Freia Pharmaceuticals was founded in 2009. It is the only company in Italy and one of the few in Europe to have created cannabis-based pharmaceutical products approved by the Italian Ministry of Health that are licensed for sale throughout the EU. Freia’s products are currently authorized under the framework of pharmaceutical law and not subject to the evolving, provisional regulation of cannabis.
After the continuous alarms caused by the seizures in recent months, the new law tries to further regulate the Italian cannabis market, laying the foundations for its development.
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The drawbacks in the Italian cannabis market
“So far the potential of the cannabis supply chain has been compressed. It was for the need to produce raw materials that were THC-free. Since the Supreme Court had established that selling leaves, inflorescences, oil, and resin to the public is a crime unless these products are actually without dopant effect,” explained Alessandro Cavalieri, CEO of Freia Pharmaceuticals.
Freia Pharmaceuticals is a company specializing in the development of products based on derivatives of hemp seeds.
“The measure will help to support the cultivation of this highly profitable plant, encouraging the extension of the cultivated area and the creation of an integrated supply chain,” he added.
Contained in the text proposed by Senator Loredana De Petris, the law tries to put an end to the chaos in the Italian cannabis market that was created last May.
A ruling of the Supreme Court ruled that the sale of products derived from hemp was illegal unless they were without drug efficacy. Many shops closed down fearing legal consequences and manufacturers had to face the risk of finding themselves with warehouses full of unsold goods.
The sustainable Italian cannabis market
“Now farms that grow plants with a level of THC less than or equal to 0.5% will find new market outlets, extending the cultivated land and helping to create new jobs,” said Freia Pharmaceuticals.
The company also stressed the need to create an integrated supply chain capable of growing and processing the entire plant, and also to dispose of waste to make this activity truly sustainable.
In other words, you should develop and consolidate a chain that combines research and development, agricultural production, processing, and marketing to allow hemp to regain the importance and turnover that is due to it.
The Italian cannabis market could bring huge turnovers
According to an estimate by the experts of Freia Pharmaceuticals, between 2018 and 2019 the cannabis production in Italy generated a turnover of about $200 million (€180 million) for farms alone, which are less than 1,000.
As Coldiretti pointed out, in the last five years the cultivated area has increased tenfold, going from 400 hectares in 2013 to almost 4,000 estimated for 2018.
In the past, cannabis has played an important role in the agricultural activities of the country, with the plant fibers used for the production of fabrics and ropes.
Italy was once a leading cannabis producer
“Until the 1950s, Italy was the second largest cannabis producer in the world, with 90,000 hectares of land dedicated to its cultivation. Then the plant was the subject of a campaign that associated it with drugs and the spread of cheaper synthetic fibers from abroad did the rest,” recalled Cavalieri.
“These events led to the gradual abandonment of industrial cultivation, to the sale of the plants and to the loss of competence and experience, which is still difficult to rebuild today,” continued the expert.
Aware of the potential of the Italian cannabis market, Cavalieri’s team decided to focus on some properties of this plant, doing research and developing patents in the pharmaceutical and nutritional fields.
“Since the beginning of our activity, we have focused on products free of THC and CBD. In this sense, the amendment has no direct consequences on our work,” said the founder of Freia Farmaceutici.
For them, it is equally important because it helps to unhinge the prejudice that still weighs on the Italian cannabis market and to promote realities that are an extra weapon for the sustainable growth of the country’s economy.
Cannabis research grant
Being in the register of innovative SMEs, the company holds seven patents and several product lines registered with the Ministry of Health in the cardiovascular, dermatological, allergological and gynecological fields.
“From cannabis, we extract active ingredients such as omega 3 and omega 6, useful for developing therapeutic solutions with different areas of application,” explained Cavalieri. “We have received a grant from the EU to do research on hemp and develop nutritional products for cancer patients. During the therapy, the person suffers from lack of appetite and it is necessary to support him with hyper-nutritious foods that are easily absorbed. We are already in the final phase of testing the product that is based on vegetable proteins.”
For the time being, Freia Pharmaceuticals has been operating on the Italian cannabis market since it launched its first products in 2017. However, the company aims to go beyond national borders.
“We have 110 hectares of land planted with hemp, we closed 2018 with a sales volume of $900,000 (€810,000) and for 2019 we estimate to reach $1 million (€900,000) and $280,00 (€252,000).
Our ambition is to enter foreign markets as early as next year, we are currently negotiating with European partners and in January 2020 we will open our subsidiary in the United States.” said Cavalieri.
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First published in Business Insider, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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