Our two interviewers had a chance to chat with Cassandra Hunt, Managing Director of Freshleaf Analytics about Cannabis Trends, Sas approvals, AP approvals, Doses per patient, product spend, Driving, access, and the stigma of Cannabis.
Freshleaf is one of the leading providers of data and intelligence around medicinal cannabis and the cannabis industry in Australia. Releasing bi-annual market reports on the state of play of the industry. Freshleaf works with some of the biggest names in the Australian cannabis industry to enter and succeed in the Australian cannabis marketplace.
1:19 – Cassandra Hunt explained that Freshleaf is a leading provider of data and intelligence on medicinal cannabis in Australia. She delved into detail regarding the biannual reports published on cannabis industry. She described that the company was also working with companies to help them coming up with a working mechanism in cannabis market. While narrating her personal journey, she shared that she started her career in magazines like Sports illustrator and Times where she was designated the field of market research and marketing. She recounted that after 8 years in magazines, she decided to do something different and innovative. She recounted that she joined What if innovation, an amazing novelty agency working to give amazing products and services. After returning to Australia, she started working with a strategic vision to aid companies by developing innovative strategies to do so. She said that when she came across the cannabis industry, she decided to get involved.
4:26 – Cassandra spelled out that although she formally joined the market after Covid, she has been researching the market before it. She even visited Canada for this.
6:13 – Cassandra agreed that the Australian cannabis mechanism was very different from those implemented in other countries. She believed that the Australian cannabis industry was a highly regulated pharmaceutical industry not following the suit of Canadian industry at all.
8:13 – Cassandra elaborated that the cannabis industry was growing at a phenomenal rate. She explained that the product revenues steadily growing. She elaborated that previously there were 30,000 active patients, however, the numbers doubled in just 6 months. She explained that they had observed a big jump in the number of authorised prescribers since last year which means that doctors were inclining towards medicinal CBD. She predicted that the industry would have an overall positive growth trajectory in future as well.
12:01 – Cassandra explained that although the GPs were bound to report their prescribing patterns to TGA, that data was accessible only upon request.
13:28 – Cassandra believed that it was not just specialist clinics but also GPs who are interested in medicinal cannabis. She informed the audience that the registration process has been simplified greatly. Resultantly, the approvals would be for diverse products and would last for longer.
15:16 – Cassandra said that they were not reporting on compounding medicines as no mechanism was in place to require reporting of compounding data. However, she thought that this process was used a lot since doctors do not have to go through the approval process.
16:02 – Cassandra agreed that there were no absolute estimates on compounding.
17:22 – Cassandra explained that the cannabis industry had interesting demographics. She clarified that currently, the young males wanted access to flower. However, she was of the view that the Australian market had not seen the demographic shift visible in Canada where middle aged people are looking for it with alternative delivery formats readily available. She believed that a time will come when market is mature and stigmas will eventually disappear.
19:26 – In response to the question about pricing trends now and future, Cassandra explained that the prices dropped hugely for the last 3 years, with the current average price of 16 cents a milligram. She illustrated that 190 products were available in market with 40 new products during the last 6 months. She demonstrated that although price was a major factor, still doctors look for clinical assessments before prescriptions and not for price. She elucidated that people on average pay $50 a week for medicinal cannabis.
23:50 – As far as the trend is concerned, Cassandra agreed that Flower trend is continuing and growing with 1 in 5 products comprising of flower. However, she was of the view that oil-based products are still popular. Regarding price concerned, she explained that prices could not be lowered due to huge infrastructural and research expenses involved.
28:09 – Cassandra deciphered that companies cannot figure out the way to advertise their flower products in comparison to oil ones. She believed that a lot of research and innovation was still required in this regard. She clarified that it is not going to take hold overnight and required detailed planning and research.
31:18 – Cassandra was pleased with the gradual development of cannabis ecosystem. She deliberated upon the changing dynamics of market and asserted that collective responsibility along with leadership were required to build reputation of industry so as to avoid prevalent stigmas.
35:53 – Cassandra said that while working on S3 with clients, she could see that it was a huge step forwards in easing the access to low CBD products. She explained that the product is registered for schedule 3 in the manufacturing cycle. She also warned that it is potentially a long and expensive road and it would take a long while before products could be launched.
39:11 – Cassandra agreed that the industry needed intricate research, particularly in these markets where it is quite easy to put products in markets. She believed that positive outcome was expected from S3 research. She also asserted upon easing the access to medicinal cannabis in pharmacies.
40:32 – In response to a question on prediction on recreational in Australia, Cassandra said that it will happen eventually but will take a lot of time. She illustrated that Australia will likely follow the model of New Zealand balancing the recreational and pharmaceutical usage.
41:54 – Cassandra clarified that currently, marketplace is a wellness market working on productive health approach.
43:28 – Cassandra illustrated that she would like to see wellness market approach in Australia as TGA needs to put CBD off schedule completely.
Freshleaf Analytics: https://freshleafanalytics.com.au/