EPISODE #39 Cannabis Regulatory Frameworks and Global Perspective with Don Bellamy, Life Sciences and Cannabis Executive


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What kind of framework and research do we need to build a strong cannabis sector?

This week we’re joined by Don Bellamy, experienced Life Sciences Executive who has worked in the healthcare industry for 27 years across pharmaceutical companies such as Novatis and AstraZeneca, and for Canopy Growth - the largest cannabis company in the world.

Don shares his perspectives from the world of Big Pharma and Big Canna, as we investigate further into regulatory frameworks within the industry, rules & regulations, and the troubles we face harvesting reliable data.
Episode Summary

  • Don has been in the healthcare industry for 27 years, working for big pharma in a variety of different roles across the world As his career developed, he saw the industry change around him and started to feel like his passion wasn’t there anymore.
  • Don went on to work within smaller pharma and biotech which he found more fulfilling.
  • Two and a half years ago, Canopy Growth offered him work within the cannabis space. Don became very convinced that the industry had huge potential and that there was a job to be done - to be able to help patients.
  • Don describes his time at Canopy Growth as a ‘great starting point’ for his work within the industry.
  • Don suggests that in broad terms, the North Americans are more relaxed about regulation and more liberal about the use of cannabis within a wellness and a recreational environment.
  • In Canada, there is more of an active debate around how cannabis should be used. There are more doctors in Canada who are willing to give cannabis a go - who by doing so have discovered new things about the way in which they should prescribe it and its applications.
  • In the UK, none of the political parties have spoken about cannabis in any sense within their manifestos. This is a stark difference to Canada, where Justin Trudeau who set out to legalise cannabis and followed through on his claim.
  • Don would like to see approaches to cannabis coming firstly from a medical point of view, with education and understanding being taught to us, just like alcohol.
  • The majority of cannabis companies are start ups and do not have access to large amounts of data which can be used to back up claims.
  • Don suggests that if a product was conceived which mixed cannabinoids with opiates, it may be a significant way of reducing opiate load. He suggests that the reason this doesn’t already exist is that big pharma do not take cannabis seriously enough as it is plant based.
  • While working for Canopy Growth In Canada, Don noticed the opportunity to use cannabinoids in tertiary care was huge. Older people in care homes respond very well to low dose cannabinoids, they feel more energised, they sleep better, and are more social as a result.


  • There are very few truly global cannabis companies 4:58
  • There is definitely a different approach to regulating and creating a market for cannabis in Europe compared to Canada and many US states 7:40
  • In Europe, there is a concern (around cannabis) which is born out of the way of European thinking - this has to be understood, this has to be regulated. 2:26
  • All North American producers can learn significantly from having to meet higher standards which Europe is going to impose 8:40
  • The search for data isn’t moving as fast as it should do in the cannabis world
  • As with everything in cannabis, everything is country by country - things are emerging at different rates.
  • Big pharma is unsure whether cannabis is a friend or foe 13:58


Join Don on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/don-bellamy-3907a65/

45 episodes