Cyprus Cannabis Association (CYCA)

Ιατρική κάνναβη με «άρωμα» Ισραήλ στην Κύπρο
February 8, 2021
Ιατρική κάνναβη με «άρωμα» Ισραήλ στην Κύπρο
February 8, 2021


Q What attracted you to the law?
From an early age, I cannot recall ever thinking of entering any other profession except the law. That is primarily due to parental influence and guidance, for which I will be forever grateful; the opportunities and challenges offered within the profession for self-growth and business development are endless and have stood me in good stead.

Q You are the President of the Cyprus Cannabis association. How and why did you get into this area. Surely for a lawyer it might not be great for a career?
On the contrary, my involvement in the cannabis sector has positively raised my profile, created a whole new local and international network and stream of possibilities. Lawyers are primely positioned to take advantage of the broad range of legal issues surrounding the industry. We are the first port of call for any clients seeking to enter the space so career prospects for any lawyer are extremely promising. Thoughts about cannabis and its potential health benefits started to develop after speaking with a neighbour a few years ago whose husband unfortunately was dying of cancer – the lady was keen to help him and complained about inaccessibility and high cost of cannabis oil which she claimed was the only product that could possibly alleviate his pain and suffering.

Shortly after that in March of 2019, I took a business trip to South Africa when Athos Group Cyprus was instructed to set-up two Cyprus holding structures the main purpose of which was to cultivate hemp and medical cannabis via their subsidiaries based in Africa. That is when the intrigue and excitement began. On returning to Cyprus to investigate the status of cannabis here, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that already we had legislation in place for hemp and medical cannabis production. Combined with extensive online research I was easily convinced that cannabis will undoubtedly revolutionise the world and decided to play an active role in that journey.

In April 2019 I took the initiative of forming the Cyprus Cannabis Association (‘CYCA’) and with support from other strong founding members as well as the Cyprus Chamber & Commerce & Industry the Association was registered under its auspices in September 2019. CYCA’s main purpose is to lead the collective of individuals and companies that will build the cannabis eco-system in Cyprus and advance the interests of a responsible, compliant, transparent, and high-quality cannabis industry by (inter alia) educating, connecting, and lobbying.

Since then cannabis has gone from being a highly controversial topic with very little information or movement locally to us seeing a surge of interest with CBD stores opening one after the other to accommodate high consumer and investor demand; the Cyprus government contracting recently with Panaxia Israel to import medical cannabis products; articles and news reports appearing regularly in the press. The word is surely spreading fast and furiously, thankfully.

CYCA benefits also from being a member of the ‘European Industrial Hemp Association’ – founded in 2005 with offices in Brussels and Cologne it is the only pan-European membership organisation in the industrial hemp sector. Their primary objective is to monitor EU hemp related policies and provide EU decision makers with accurate and reliable information across different spheres of competencies. EIHA is currently monitoring the following policies: CAP reform, hemp extracts/novel food regulation; THC limits in feed and food; life cycle assessment of hemp materials; CO2 impacts; environmental concerns and cosmetics.

In addition, I am a founding partner of Global Go Cyprus which is a subsidiary of Athos Group – a multi-disciplinary family office headquartered in Switzerland offering wealth management, trust and corporate services to private clients, entrepreneurs and family owned businesses.

Global Go facilitates the expansion of hemp and cannabis companies and their investments across borders. It is powered by a team of cannabis industry pioneers and world-class consultants operating from offices across the world.

We help leading cannabis funds and companies assess and enter new markets; acquire assets; raise capital; launch new products lines; improve SOP’s; comply with regulations; implement technology and security systems; find talent; diagnose and execute solutions to growth obstacles; and apply for cannabis licenses (with 99% success rate on over 150 cannabis license applications and counting).

Q At GC we have long believed that it can rebalance the post pandemic economy. What role do you think it can play in the local and international ecosystem?
Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to dominate world news and touch every aspect of our daily lives.
From this global financial and psychological reset the IMF and UN analysts anticipate that a slowdown of economic activity and widespread job losses will inevitably follow.
Cannabis could play a significant role in redefining our new global landscape going forward by, inter alia, providing new jobs; attracting taxes; reviving the agricultural sector; improving the environment; alleviating human pain and suffering; and improving our quality of life. It presents a tremendous opportunity which could now be leveraged by governments and entrepreneurs globally.

In recent years the increasing public demand for Cannabis has been growing rapidly and governments around the world are steadily moving to full legalization. A report from the Green Fund stated that ‘…. public support for cannabis legalization continues to increase; the industry is already a multibillion-dollar juggernaut that looks primed for continued expansion…’

Indeed, the global legal Cannabis market size in 2018 was USD10.60 billion and is projected to reach USD153,689.9 billion by 2027. The market is estimated to grow with a CAGR of 34.5% from 2019-2027 – see also here for the foremost source of independent data, intelligence and strategy for the Cannabis industry.

