Davinder Rai, CEO of Hellenic Dynamics:

Greece: “The low cost of power and labor allows us to grow indoors”

“Growing in Northern Greece, we benefit from the low cost of power as well as relatively cheap skilled labor. Moreover, we’re less than an hour away from Thessaloniki airport, which has daily flights to all of our key target markets,” says Davinder Rai, CEO of Hellenic Dynamics Plc. The UK-based company has a license for 40,000 square meters of medical cannabis cultivation in Greece. While that would mean the company is capable of producing over 54 tons of medical cannabis per year, Davinder says the European market is not quite ready for that yet. “Many people talk about the ‘European market,’ but it’s important to remind ourselves that Europe is not one cannabis market. Instead, it’s 25 different markets that allow very different things in terms of imports, exports, and products. While overall, there is potential for major European medical cannabis markets, there is currently not yet the demand for 54 tons of cannabis from one cultivator. Therefore, at Hellenic Dynamics, we want to slowly increase our capacity based on how the markets develop.”

Davinder Rai

Growing indoors
For its production, Hellenic Dynamics has opted for a completely controlled environment, with no natural light coming in. “This way, we are able to create the perfect environment and have 6 harvests per annum. The low cost of power and labor allows us to do the cultivation indoors,” Davinder says. While many, of course, argue for the benefits of a greenhouse, Davinder says that they are not always viable. “On paper, a greenhouse makes sense. Growing under glass, you save a lot of money on LED lights. While greenhouse growers are limited in the number of harvests they get per year, they’re saving money on power. However, in reality, that is not always the case. A lot of greenhouses cost far too much money to cool down in the summer and too much money in power to warm up during the winter. In my opinion, with the cost of energy in Europe, greenhouses are not always viable anymore,” Davinder says. “Moreover, the full genetic potential of the cannabis plant is not reached if the environment is not completely controlled. Therefore, we’re very lucky with our location in Northern Greece, as the low cost of power allows us to do indoor cultivation at scale.”

Cannabis knowledge
Greece started allowing medical cannabis cultivation in 2018. “I believe Greece issued 94 licenses at the time. Yet out of those, I know of only one or two that are currently still operating,” Davinder says. “I think there are several reasons for that. First of all, cannabis cultivation is not something that is taught in universities. You’ve got to have people who have done it before and who also know how to do it at scale. There’s a finite number of experienced people in Europe. If you get your license but don’t have the right management team, how will you know how to properly grow medical cannabis? There’s a saying in English: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The companies that have the proper knowledge and benefit from low cost of power and labor are the ones that are going to succeed better than others.”

Cannabis 2.0
Hellenic Dynamics recently signed an MoU with Demecan, the only licensed independent German company that covers the entire value chain for medical cannabis from cultivation through processing to distribution. According to Davinder, the German market is important for the company. “Medically, it’s the most advanced in Europe. There are around 300,000+ patients that have access to about 30 grams per month. For around 85% of those patients, the money spent on medical cannabis is reimbursed by their health insurance. Such a well-established market is of great interest to us.” Davinder explains that the company employs a strategy they call cannabis 2.0. “In cannabis 1.0, a cultivator would find the strains it felt it could grow and then cultivate these strains under GACP certification, then process them under EU GMP certification, and then ultimately try and find a distributor to buy the products. In the model we now have, cannabis 2.0, the distributor is key. The distributor is not only the importer of the products but also the entity that sells the products to pharmacists. As a result, the distributor knows exactly what products the customers are after and which ones are not being bought by patients. By working with the distributor, we cultivate the product that we know will be bought by the market. Often, they supply us with the cultivars they want, we grow those products, and they go unbranded to our distributors. The EU GMP process is done at the distributor level, as well as packaging and branding. Not having to undertake these elements of the process will save us significant time and money. We believe this strategy will be the future of cannabis.”

For more information:
Hellenic Dynamics

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