2018 presents itself as a very important year for the world of Cannabis. Individuals intended to cultivate and realize flower buds and Food products are increasing, Agricultural Companies are growing and the Cannabis sector in Italy is forming itself more and more as a developing economic sector.
According to the Italian Confagricoltura in 2017 3 thousand hectares have been cultivated, a number set to increase exponentially.
Today we propose an interview with Jacopo Paolini, founding partner of Enecta together with Marco Cappiello, with whom we will address all the topics relating to the world of Cannabis.
How does the 2018 season present itself in Italy? How are you working?
A good question, to which the best way to reply is: in strong growth. The 2017 season was for us a testing ground to assess performance and yield of different genetics in various sites in Italy. In the actual season, investing further in machineries and harvesting and drying equipment for the extraction materials, we expect to obtain 60 tons of raw material GACP certificated, Made in Italy.
In 2017 we started the same process in Greece as well, where I’m staying at the moment, testing performance and yield of the genetics and collaborating with local companies to improve and optimize cultivation, harvesting and drying methods of the plant material. As a first year we are aiming to obtain 600 kg of GACP certified raw material, this time Made in Greece!
Where are the cultivation sites?
In Italy we will increment the cultivated surfaces in Abruzzo, Emilia Romagna and contemporaneously we will start small projects in Puglia and Liguria. We have another huge plot of land On Hold in central Italy, but we have to wait for an official confirmation on this.
In Greece we’ve selected a 20,000 sqm area at about an hour and a half from Athens, A truly wonderful valley with a lot of light, water and a friendly temperature; in March the medium temperature is 15/17 degrees Celsius. If this year things are going as we hope they will, there’s a good chance that in the next years we get to cultivate in this valley, on about 800 ha of land!
How do you see the health status of the Cannabis Sector in Italy? Which areas need improvement according to your point of view?
Having had the good fortune of entering in contact with various representatives and members of the Cannabis sector here in Italy - Political and Military authorities, Medical Doctors, Researchers, Patient Associations, Pharmacies, Hospitals, Universities, Cultivators, Supporters, Consumers - as well as abroad, I can state that in Italy it has solid foundations at the level of cultivation and distribution of the product as well as very valid individuals in the areas of Research and Medical Use of Cannabis.
What is probably missing is a direct communication channel between the various “players” to speed up and optimize the entire system. With the help of focused operations, like joint projects and periodical meetings, we are supporting the creation of a network of connections between ourselves and all these actors, to try and improve the Cannabis System in Italy and offer not just high quality products but also assistance and support to the various classes involved.
Research and communication. I believe this is the main area in which should be invested and improvements should be made. Using the precious, up to now little utilized resources present in Italy, going from the cultivation of the product, to the research and study and the correct uses of the same, we aim at raising the awareness of the public on the potentials and benefits of cannabis products, sustaining projects of Research and Development of the plant in collaboration with University and Hospital bodies.
How do you rate the future of the Cannabis Market?
With regards to the part of market related to extractions, I firmly believe it is the most important market. Extracts in oil, in the form of drops or capsules, represent the most controlled, secure and practical way to take cannabinoids.
Being able to know the exact amount of CBD or other cannabinoids present in a drop of extract or in a capsule, helps consumers and doctors to keep posology and effects controlled.
There’s still a long way to go regarding the correct determination of the percentage of cannabinoids the human body assimilates. Assimilating 30 mgs of CBD in a capsule does not correspond to the assimilation by our organism of the same quantity of CBD, often it’s less (in very rare cases it’s the same).
For this reason, we are testing alternative ways of administration, like nasal sprays, vaping extracts with high CBD percentages, chewing gums, etc.
Once we’ll have the test results, we will think of alternative product lines.
Regarding the phenomenon of the inflorescences, the so-called Cannabis Light, for now we are observing the development on the Italian market. According to my opinion there is a feverish activity on the market, which isn’t always a good sign.
I remember the boom of e-cigs of some years ago, when without too much regulations and with a lot of requests we could assist to a boom on the market of products of any kind without any type of certification; and as quick as it appeared, it also disappeared.
What I think to be of primary importance for the consumers and also and above all for the producers, is to be able to always require (the first named) and guarantee (the latter) all the certifications of origin and analysis of a product. Consumer protection must be guaranteed, whichever the use of the product he/she decides to make of it.
What do you advise the many individuals who, on the crest of the Cannabis phenomenon, are intended and stimulated to cultivate?
Arm yourselves with patience, time and love for agriculture. The cultivation of Cannabis is a very stimulating challenge and can give a lot of satisfaction. The other face of the coin is that it requires time, dedication and investments.
Not only money but also in terms of the knowledge of the plant, the territory, of harvesting and drying techniques. Both for an expert agriculturist as well as for a novice (like myself last year) my suggestion is to start with small plots of land and a couple of different varieties.
This is to test both the yield of the genetics and the cultivation and harvesting techniques. The market of Cannabis cultivation in Italy today is in major increase. Investing today in quality cultivations, also if they are small, could guarantee the creation of experts in outdoor cultivations, who, in my opinion, will become in the next couple of years, highly requested professionals.
What will the future reveal us?
That “The entire world is green” :) CBD has been our starting point and after 7 years we are still far away from the turning point in discovering all the potentials of this cannabinoid.
The Cannabis plant possesses more than 80 cannabinoids still to be studied and understood. As of today we have started working on 12 more genetics.
From the research studies and development of these genetics, we’ve extracted CBG and have obtained interesting results on THC-V, which has demonstrated a good reaction regarding rebalancing of psychotropic cannabinoids. The results on the others will be available at the end of harvesting, when the extraction material will be ready.
In short, also this year a lot of work has to be done, and we are there…