Essenza’s medical cannabis facility in Greece aims to become a leader in setting the highest standards
Essenza is going to establish one of the largest facilities in Europe for plantation, cultivation and GMP production of end pharmaceutical cannabis products
Essenza Cannabis was founded in 2017 with the goal of becoming a very significant player in the medical cannabis industry. In April 2019 Essenza was granted the installation licence by the Greek government to establish a
facility, which will be fully operational by early 2021. Yodik Madar, Essenza’s CEO and Elazar
Kaykov, Essenza’s Vice President of Marketing, spoke to Health Europa Quarterly to discuss the exciting future of Essenza, as it takes its place within the European market.
In 2017 we set our goal at playing a major role within the growing medical cannabis industry. With our background and knowledge coming from the highly developed cannabis industry in Israel and after examining the alternatives we decided to play a larger and more significant role. In the meantime, Greece had expressed an open approach towards us, motivating us to invest and build our facility, produce, promote R&D and cultivate in Greece.
Essenza is unique in several aspects:
■ we are building a brand-new facility, exclusively designed and customised for cannabis production from plantation to end pharmaceutical cannabis products at the same location.
■ The facility is designed to become one of the largest in Europe, with 175,000 square metres, and to have the ability to process up to 70 tons each year.
■ Essenza was founded with the intention of becoming a significant manufacturer. We are looking for various co-marketing models including production for leading brands.
■ Our specialised team who has expertise in the medical cannabis industry and in the pharmaceutical world is also very important and crucial to our success. One of our greatest assets is our cooperation with experts coming from the leading pharmaceutical companies, who have experience in conducting and managing complex projects in the health industry.
The Israeli team, with its outstanding experts, collaborates with its Greek counterpart – “We are closely following the newest and most cutting-edge technology intended for medical devices that are being produced in Israel,” says Elazar Kaykov, VP Marketing. “For example, Essenza is looking into the inhaler devices, in order to produce the components containing the active materials for them.” Furthermore, adds Kaykov, “We are enhancing the relationship with the Ministry of Agriculture in Greece and with a Greek university for the purpose of agricultural and biochemistry developments, in order to implement methods and techniques in our production and plantation.”
Another example says Kaykov is the CBG – one of the cannabinoids, which our team is currently exploring. Although CBG is not as well-known as the other active ingredients – THC and CBD – it seems to have various therapeutic benefits as well. It is very complicated to produce CBG, as it requires unique knowledge regarding the basic biological aspects and the specific technique of how to grow and to effectively extract the flower.
Since we started working on the project, we have encountered many challenges. Specifically: ■ The industry is still very new, and each country has made huge changes to the regulatory framework. The rapidly evolving regulations renders almost everyone back to being like new startups. For example, in Israel, companies have been established and growing since 2003, but new
changes to the regulations were implemented a few months ago and have completely changed how they are able to grow, process, produce and determine their eventual product.
■ There are also many challenges regarding understanding what the process of producing cannabis looks like whilst adhering to the new law and to the new regulations.
■ Scale Challenge – No one has ever operated in a production facility that can process 70 tonnes annually, so we have paid close attention to the small details.
■ The challenge is to succeed in a rapidly changing environment. We must monitor what is happening in other countries, such as Germany, in order to be up to date with any new regulations that might influence production, exportation and marketing to certain countries.
■ Lastly, finding the right experts with knowledge in the industry was very challenging, but we managed to assemble an excellent team.
Currently we are looking for a site manager in Greece. We have a two-year time frame to complete the staffing of the site, implement
procedures and processes to gain EU GMP certification while keeping our eye on the evolving regulations and market dynamic.
- Cannabis is new in Greece and we want to be the leading company in the country. Greece is a member of the EU, which was very important for us so we could have easier access to the key European countries. The regulations in Greece are not easy, but the government is open minded.
- the communication with the public sector in Greece is very helpful.
- We can also be more competitive with our pricing because of competitive cost of production in Greece. ■ Although we had other opportunities such as in Switzerland or Denmark, we decided to proceed with Greece because of the good weather, which is very important for growing the cannabis flower. The better the weather conditions and ingredients, the higher the quality of the end-products.
Thoughts for the Future
With our activities in Europe, we are sowing seeds in Germany, Poland, and in other European countries, in order to open doors for our products. By 2021 we will have all the certifications and marketing authorisations needed.
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