Cannabis CONICET: innovation in medical cannabis and industrial hemp

Science as an engine of development converges in a historical articulation between CONICET, the UNAJ and the Hospital

Launch of the company Cannabis CONICET: innovation in medical cannabis and industrial hemp.

The National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), the Arturo Jauretche National University (UNAJ) and the  ‘El Cruce Dr. Néstor Kirchner’ Hospital announced the creation of the Technology-Based Company (EBT) Cannabis CONICET.This new national company will allow the integration of knowledge and technological development associated with medicinal cannabis, industrial hemp and its derivatives, strengthening competitive advantages for the sovereign development of the subject and its competition, in the regional and international market. The launching ceremony was led by the president of CONICET, Ana Franchi, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Daniel Filmus; the rector of the UNAJ, Arnaldo Medina, the director of the El Cruce Hospital, Ariel Sáez de Guinoa and the scientific coordination of the EBT: the and CONICET researchers Silvia Kochen, Gregorio Bigatti and Esteban Colman Lerner.

To learn more about the EBT Cannabis CONICET, visit its website.

To watch the video, click here

To watch the event, click here

The mission of Cannabis CONICET is to consolidate the medical cannabis and industrial hemp industry in the region, generating quality and innovation standards at all stages, from cultivation, production, and clinical and industrial use, strengthening both training and education. of human resources, the economic value and the social value of the industry through its articulation with the national science and technology system.

Ana Franchi, the president of the Council, celebrated the launch and highlighted the joint work. “We joined this company with a new and growing public university named after Arturo Jauretche and a public hospital named after a president who changed the history of science and technology in Argentina, Néstor Kirchner. This commits us to having a State that guarantees, not represses, the use of cannabis, and intervenes in public health and also in production”, she explained.

“This did not start today, from CONICET, the University and the Hospital, but mainly with women who wanted to use medical cannabis with their families and the State persecuted them, but they organized and moved on. At CONICET we have been working from the RACME Medicinal Cannabis Network with a positive impact, where we all learned, we were able to advance together with other institutions, organizations, legislators, having in force the recent law No. 27,669 that establishes the regulatory framework for the Development of the Medicinal Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Industry, which addresses and contemplates the research and development of its uses. Now we present a technology-based company that will ensure quality, the safe use of medical cannabis, its access, strengthen the production chain, and something beyond this and very satisfactory, is to be able to count on our own seeds. It is a matter of scientific sovereignty.”

Franchi assured that this project seeks the academic and productive training of growers and the training in knowledge of the users themselves. In this sense, CONICET contributes positively to the quality of life of society: “For us it is very important, because the State is intervening in public health, in quality control for the well-being of users, promoting the progress in clinical studies of medicinal cannabis and the development of industrial hemp, which will allow us to have more jobs, remediate soils and a very important productive development”, she concluded, and thanked the counterparts, organizations and the entire community scientist for their hard work and commitment.

For his part, Filmus stressed “the importance of the State supporting this type of initiative, so that the right to health can be democratically accessed. The State through all the agencies involved resolves these issues, not the market” and he continued “it has to do with a struggle of civil society and organizations. There is no possibility of growth without sovereignty and today it is based on scientific and technological development. There is no country with thriving development that has not bet on science and technology. There is no other way to build a more sovereign country. Those who monopolized knowledge in the pandemic also monopolized the life and death of humanity. Our scientific community responded to the demand. For this reason, a financing law like the one we have and a debate regarding the 2030 Plan that allows us to have a future horizon for the country that generates the conditions for it to be a productive country contributing quality of work and research and its transfer. All this is summed up in the company that is being created and if it were not for the State it would not be possible to fulfill it. The debate must be given now. These types of initiatives facilitate access to technology for SMEs. It is necessary to strengthen a State that generates the conditions, it is important to invest in research, in education. We are proud to take this step. He also highlighted Kochen’s work and commitment.”

Furthermore, this new technological innovation company offers the following services: Training of specialized human resources, such as the Higher Diploma in Cannabis, the Diploma in Cannabis and its medicinal uses and Training organized on demand; standardized quality control; Observational studies of the therapeutic use of Medicinal Cannabis, to have evidence on the efficacy, adverse effects, dosage, and other aspects that involve the use of cannabis in health; the development of CONICET Seeds and registration of new cultivars.

For his part, the rector of the UNAJ assured: “It is a pleasure for us to accompany this initiative. UNAJ has been participating together with the ‘Medicinal Cannabis Network of CONICET’ (RACME), academic, scientific and productive institutions and with members of civil society in this project. Starting initially from the regulatory frameworks and the scientific and medical research work focused on the use of medicinal cannabis as well as the regulation of industrial production and marketing both in our country and the possibility of exportation” He also stated that: “ Accompanying CONICET together with Hospital El Cruce Dr. Néstor Kirchner is very important for us, it is the opportunity to innovate in this line. Our University feels very committed to continue working both in research, in the training of Human Resources and in continuing to accompany the RACME in clinical trials, observational studies, in the training of biochemists for quality control and also participating in QA”.

Besides, the director of El Cruce Hospital, Ariel Sáez de Guinoa said: “We are contributing to innovation together with CONICET and UNAJ through an agreement with a public company for the development of cannabis, marketing, and quality control from production to distribution. We rescued the work from the Neuroscience Implementation Unit, which is in charge of the researcher Silvia Kochen, and is part of the Hospital because it will allow us to strengthen our Center for Translational Medicine”.

During the launch, CONICET, UNAJ and El Cruce Hospital signed a collaboration agreement to regulate cooperation activities in terms of technological linkage and services to third parties related to the cultivation and industrialization of cannabis and industrial hemp .

