There has been a sea-change in attitudes to what makes up a healthy, economically beneficial and sustainable UK cannabis industry over the past five years. The total-market, seed-to-product potential of this industry is increasingly understood by key players. The recently-published Plan for a Legal and Regulated UK Hemp and Cannabis Sector compiled by the all-party parliamentary group for CBD (cannabidiol) products (APPG), sets out this vision; some of the contributors to the Plan who serve on the APPG’s secretariat advisory board (SAB) told CBD Business News about the benefits of collaboration, and the possibilities their co-operative approach offers to the wider UK economy.
Rebekah Shaman, the managing director of the British Hemp Alliance, recalls a time when the hemp sector of the cannabis industry felt left out in the cold: “Five years ago the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) and the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) dominated the policy space that focused only on cannabis, and neglected the hemp industry.
“This is the first time hemp is recognised politically, and included in a policy document. It’s because of all the hard work the British Hemp Alliance, the Scottish Hemp Association, the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) and Unyte Hemp have done to push this industry forward.”
“We are very glad the secretariat recognised the importance of industrial hemp in the cannabis debate”Rebekah Shaman, MD British Hemp Alliance
Ms Shaman draws attention to the part played by CBD company Tenacious Labs, which is the secretariat of the APPG: “Tenacious Labs recognised that a robust hemp industry makes sense, and even leads the business plan with this.
“We are very glad the secretariat recognised the importance of industrial hemp in the cannabis debate. This shift in hemp policy reform can make a huge difference and create a substantial green industry that fuels innovation and technology, create jobs and support the bio and circular economy.
“This is the most robust and comprehensive report ever produced that includes all aspects of the cannabis plant, and is a legitimate and viable way forward for the industry that supports and represents all stakeholders so that everyone can benefit from a thriving cannabis industry.”
In a separate example of evidence of this sea-change in attitudes, in the recent Hodges Review commissioned by the ACI and CMC, hemp cultivation is noted and discussed as one of the three sectors of what is referred to as the ‘cannabinoid’ market.
Co-founder and CEO of Tenacious, Nicholas Morland, co-chairs the SAB. He is confident about the considerable economic potential of a well-regulated, integrated market:
“The potential benefits of hemp and cannabis legislation are startling.
“This Plan lays out a framework for the adoption of a process and timetable, with recommendations, actions, responsibilities, and timelines necessary for government and parliament to deliver a new sector that promises immense benefits, not only to the greater public good, but also to the economy with 594,000 additional jobs and £5.5 billion in potential annual tax revenue.
“These benefits are not yet fully understood by our key UK decision makers and administrators, and this Plan sets out a strategy to help fix that.”
That broad-spectrum, integrated industry is represented in the membership of the CTA, as Marika Graham-Woods, one of its co-executive directors, outlines:
“The CTA is actively involved in all regulatory aspects of the Plan. Our members come from growers, processors, suppliers, CBD product manufacturers and white-and private labeller companies, as well as pharmaceutical medicinal cannabis suppliers and clinic-providers in the UK and the world.
“The interest from foreign companies is exciting as they see the UK market opening up with a sensible cannabis plan in place.”
Her fellow executive director, Siân Phillips, adds, “We have excellent relationships with our trade body colleagues from the Cannabis Industry Council, European Industrial Hemp Association, and BHA having worked on this Plan together. For once the industry is collaborating as a whole and moving forward with objectives we all agree on.”
Mrs Graham-Woods points to another development likely to promote collaboration within the hemp sector:
“The re-emergence of hemp-growing in the UK has led to the CTA approaching directors to sit on the board of the newly formed Industrial Hemp Marketing Board (IHMB). These directors come from international end-user sector organisations who use industrial hemp in their products (for instance textiles, building materials, insulation and so on). It is hoped the IHMB will anchor the hemp sector and create sales channels for the nascent hemp industry in the UK as well as attracting investors to it.
“Ingestibles, CBD products, supplements, topicals, cosmetics, body care and wellness products are being headed up by the CTA. We work closely with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and on a wide range of matters to move the novel foods process on whilst protecting consumers, and setting policies and definitions to speed up the process, and market opportunities.
“One of the key issues is to set THC limits in CBD products. At the moment most of the CBD consumed in the UK is imported from North America and China. Having our own UK-grown supply will give the UK a competitive export opportunity and protect our luxury CBD products industry.
“The pet market for CBD and animal feedstuffs also has great potential. The CTA is working with UK and Australian companies and research establishments to compile research data for the FSA and Veterinary Medicines Directorate for humans and animals.
“When it comes to sorting out regulations for medicinal cannabis, the main factors are allowing GPs to prescribe more widely without peer review, and revisiting NICE guidelines to assess cannabis as a botanical product.”
Mrs Phillips sums up the positive feeling surrounding the creation of the Plan:
“Marika and I are enthusiastic about the speed at which things are changing, and our involvement in making change happen.”
You can read the full APPG report on the CTA website here: Plan.