Interview: on both sides of the fence

Matt Murphy, Vice President of Compliance, Khiron Life Sciences (TSXV: KHRN)

Murphy spent 25 years as a DEA special agent, including on the ground in Colombia, before transferring to work in pharmaceutical compliance in the US. Appointed as Khiron’s vice president of compliance in August 2017, Murphy provides unique insight and experience on the process of drug legalization and commercialization.

CCI: Khiron has focussed heavily on educating Colombian doctors on how to prescribe medicinal cannabis. What progress has been made?

MM: Education is one of the most important things in the development of the industry because we need educated practitioners who understand the value of medical cannabis. While working in law enforcement, I dealt heavily with the opiates crisis in the US. I’m 100% sure that one of the reasons the crisis became so serious is that practitioners don’t receive the proper training in how these drugs should be used and how they should be prescribed. That’s a big part of our game plan: to have strategies to educate practitioners about the value of medical cannabis, showing them what it can and should be used for, and how it’s a better alternative than other drugs that have been prescribed in the past to patients with pain.

“We need educated practitioners who understand the value of medical cannabis”

CCI: How else can Colombia avoid making the same mistakes the US has?

MM: We need to prevent diversion; which happens when prescribed drugs end up in the hands of third parties. Some companies are better at policing themselves and that can prevent diversion occurring. The key lesson is that if we police ourselves and we have high regulatory standards then we can prevent this diversion from occurring. We want the cannabis industry in Colombia to be legitimate and credible with true medical value, we don’t want it to be seen as a scam so people can get pot to get high. If we’re going to legitimize and bring credibility to this industry, it’s will be through high regulatory standards, compliance, security, supply chain, etc. We intend to set the bar high and there’s a really good opportunity for that.

CCI: How easy is it going to be to export products from Colombia to countries where cannabis is legal?

MM: Right now, the governments where recreational cannabis has been legalized are more open to accepting products from other countries. Nevertheless, I can’t even see the US opening up right now. I think all the Latin America countries are going to be first than US when it comes to export.

CCI: If the states could have their own policy regardless of the federal policy, would it remove problems in the financial sector?

MM: It remains as a question, because Wells Fargo just made a huge announcement that they were not going to enter business with a particular company because they have a connection to cannabis. I think if banks are federally insured and the federal government considers cannabis to be a C1 drug with legal medicinal value, then the banks know they’re not going to have issues with the federal government when doing business with cannabis companies. It will be interesting to see, if the Warren bill passed, how it will affect the banking industry.