Regional Startups 3 MIN READ

As part of the 2016 Spark Festival, a nine-day celebration of startup culture, the University of Sydney is set to host Australia’s first ever pitch event for medicinal cannabis technology. Dubbed Seedlings, the event will discuss the combined regulatory, technological and logistical challenges the emerging medicinal cannabis industry faces in Australia.

Mediating the all-day Seedlings event will be medical cannabis startup BuddingTech, which was founded last year and has been working to support the introduction of a medicinal cannabis industry in Australia. CEO of BuddingTech, Adam Miller said Seedlings is looking for pitches that address the issues in the areas of education, patient interaction and clinical research of medicinal cannabis.

“There are so many more aspects to a new industry like medical cannabis than people realise. For example, how can doctors and patients get access to rigorous and reliable information? How can we explain complicated regulatory issues to the public? How can we put patients in touch with doctors who specialise in or are particularly interested in cannabis?” he said.

Along with startup pitches, a range of speakers will also inform the audience on how medicinal cannabis can be used for a widespread number of health issues. Speaking at the event are figures including CEO of Epilepsy Action Australia, Carol Ireland, and 2UE radio host and cardiologist, Dr. Ross Walker.

What should also be noted is Seedlings is being held on October 29, the day before medicinal cannabis will be recategorised to a Schedule 8 substance, officially making it available to specific patient groups.

Currently in NSW any cannabis possession is considered as a criminal offence and is considered a Schedule 9 drug, placing it in the same category as drugs like heroin. This factor alone makes cannabis and its use for medicinal purposes illegal, however federal legislation is set to change on October 30 to enable the domestic cultivation and manufacture of cannabis for medicinal and related research purposes.

Since Victoria became the first Australian state to legalise the manufacture and supply of cannabis for scientific and medicinal purposes, cultivators and startups have begun the lengthy process of securing an Australian license. Along with BuddingTech, based at Sydney’s Fishburners, regional Victorian startup LeafCann was one of the first ever startups to seek a cultivator’s license.

As of June this year, founder of LeafCann Chris Nasr had been in talks with the Victorian Agriculture Minister, Jaala Pulford to establish trial crops and move them forward into operations.

“I want every patient who might benefit from medicinal cannabis to be able to get that product safely and legally,” Nasr previously told Startup Daily. “For too long too many people have found reasons not to do this.”

A white paper produced in collaboration by the University of Sydney, MGC Pharmaceuticals and BuddingTech states that medical cannabis is already a $250 billion global industry. This industry is expected to help tens of thousands of patients in Australia suffering from medical conditions like epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain.

Miller said that research into medicinal cannabis is now at a critical stage.

“The more research compiled to support the use of cannabis, the faster the industry will grow. Essentially, this is the change that will officially launch medical cannabis as a viable industry in Australia,” he said.

Considering that the industry and startup space in medicinal cannabis is at its early stages, Seedlings welcomes all entrepreneurs who feel they can contribute to the education and execution of the industry.

“For ideas, we encourage people to consider concepts which will help educate doctors and patients, tracking patient progress with medicine cannabis and the sharing of data to encourage further research into medical cannabis,” explained Miller.

For more information on the Seedling event click here.

Image: Adam Miller. Source: Supplied.

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