Trevor Schoerie's expertise

Compliancy from a pharmaceutical perspective

One of the main differences between traditional horticulture and cannabis horticulture is the influence of the pharmaceutical industry standards on the latter. Therefore, this combination requires different approaches when it comes to growing such a crop. These must comply with local and international regulatory environments in which a cannabis operation is active for its full lifecycle. With the industry booming basically everywhere around the globe, growers seek to increase their revenue by eyeing profitable markets outside of their own country’s borders.

According to Trevor Schoerie, Managing Director with PharmOut, many companies are attracted by the potential of the European market. “PharmOut is an Australian company that has always been working in the medical cannabis space, which has granted us extensive knowledge with regards to the pharmaceutical side of the industry,” he explains. “Many Australian companies are targeting the European market, and especially Germany, which has all the premises to be a very lucrative market.”

A pharmaceutical background
Coming from a pharmaceutical background, Trevor takes care to remark that compliance is the major aspect to take into consideration. “Given our background, we are very much aware of the strict regulations that the pharmaceutical industry requires,” Trevor points out. “Regulations in Australia are not that different from Europe’s, when it comes to GMP standards. On the one hand, this allows Australian growers to be better poised for exporting to European countries. On the other hand, things have been moving quite slowly here in the Southern Hemisphere.”

From the left: Trevor Schoerie and Adrew J. Exner during the GreenTech 2019, Amsterdam

The situation in Australia and New Zealand
Indeed, according to Trevor, in Australia and New Zealand, it took a lot longer to get things going, compared to other countries. “In Australia, regulations were revised in November 2016,” Trevor explains. “However, it took at least another two years before some companies started producing in a serious way. Bluntly put, 27 licenses have been granted thus far for cultivation and production; yet, only a few companies are actually manufacturing cannabis, as of now.”

According to Trevor, PharmOut has helped a significant number of these 27 companies. “We have worked with many Australian companies and have assisted them or in the process of assisting in getting the necessary ODC cultivation and GMP licenses,” he says. Trevor further explains that the Australian GMP standard is similar to the European one, unlike Canada. “Canadian cannabis regulations are not as closely aligned to the Europe or Australia. This and the Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) puts us on a ‘higher ground’ when it comes to export in Europe, as Australian growers do not need to ‘rethink’ or ‘adjust’ their processes or operation when planning export.”

The future challenges of the cannabis industry
The cannabis industry is still young, and many current issues will need to be addressed to ensure a bright future for the whole sector. “The prohibition era surely did not help,” Trevor points out. “You can easily see this in the rush to build indoor farms close to the market that one intends to serve, for instance. As of now, this does not make much sense.”

According to Trevor, indeed, the cannabis crop is not as perishable as tomatoes, for instance. “If stored correctly, the product can have up to 2 years of shelf life,” he remarks. “Therefore, why not start a cannabis operation in a country where climate is easier to control, and where cheap specialized labor is available?” This leads directly to the major future challenge of the cannabis industry. That is, cost. “Three main factors contribute to the cost of cannabis cultivation,” Trevor explains. “Infrastructure, energy and labor costs. We are working towards facilitating growers to address these issues immediately, during the early stages of their operations. This way, they will be one step ahead of others, and will be sure that the future will not give them any unpleasant surprise.”

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