The development of the EBT Cannabis CONICET is based on 4 central values ​​as guiding principles: Federalism, to articulate the capacities and developments of the entire country; Quality and excellence, for training, assistance, products and high-level technological services; social responsibility; to guarantee the capacities of the State and equal access to the population; and Agility, to promote the link between industry and society, with S&T capabilities.

The scientific coordinator and the scientific coordinators Silvia Kochen, Gregorio Bigatti and Esteban Colman Lerner, agreed that “the development of the cannabis industry in Argentina is incipient, the creation of the technology-based company “Cannabis CONICET” is essential to promote and generate quality and innovation standards at all stages, from cultivation, production, both for medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp, such as plant research, in production, in experimental and clinical models”. Besides, they added that the national company “will provide agile solutions in different parts of the country through specialized training, standardized quality control, development of new cultivars adapted to the different ecoregions of the country and will contribute to the development of observational clinical trials in different pathologies ” .

At this stage, Cannabis CONICET has the active participation of the institutions that make up the science and technology sector, of the Universities, and of the Hospitals to progressively add NGOs, cooperatives, and SMEs, among others. The multiplicity of actors that make up the EBT is recognized as a guarantee, due to the experience in research on its uses and technological innovation in the sector, making it easier for the State to maintain its capacity to articulate and plan the use of cannabis based on scientific and technical knowledge, which guarantee quality for therapeutic and industrial use, through the constant improvement of regulations, as well as the development of national production and genetic techniques, which contribute to cost reduction.

The attendees of the meeting were: the Vice President of Scientific and Technological Affairs of CONICET, Mario Pecheny; the managers of Technological Liaison and Legal Affairs of CONICET, Sergio Romano and Alan Temiño; the undersecretary of Institutional Coordination of the MINCyT, Pablo Nuñez; the national deputy Julio Pereyra; the national deputy Carolina Gaillard and the national deputy mandate fulfilled, Carlos Kunkel; the director of the CCT CONICET CENPAT, Rolando Gonzalez-José; the deputy director of the CCT CONICET La Plata, Carlos Omar Della Védova; the coordinator of the National Program for the medicinal uses of Cannabis in the Ministry of Health of the Nation, Marcelo Morante; national, provincial, municipal, academic authorities and the scientific community.

To learn more about the EBT Cannabis CONICET, visit its website.

To watch the video, click here

To watch the event, click here


Global and local context: Why a cannabis company?

According to the report presented in May 2022 by the Ministry of Productive Development, currently more than 50 countries have advanced in some type of legalization for cannabis for industrial and/or medicinal use. In 2000, the global production of medicinal cannabis was 1.4 tons, while in 2019 it reached 468 tons. Projections for 2024 indicate that the value of global production would reach US$42.7 billion.

Cannabis for industrial and medicinal use presents itself as an opportunity for Argentina not only because it is an emerging global market, but also because it is an intensive activity in technological and agro-industrial knowledge. As an example, all the patent applications related to varieties of Cannabis up to the year 2016 reached 320 filings, while only in the triennium 2017-2019, 470 new applications were filed.

The role of the national science and technology system in general, and of CONICET in particular, is central to strengthening and promoting the integration of knowledge and technological development associated with cannabis, hemp and its derivatives, accompanying recent changes in laws and regulations. that seek to position the country with competitive advantages for the sovereign development of the subject and its competition in the regional and international market.

This participation is essential not only for the needs of research on the uses and technological innovation of the sector but also to guarantee that the State maintains its capacity to articulate and plan the use of cannabis based on scientific and technical knowledge that guarantees quality. for therapeutic use at affordable prices for society as a whole, both through the constant improvement of regulations and the development of national production and genetic techniques that contribute to cost reduction.

To face the growth in the demand for applied and specific knowledge that will result from the development of the cannabis industry and the application of associated public policies, CONICET and the Arturo Jauretche National University and the El Cruce Dr. Néstor Carlos Kirchner High Complexity Hospital , announce the creation of Cannabis CONICET. This company will be a key tool to have a more agile relationship with the industry and society, promoting the promotion and development of technical assistance, training, research and development and technology transfer related to the medicinal use of the cannabis plant and industrial hemp.


Legal framework and development: The impact of Cannabis CONICET

In Argentina, Law 27,350, passed in 2017, has established a regulatory framework for medical and scientific research on the medicinal, therapeutic and/or palliative use of the cannabis plant and its derivatives, and, more recently, Law 27,699 of 2022, has regulated the productive development around the hemp industry covering the national production and marketing chain, or for export purposes of the cannabis plant, its seeds and its derived products affected by medicinal use, including scientific research and the use industrial; thus promoting the national development of the production chain.

Since the formation of the Council’s Medicinal Cannabis Network (RACME) and the support of the Council’s Board in activities linked to cannabis, CONICET has played a central role In both laws. Besides, through the Implementation Unit of Neurosciences and Complex Systems (ENYS), belonging to the three institutions that make up the EBT, a service is currently offered to determine the content of solvent residues in cannabis oils for therapeutic purposes so that patients of the Hospital can have greater certainty of the products they consume.

The work background has contributed to the training of human resources since the diploma in Cannabis with more than 4,000 students; has put into operation more than 25 services and 15 technical assistance and research and development projects related to the subject together with the “National Program for the Study and Research of the Medicinal Use of the Cannabis Plant and its Derivatives and Non-Conventional Treatments” of the Ministry of Health; has presented the first public records of plant varieties to the National Seed Institute (INASE) and contributed to the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT), the Ministry of Health and the National Congress, in the definition of regulations related as well as in the integration of the Regulatory Agency of the Hemp Industry and Medicinal Cannabis (ARICCAME).