation of medical cannabis in 2017.
MedCan’s founder and CEO Micaël Zollmann told BusinessCann that the first ever export of medical cannabis flower into the UK is an ‘historic’ moment for his country and the sector.
“This is the culmination of five years of effort and we are now delighted to have delivered our first export. While the initial export is a limited quantity we are set up to continuously deliver based on demand moving forward,” he said.
£8 A Gram
The former beer warehouse covers over 2,000 square meters with only a portion of the facility currently in use. Mr Zollmann says it will build out the facility as the market grows.
MedCan’s high-THC Isando flower contains 16.1% THC, 0.05% CBD and 0.96% CBG and is available to UK patients, with a private prescription, through Sunderland-based Rokshaw Laboratories.
Mr Zollmann added: “It was important to us to get our flower to those that need it and can benefit most and we believe that having our flower in the UK does just that.”
Medical cannabis flowers in the UK are prescribed through the country’s growing bank of private medical cannabis clinics with the average price at £5 per gram. Isando is priced at £8 a gram.
Mr Zollmann added: “At this stage we are maintaining focus on producing high quality, rich tasting and smelling dried flowers.
“Operating a controlled indoor cannabis cultivation, with lights on most of the day and air units running non-stop is costly. This also takes a skilled labour force. All of this adds to the growing costs.
“We have worked hard to ensure that the flowers are price competitive. The product is very high quality so we believe the consumers will be happy.”
UK Is MedCan’s Main Focus
Mr Zollmann said the UK market would remain MedCan’s main focus. It was assisted in the process by Maple Tree Consultants, Rokshaw and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).
MedCan was awarded its cultivation licence by SAHPRA in March 2020, allowing it to grow and export dried cannabis flowers to the global medical cannabis market, and it received its GMP certificate earlier this year.
It is currently one of the few GMP certified and fully licensed indoor cannabis cultivation facilities in South Africa.
“At this point in time, our licence allows us to cultivate, dry and package the dried flower and so we intend to continue producing our quality flowers with high-THC and other cannabinoid levels, as well as a robust terpene profile.
“At the moment, we are able to sell our flower to those that are licensed to buy it, but no one is licensed in South Africa,” he added.
Mr Zollmann said he is excited that MedCan’s product is now available in the UK and can be accessed by those who will benefit most, saying: “Our flower meets the strictest testing requirements, has a rich flavour profile, and will hopefully be well received by patients and clinicians alike.”
Prof Mike Barnes, of Maple Tree Consultants, said this first of its kind import ‘is an historic moment for the medical cannabis sector in the UK’.
He added: “The UK has an ever-expanding medical cannabis sector which requires good-quality products with a secure supply chain.
“We are delighted to support MedCan with this import and are excited to see that patients and clinicians have more choice to help with their symptoms.”
Mr Zollmann added: “We are able to export to any licence holder in most countries internationally. Having said that, our priority and focus right now is to consistently supply our high quality flower to the UK market.”