Who is involved in the Dutch cannabis supply chain?
Bedrocan is the only company in the Netherlands that produces medicinal cannabis, but that does not mean that we are the only company involved in the production process. There is a long way before the Dutch cannabis products reaches the pharmacy in jars. All these companies contribute.
The route starts with the Dutch government.
Office of Medicinal Cannabis
The Office of Medicinal Cannabis (OMC) has a special role to play. On behalf of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, this government institution is responsible for making medicinal cannabis available to Dutch pharmacists and for export.
They commissioned Bedrocan for the cultivation. The packaging and distribution of the cannabis product are in the hands of other parties. Bedrocan has a long-term contract. In addition, we only grow what is ordered by the OMC.
Although the cannabis product bears the name “Bedrocan”, the OMC is the official producer. They oversee all steps in the production process, from cultivation to delivery to the pharmacy.
Because cannabis is classified as a controlled substance in the Dutch Opium Act, Bedrocan is not allowed to trade freely. That has also been agreed upon internationally. The OMC is the only one in the Netherlands that is allowed to buy, sell and export Dutch cannabis. Therefore, all our products are exclusively purchased by the OMC before they are sent to a pharmacy or a pharmaceutical company. This also applies if the cannabis product is used for medical or scientific purposes. With this, the government wants to rule out abuses and control where cannabis comes from and goes to.
Before the medicinal cannabis leaves our facility in large airtight bags, an OMC employee checks the product and all bags are weighted. A control sample is also made and sent to an independent laboratory.
Bedrocan has two GMP-certified production locations in the Netherlands, one research facility and its own laboratory in Amsterdam. The cultivation of cannabis is not done outdoors or in greenhouses but indoors in special culture cells. This allows us to fully control the conditions under which the plants grow. This is important so that each plant ultimately has the exact right composition.
Bedrocan currently produces five different standardised cannabis varieties, each with its own composition of THC and CBD, the best-known ingredients.
From each batch of medicinal cannabis grown, a sample is sent to an independent laboratory: Ofichem Labs. They test the cannabis for the absence of heavy metals, pesticides, fungi and other contaminants. It is also checked whether the product contains exactly the right amount of ingredients. After all, this cannabis is used as a medicine. A doctor or patient must be able to trust that it contains what should be in it. Only when the test results are satisfactory will OMC release the batch, and the pharmaceutical packer can get started.
Once the cannabis has left our facility, it is then irradiated first. That is how the Dutch government has decided. Irradiation with gamma radiation is a method of making products sterile and more durable. This method is often used in the pharmaceutical industry. It is an extra precaution to kill any micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi and slow down spoilage. The radiation has no negative consequences for the quality of the cannabis product and the health of patients. The product does not become radioactive, as some may think. The company Steris specializes in gamma irradiation and carries out the work on behalf of the Dutch government.
After irradiation, the medicinal cannabis is taken to the packaging and distribution company. Fagron is the party contracted for this by the Dutch government. The cannabis is supplied in 5-gram jars or bulk packaging to pharmacists or pharmaceutical companies. An inspection is also carried out at Fagron by an OMC employee. This process checks whether the jars have been properly weighted and the total packaged weight of medicinal cannabis.
In addition to being a packer, Fagron is also a pharmaceutical wholesaler. Pharmacies can order their medicinal cannabis directly here. Fagron then takes care of the delivery to the pharmacy.