As global recognition of the benefits of cannabis increases, and the end of the ‘prohibition era’ for cannabis beckons, there is a burgeoning need for high-quality products with known components; cultivated at large scale for consistent, reliable supply to users. It would be safe to say that the cannabis industry will soon become the most lucrative and thriving industrial sector in the world. Cyprus is primely positioned to maximise this massive opportunity.

Q There is a common misconception that this is just about getting people’s right to get high. What other areas does the modern Cannabis industry delve into?
For a significant portion of modern human history cannabis had environmental, medicinal, spiritual, and recreational uses that date back at least 5,000 years. Archaeologists have found evidence of cannabis paraphernalia as far back as the first millennium BC in India, China, Africa, and Assyria. During the early 1930’s for various reasons (politically and racially driven) cannabis ended up across the world in the category of drugs deemed ‘most dangerous’ with all the criminal repercussions that followed.

Fast forward to the 21st century the ‘stigma’ of cannabis being rapidly eroded with public opinion becoming pro-legislation leading to many countries changing their legislative and regulatory framework to accommodate a rapidly growing cannabis sector which is predicted to reach E123 billion by 2028.

Attitudes to cannabis have changed on the back of a growing understanding of the cannabis plant, empirical data from legal markets and, most importantly, the evolution of the way in which we choose to treat patients and consumers who use it.
Cannabis is a plant of three main species: Sativa L; Ruderalis and Indica. The main difference between the species is the cannabinoid contents and depending on the variety of species the purpose for growing the plant. Cannabis is perhaps best understood if we separate it into four main categories; recreational; industrial hemp; pharmaceutical and medical:

i. Recreational cannabis is any cannabis used for non-medical purposes and usually involves smoking or inhaling it or consumption via edibles. Ordinarily it has a higher concentration of Tetrahydrocannabinol or ‘THC’ which is the psychoactive and intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant. Whilst support is growing for adult use it remains illegal in many countries including Cyprus.

ii. Industrial cannabis (hemp) refers to cannabis plants cultivated for high yields of materials like seeds; fibre and oil with low concentrations of psychoactive compounds usually of the Species Savita L. materials derived from hemp have a wide range of uses as constituents in consumer goods, including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, building material and fuel. Industrial cannabis can also be used to produce cannabidiol (‘CBD’) products such as oils, tinctures, and food, as well as health food products. CBD is one of the two main active cannabinoids in cannabis, THC being the other. Hemp is one of the fastest growing agricultural crops requiring little or no pesticides, less industrial processing post-harvest and low overall environmental impact.

See here for ‘The Hemp Manifesto’ – it is clear that hemp can play a crucial role in a new greener and more sustainable society by providing a concrete solution for ensuring nutritious food, environmentally friendly non-food products, clean air and soils.

CBD exhibits wide ranging medicinal properties, including anti-anxiety; anti-inflammatory, anti-pain; anti-arthritic and neuroprotective effects. CBD is indicated for treatment of conditions such as epilepsy and is commonly used for conditions such as pain and insomnia. There is an emergent market for CBD-infused oils, consumer goods and capsules. The broader public interest towards the cannabis industry is driving an increased demand for CBD impacting mainstream industries from pharmaceuticals to food and is seen as the acceptable side of cannabis. Consumers are seeking a natural wellness product which is both sustainable and non-psychoactive.

iii. Pharmaceutical Cannabis: products are formulated or processed using cannabinoids (either plant-extracted or synthetic) that have been through full clinical trials and are licensed as a medicine with marketing authorisation. Examples include Sativex, Epidyolex (Epidiolex in the US), Cesamet, and Dronabinol (e.g. Marinol and Syndros).

iv. Medical Cannabis: refers to plant-based or plant-derived cannabis products prescribed by a medical practitioner for the treatment of a specific condition or disease (e.g. epilepsy, pain, multiple sclerosis). Medical cannabis uses the whole unprocessed plant or the processed plant. It can include high-CBD and low-THC products, though CBD products may also appear as consumer goods, which are sold without prescription. Medical cannabis products are currently prepared in formats such as plant materials; oils; tinctures; edibles or capsules. Medical cannabis is an unlicensed medicine without marketing authorisation.
In recent years, public opinion has shifted in favour of medical cannabis; clinical trials and healthcare research are advancing our understanding of the cannabis plant. The European medical cannabis market is estimated to be worth up to EUR58 billion by 2028 becoming one of the largest markets in the world by value.

