The insidiousness of overconfidence: on best practices and standardization

Pietro Paolo Crocetta is chairman of the board of a conglomerate of companies focused on every aspect of the cannabis plant, from food to pharma. “Recently, we have also started focusing on industrial hemp as a result of an agreement signed with Tecno Canapa, a company based in Tuscany which manufactures equipment to obtain fiber from hemp.” Pietro further explains that one of the missions of the company is to give value to the plant as a whole, from the seed to the flower. “We have mostly outdoor cultivation. However, we are about to kick off an innovative plant in Switzerland, which will be GMP designed and which will produce flowers.”

Pietro Paolo Crocetta

Tomatoes vs cannabis
Pietro points out that, for this occasion, the company has opted for indoor because the market segment that they are going to tackle with this product is that of dried flowers, while outdoor cultivations are for extracts and oils. “To make a comparison, think of tomatoes,” Pietro says. “These are grown both in high-tech indoor farms, but they can also be grown outdoors. The difference between these two types of cultivation is, of course, the end product, which will be marketed differently,” Pietro explains. “Salad, cherry tomatoes grown in controlled environments are sold directly through mass market retailers. On the other hand, outdoor grown tomatoes are used for the processing industry. Using the indoor grown cherry tomatoes for the processing industry does not make any sense. The same argument can be made for cannabis. If one grows cannabis indoors, then he will market the dried flowers directly. While if one grows cannabis outdoors, this will be used for the processing industry as well, and therefore you can make oils, extracts, and so forth out of that.”

A problem of knowledge
According to Pietro, the problems of the cannabis industry are mostly related to knowledge. “The current issues of the cannabis industry are usually linked to a lack of knowledge, or even worse, to a complete absence of knowledge,” Pietro observes. “This eventually leads to discussions and debates that would not occur if people were knowledgeable. For instance, the discussion of indoor vs greenhouse.” Indeed, Pietro further explains that in order to grow cannabis for the medical market you need to compile an Active Substance Master File (ASMF) document, where a series of elements must be outlined. “These elements just simply cannot be implemented within a greenhouse. It is of the utmost importance to remember that we are not solely growing plants, we are crafting medicines,” Pietro says.

“Therefore, these medicines need to be the same all the time, and they need to provide the same effect constantly. That is why you need standardization, not only of the plant itself, but also of the conditions in which said plant is grown. Within greenhouses, this type of standardization is extremely difficult, if not impossible to achieve. The temperature oscillates a lot, the lighting also is not constant throughout the structure. You can manage such an operation, for sure, but that will never be perfect: you need to create and to maintain a standard. These are the requirements for the ASMF, and that’s why large greenhouses are not particularly suitable for this kind of operation.”

The insidiousness of overconfidence
Pietro continues explaining that growers think they can do everything, and that everyone wants to do everything. “Just because the cannabis plant has pharmaceutical properties, does not mean that everyone has the experience to grow a product pharmaceutically,” Pietro points out. “Think of orange growers. Oranges are full of vitamin C. If the vitamin C concentration is above a specific threshold, then it can be qualified as a medicine. However, orange growers do not say they are growing medicines, they say they are growing oranges!”

Constructing a medicine
Pietro points out the fact that medical cannabis growers have a mission: providing products to patients to improve their health. “There is a crucial difference between growing a flower and constructing a medicine,” Pietro explains. “if you construct a medicine, the grower must do everything perfectly because that product is going to medicate a person in a critical condition, and the grower has the opportunity to improve that person’s situation. In order to do this, you need to have standards - this is the most important thing. With regards to this, it does not matter if you grow indoors or outdoors: you have to set up pharmaceutical standards and you have to live up to that. By carrying out operations professionally, growers add value to their endeavors.”

For more information:
Crystal Hemp
Viale Carlo Cattaneo, 1
6900 Lugano (CH)
+41 (0)78 6993598

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