Aurora Cannabis Inc (TSE:ACB) on UK becoming Medical Cannabis Global Leader
Aurora Cannabis Inc (TSX:ACB)(NYSE:ACB)(FRA:21P) CCO Cam Battley visits James at the Cannabis Europa Conference in London, UK. Cam Battley was a guest speaker and discusses the potential for the UK to be a leader in medical cannabis on a global basis. While regulations at the moment make it a challenging process to provide medical patients with accessible cannabis products, Battley knows that Aurora can overcome those hurdles.
JAMES WEST: Cam Battley joins me now. He’s CCO of Aurora Cannabis. Cam, welcome back.
CAM BATTLEY: Nice to see you.
JAMES WEST: Cam, we’re in London. London is going the way of Canada and the rest of the world – legalization is underway. What excites Aurora about London and the UK?
CAM BATTLEY: Well, the UK is going the way of Canada at a snail’s pace right now, and that’s part of what we’re here to talk about. I just spoke to Cannabis Europa, and one of the messages that I had is that we want the UK to be a leader in medical cannabis on a global basis, and not a laggard. Now, the UK has created a medical cannabis system, but there are still only a few dozen patients in it, and they’ve created some real barriers to patient access.
So what we want the UK to do is get serious about this. We should have a medical cannabis system in the UK, as elsewhere, that is truly accessible to patients, and the nice thing is, that doesn’t imply any lack of regulation.
JAMES WEST: Right.
CAM BATTLEY: You know at Aurora we embrace regulation; we’re very good at operating under rigorous regulations. But those regulations should not be established as obstacles to stop patients from being able to access medical cannabis. And that’s about where we are right now in the UK. It’s where other countries like Australia were before they actually got busy creating systems that worked.
JAMES WEST: Okay. Do you think it’s fair to attribute that to the fact that it’s nascent and it takes some getting used to in a conservative country like the United Kingdom?
CAM BATTLEY: I’m not sure it’s about liberal or conservative; I think it’s about a certain hesitancy to do it right. But the thing is, why create a medical cannabis system if you’re not going to make it accessible to patients? You can’t claim victory and say There, we did it: we created a legal medical cannabis system, if people aren’t able to access it to manage their health conditions.
So let’s take another look at the system in the UK that, for example, you know, stops general practitioners from prescribing for a patient. If we want medical cannabis to offer the same benefits to patients on a wide-ranging basis as you see in Canada and Germany and now Australia, then that’s one key step that has to be taken.
Ultimately, also, I’d love to see medical cannabis brought into the NHS process, and that, too, would be incredibly beneficial for British patients.
JAMES WEST: Sure. So the NHS is government pays for everybody’s medical care; is that what really makes the United Kingdom such a opportunity in terms of being able to bring cannabis to patients who need it?
CAM BATTLEY: We’re so bullish on the UK. We know that we’ll get there eventually, and we clearly want the system to mature faster and sooner rather than later. But this is a country with a significant population of 66 million people, that has a tremendous pedigree in the pharmaceutical industry, that has great universities and hospitals where we can conduct clinical trials. It’s got a tremendous work force of skilled and unskilled labour. We’d like to be operating here in a big way. We’re already operating in the UK; we’d like it to be one of the most important countries for us on a worldwide basis.
JAMES WEST: So, how do you provide cannabis to the medical patient coterie that needs it now? I mean, Aurora, in the UK?
CAM BATTLEY: It’s a very challenging process, and we have a lot of hurdles to get over, a lot of paperwork that needs to be done in order to import medicine and make it accessible to patients. I have a feeling that this will change fairly shortly, and that’s a good thing.
I think what the UK can look forward to in the short term is being able to be supplied in terms of its medical cannabis needs by Canadian companies like us, for example, the same way that Germany is right now. But Germany also did something really important in which we participated, and as you know, they held a tender process for companies that were going to produce government-mandated medical cannabis and be able to produce it in the country, inside Germany. And Aurora absolutely killed in that tender process. We got five of 13 lots that were issued by the German government, and we actually would have won 11 out of those 13 if we hadn’t been limited to five for a single company.
And that was a very, very significant process, by the way, because it’s the first time that licensed producers – in this case, 79 of them – all went head to head. All of these companies, these cannabis companies, all went head to head and were judged, effectively, by a very sophisticated judge, that being the German Federal government. And Aurora came out, by far, on top. That was very, very gratifying to us. It’s the first time, really, that there has been a sophisticated head to head in this business, and we absolutely destroyed. So, very, very gratifying.
Now, back to the UK: That’s something that the UK can look forward to as well, is having domestic production established here. In the short term, it can be satisfied by EU GMP certified companies like Aurora, but ultimately, there will be production here, and it will be damn good.
JAMES WEST: So does that mean we’re going to build an Aurora Sky or an Aurora Sun here?
CAM BATTLEY: We’ll have to figure out what to call it.
JAMES WEST: [laughter] All right! Cam, great as ever to talk to you. We’ll catch up with you next time. Thank you.
CAM BATTLEY: Nice to see you.
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