The Bayern-based start-up, founded by childhood friends, has financing in place and a certified product that has passed all quality checks in Germany, making the firm the first in the country to bring in cannabis from Lesotho.
Even though the German cannabis industry is now in its fourth year, there are still many “firsts” to be had. While the first German-grown cannabis is beginning to reach pharmacies, Munich-based Drapalin Pharmaceuticals has finally been able to execute on a dream four years in the making – namely importing quality cannabis from outside the country and selling it through to a patient population that is ready and waiting for it.
The four co-founders bring a wealth of complementary experience to the mix, starting with Lana Korneva, one of only two female founders in the cannabis distribution industry in Germany. The Garev brothers, Ilya and Ivan, plus Konstantin Lubsky, the firm’s lawyer, the rest of the founding team, have been working diligently now for years to make their dream a reality.
As of this week, in partnership with MG Health, a certified cultivator based in Lesotho, the team pulled it off, bringing the first unirradiated, stable cannabis from Africa into Europe at the EU-GMP standard which also passed strict German quality tests.
What Makes Drapalin’s Cannabis Different?
There are several things that are different about the cannabis the firm is bringing into Germany.
The first is that it is produced in land-locked Lesotho, in a remote area, 2,000 meters above sea level, far from polluted land, air and water.
The second is, thanks to the peculiarity in German state and federal law that allows the same in Bavaria, that the team is bringing in completely organic, non-radiated product. Most of the cannabis in the medical market in Germany today is radiated. This includes all Canadian and Dutch cannabis currently in the German market, which was required by authorities after multiple problems with quality and stability.
The flower the company is bringing into the medical market is a hybrid mix of a Californian strain (White Lemon) and a local to Lesotho mix. The THC level of the flower, which the company has also registered with German authorities, is between 18-22% THC.
Both companies involved are proud of their accomplishment, which has been delayed not only because of Covid, but the complications of importing cannabis from the land-locked kingdom of Lesotho, the Kingdom in the Sky.
The Road from Here
The company is focussing first on supplying the Bavarian state market which has one of the highest cannabis patient counts of any German state. They already have patient advocates onboard and are planning a comprehensive and aggressive outreach to their network of pharmacies.
Beyond this, Drapalin is also deep in the heart of creative plans for both doctor and a broader general educational outreach, which of course is complicated by European rules about advertising and marketing narcotic medicines.
“We are absolutely thrilled to make history,” Managing Director Lana Korneva said. “The entire team has been planning for this moment for the better part of four years. Now we can realize our dream of providing high quality, high THC cannabis to Bavarian and then German patients.”
What Comes Next?
There are several issues in the German market that every distributor faces, beyond being able to source certified cannabis that meets spec on this side of the German border. This includes not only patient advocacy, but doctor education. Patient numbers are growing, slowly, depending on the state – but it is still far easier for the privately insured to access medical cannabis than those on statutory healthcare. In large part this has to do with the way that doctors are required to account for prescribing expensive drugs.
The team at Drapalin, however, is well primed to attack the problem, and further with all the ingenuity of the start-up that they are. They understand other, larger, and more established firms have already entered the market, but that has not deterred them.
“We know we can deliver quality products to our Bavarian and other German customers and further, products that stand on their own in the current market,” Korneva said. “That is increasingly going to make a difference in a world where German cannabis patients are starting to have choices.”