The availability and price of medical marijuana are, for the moment, the two main concerns of cannabis therapy patients. Recent months have brought a rash of pseudo-experts claiming that a gram of dried medical marijuana produced in our country would cost about 4.5 zlotys, and the mere fact of importing cannabis to us from Canada raises its price several hundredfold; of course, similar statements are complete nonsense repeated by people who have no clue about MM production. The truth is that the dried produced in our country would most likely be ultimately more expensive than the one from overseas, we explain what this is due to.
What the availability and price of medical marijuana is due to
To begin with, let's discuss the issue of availability, which is really due to the very strict regulations regarding the registration of each batch of dry that enters our market.
Here's what the procedure looks like for the delivery and release to the market of each single shipment of dried product: an already registered product, such as Red No 2, must meet the requirements for the content of the active substance, in this case THC, in order to enter our country. The THC content of the dried product entering our country must be that stated by the manufacturer when applying to import a new batch +/- 10%. If the product in the application has a THC concentration of 19%, then under our regulations the content of the active substance must be within the range of 17.1 - 20.9% (19% +/- 10%). And this is where the problem arises. Despite the (theoretically) high level of standardization of dried production, it is quite a challenge for its producers to maintain the reproducibility of a given product (standardization to keep the active substance at a constant level), despite the fact that they use advanced technologies such as cloning plants using stem cells.
Unfortunately, keeping the amount of THC +/- 10% at a constant level often simply fails for those in charge of growing the plants.
It is for this reason that there are shortages of dried plants in our pharmacies, there have been times when tens of kilograms of dried plants have not made it to the pharmacies due to a deviation from the norm by just decimal places.
How to solve this problem? A good example can be found in our western neighbor. In Germany, the allowed deviation from the declared THC concentration is not 10, but 20%. For this reason, there is a much larger selection of products in pharmacies there, and their supply is constant and regular. Not only that, but the Germans have created a special cell to deal with issues related to, among other things, maintaining the THC concentrations declared in the declarations. If a given batch of dried food deviates from the declaration by more than 20%, then the cell appointed for this purpose examines each case individually, and for re-approval of dried food for import into the country there is a waiting period, not like in Poland - several months (it happened that a batch which was not allowed in lost its validity during this time), but only a few days. Thanks to this solution, the batch with higher-than-permissible exceedances goes to pharmacies, rather than returning to Canada. Of course, the approval cell is staffed by people who are knowledgeable about medical marijuana. Germany previously had regulations like ours, but due to shortages in stocking, the said threshold for deviation from the declaration was changed from 10 to 20%.
It is interesting to note that Poland has the strictest regulations in this matter, and it is to us that the highest-quality dried product comes. In conversations with the directors of Aurora and Canopy, I learned that when it comes to the standard of the product, it is with us that the highest is required, and it is our strict regulations that the producers follow, i.e. that they produce the drought for our market. If a batch does not meet our standards, it will go to pharmacies in other countries such as Germany. In order to improve availability, our regulations need to be loosened. These are the facts.
The price of medical marijuana
Ever since dried medical marijuana appeared in our pharmacies, there have been claims about its high price and that cannabis for medical purposes should be grown in Poland. The belief is that then hemp products will be cheaper, and Polish entrepreneurs will make money instead of Canadians. Hemp pseudo-experts who have no idea what the process of producing medical marijuana looks like are able to state that a gram of dried cannabis produced in our country would cost about 4.50 zlotys (the current price is 50-60 zlotys/g) and that the fact of transporting dried cannabis to us from overseas raises its price several hundred times! People repeating such theories have no idea what they are talking about, and I have no idea why they are saying it, probably just to say anything when they are asked about topics they don't know about but would like to know.
The manufacturing processes of medical marijuana, from cultivation to packaging, are carried out under the highest GAP and GMP standards. Producing MM to the highest medical standards generates massive costs. Putting up a sensible MM production hall (cultivation + packaging) costs tens of millions of zlotys!
But it doesn't end there, of the plants grown, one or two flowers (the main inflorescences) from each are used for medical purposes, while all the rest of the flowers go to the commercial market. If it weren't for the fact of selling the "leftovers" to the commercial market - medical marijuana would be much more expensive! Otherwise it wouldn't be profitable for anyone to produce it.
To put it another way, for the moment the "low" price of medical marijuana is due to the fact that the companies producing it make money on the "leftovers" of MM production by selling them to the commercial market. If it were not for this procedure, the price of dried marijuana at the pharmacy would be at least double the current prices.
If one were to start producing medical marijuana in Poland now, legislation would have to be created to allow the "residue" to be resold to commercial markets in countries where recreational marijuana is legal. Otherwise, its price will be much higher than it is now.
Another solution to this problem could be to allow the marketing of oils based on medical marijuana, which would be produced precisely from the residue of the plant. The economic sense would then be preserved thanks to the revenue from the sale of the oils, which, by the way, are much easier to standardize to three decimal places.