Q Readers may not be aware, however there are massive differences between THC and CBD. Are you looking to speak on behalf of one or both?
Covered with question above

Q Cyprus is a notoriously conservative society. What challenges have you faced in getting the subject in front of legislators?
Fortunately, there was no need to convince the legislators of the massive potential of hemp and medical cannabis. The reason I was able to throw myself so deeply, passionately and actively into the cannabis sector over the last two years or so ago is precisely because some politicians had foresight, were intelligent and broad minded enough to understand the opportunity so the necessary legislative framework is in place already which provides for production cultivation and export of hemp (‘Production and Trade of Industrial Hemp Law’ – 2016) and medical cannabis (‘Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Cannabis Pharmaceuticals Regulations’ – 2019). For the latter, we and potential investors are expecting soon a call for the invitation to tender for (initially) three medical cannabis licenses that eventually will be awarded to qualifying applicants.
Combined with numerous tax and other benefits of doing business and living in Cyprus – including but not limited to ideal weather conditions, its strategic location and highly educated and skilled work force – the country is perfectly positioned as a centre of excellence in production, research, genetics, and intellectual property in the cannabis sector which combined with a transparent regulatory and compliance framework make it an attractive country to maximise opportunities that will inevitably flow from global cannabis developments.

Most importantly, international legal developments will also have to find their way into the local legislation sooner rather than later, in particular: European Court of Justice landmark ruling in November 2020 which confirmed that:
i. Hemp-derived CBD is neither a drug nor a narcotic given that it doesn’t contain a psychoactive ingredient in the current state of scientific knowledge and has no harmful effects on human health.
ii. CBD benefits from the free movement of goods in the EU
iii. EU law precludes national legislation which prohibits marketing of CBD lawfully produced in another member state when it is extracted from the cannabis sativa plant in its entirety and not solely from its fibre and seeds, unless the legislation is appropriate for securing the attainment of the objective of protecting public health and does not go beyond what is necessary for that purpose.
This EC judgement provides a final and binding interpretation of EU law for EU member states. It is a pioneering next step towards more legal certainty and regulatory harmonisation in Europe.

UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in December 2020 voted to remove cannabis for medical purposes from a category of the world’s most dangerous drugs.
This decision will have sweeping implications for international cannabis. As Richard Rose long-time American cannabis activist and entrepreneur said – ‘… this isn’t just another brick in the wall coming down; it’s a hole blasted right through it’!

Q Has the major change in American state legislation helped in getting your case heard?
Yes, America has been leading the way in cannabis developments for a good number of years now which most certainly supports the cause. Markets that harness the economic power of the cannabis industry have demonstrated the significant societal and infrastructure benefits. Colorado and Washington reported USD300 million and USD400 million respectively in cannabis related sales taxes in 2019. In the UK it is estimated that the legal cannabis industry could eb worth as much as GBP3 billion by 2024, especially since the London Stock Exchange has opened its doors recently to the listing of cannabis companies.

Q Would Cyprus be looking to use a legal framework from one of the states where it is currently legal?
The legal framework has already been laid – see above
Q What are the chances of medicinal marijuana becoming legal here?
As above
Q Could green energy and Cannabis provide a future economic plan for the 21st century Cypriot economy?

Absolutely! The ‘European Green Deal’ lays out a detailed European plan as an initial roadmap for tackling climate change and economic inequality to improve the quality of life of the EU and its citizens. It reviews and resets the Commission’s environmental targets, requires more public investment and increased efforts to direct private capital towards climate and environmental action.

In line with the ‘European Green Deal’ industrial cannabis can play a crucial role in a new greener and more sustainable society by providing concrete solutions for ensuring nutritious food; environmentally friendly non-food products; clean air and soils. By repatriating manufacturing processes, (textiles in particular) and fostering innovative value chains (construction materials, food production, cannabinoids extraction) the industrial cannabis sector could deliver long term sustainable growth and create highly skilled jobs across the EU rural economies. In short, combining locally sourced raw material with global know-how.

Q If readers feel that they can add to the cause. What’s the best way of reaching you?
Within a very short space of time CYCA has managed to attract many members all of whom are keen to pursue opportunities in the legal cannabis field – whether that is for research and development and / or import of CBD products and / or hemp or medical cannabis cultivation.
The global legal cannabis market size in 2018 was USD10.60 billion and is projected to reach USD153,689.9 billion by 2027. The market is estimated to grow with a CAGR of 34.5% from 2019-2027 – see also for the foremost source of independent data, intelligence and strategy for the Cannabis industry.

As global recognition of the benefits of cannabis increases, and the end of the ‘prohibition era’ for cannabis beckons, there is a burgeoning need for high-quality products with known components; cultivated at large scale for consistent, reliable supply to users. It would be safe to say that the cannabis industry will soon become the most lucrative and thriving industrial sector in the world. Cyprus is primely positioned to maximise this massive opportunity.
It is no wonder then that we receive a regular stream of enquiries from local accounting and legal professionals on behalf of their clients as well as from international investors who are all keen to understand how they can pursue their business plans in the context of the current legislative framework.

I would strongly urge readers to consider joining us to exchange information about their interests, plans and experience; participate in activate debate and work together at achieving the Association’s goals and objectives. I can be reached anytime at: or mobile number +357 99 672366.