Australia’s Most Influential Players
The medicinal cannabis industry has come a long way in the past five years, and Australia is quickly becoming a world leader.
This movement has been no small feat, and there are countless people we have to thank for the current state of the industry – without them, medicinal cannabis may well still be restricted to the black market. Here is our take on Australia’s top-10 most influential people in the industry (as a note – this is not ranked, and they are not listed in any particular order. There are also plenty of people not listed here, that also deserve to be listed here…).
As CEO of Cann Group, Peter Crock has been at the helm one of Australia’s leading medicinal cannabis companies since early 2016.
Under Mr Crock’s leadership, Cann Group was one of the first companies to receive a cultivation license, while striking a deal with the Victorian Government to supply for paediatric epilepsy trials, and then the first to receive an export license.
Through Cann Group’s industry leadership, and their ongoing and expanding relationships with Government and research bodies, Peter Crock has helped lay the path for others coming up behind.
Dr Mal Washer
Former GP, then West Australian MP, and now Chairman of AusCann – Dr Mal Washer was involved in the medicinal cannabis industry overseas since before it was legalised here, and played a large role in the industries development in Australia.
Advocating for medicinal cannabis since his days in Parliament, Dr Washer has brought his whole family into the industry.
Partnering with his daughter, Elaine Darby (former CEO), AusCann has grown to be one of Australia’s leading cannabis companies. Forging global relationships with companies such as Tasmanian Alkaloids and Chilean cannabis company Fundacion Daya, AusCann is well positioned to access the global market.
Dr Sud Agarwal
As a specialist anaesthesiologist, experienced property developer and serial healthcare startup commercialisation expert with 3x exits under his belt, Dr Agarwal and his team at Cannvalate have been helping LPs solve major cannabis market problems.
He originally entered the medicinal cannabis industry as the Medical Director at Cann Group in the early days of the industry and left to launch Cannavalate to help bridge the pain-points that most LPs has been suffering.
Surrounded by an all star-team including BRW rich-lister Nick Bell, tech-guru Tristan Sternson, cannabis-safety researcher Prof Con Stough, and a panel of high ranking medical professors, the industry is expecting massive disruption from this highly credentialed team.
However much Teresa tries to sit quietly behind the scenes, she is well known as one of Australia’s top legal minds on all things concerning medicinal cannabis.
Advising almost every company of significance in Australia, contributing to public submissions on changes to legislation – Nicoletti brings a level of gravitas that is unmatched in the industry.
She has guided companies through the complex and sometimes confusing legislation, she has helped medical professionals in their mission to prescribe, and she has stood up and challenged the government on what needs to change.
Paul Benhaim has been at the forefront of the global hemp and cannabis industry 1991. he is founder of global goliath Elixinol, as well as Hemp Foods Australia and Elixinol Australia.
Elixinol is widely recognised as on of the most influential CBD brands in the world, and is one of the few companies that has full seed-to-sale control over their products.
Paul has worked tirelessly for decades to remove the stigma from hemp and medicinal cannabis, starting with hemp foods, but he was soon collaborating with some of the world’s leading experts to study the health benefits of cannabinoids, leading him to play an active role in the hemp CBD industry. His products are now sold in 41 countries globally, and Elixinol is often an industry leader in emerging countries.
It is fair to say that the legalisation of medicinal cannabis came about because of Lucy Haslam and her campaigning.
Lucy started the campaign in 2013, after witnessing the dramatic relief it gave to her son Dan who was suffering with stage 4 bowel cancer. Their story is well known in the industry, and directly led to legislative changes. Since then, Lucy has not stopped being the voice for patients and advocating for easier access nation wide.
Prof Iain McGregor
Professor Iain McGregor is the Academic Director of the Lambert Initiative and an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow.
Iain is renowned in the field of medicinal cannabis research both in Australia and globally, with more than 50 papers on cannabinoids, his first being more than 20 years ago. Across the industry, he leads strategic relations, advocacy and education for medical professionals and the general public.
Rhys Cohen has quietly been playing a significant role in the industry over the past few years. By speaking at almost every conference and event around the country, contributing to research, and swaying public opinion – Rhys has done his share to change minds and reduce stigma.
Rhys cultivated his interest in medicinal cannabis with his honours thesis on the North American market, and is now the Senior Project Officer at the University of Sydney’s Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics.
As CEO of Epilepsy Action Australia, Carol Ireland has advocated for patients since she saw the impact medicinal cannabis was having on patients with intractable epilepsy.
Since then, Carol has led her organisation to fully support medicinal cannabis, by advocating to government, developing education and supporting patients. She sits on the Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis, on the Board of the Medical Cannabis Council, and is constantly seen at industry and medical conferences.