Monday, April 22, 2024

Giving it both barrels: Cannabis Trades Association—profile

There’s something double-barrelled about Sian Phillips and Marika Graham-Woods. The joint executive directors of the 260-member Cannabis Trades Association split the role between them. With double the firepower, they double their chances of hitting their targets.

Sian is in charge of marketing and publicity. Marika handles strategy, policy and operations. The association saw this shake-up take place at the end of 2021.

The organisation’s mission remains unchanged following the new management structure. For its members, it aims to be a friendly face, especially for those starting out in the industry. “When you are a small business, you want to have people hold your hand,” says Marika. “We make sure they are not making statements that are over-statements.”  

When it comes to government, that’s where the double firepower comes in. Marika and Sian aim to tackle regulation of the hemp market.

“Deregulating or softening the regulation of the hemp market will allow for further research and development in innovations in the UK,” says Sian.

“We need to delineate between low THC (hemp) and high THC (medicinal cannabis),” adds Marika. “It’s time for root-and-branch reform.”

Joint executive directors: Marika Graham Woods (left) and Sian Phillips

Both Sian and Marika hail the setting up of the CBD Products All-Party Parliamentary Group, chaired by Crispin Blunt MP, as a major step forward for the industry. Marika says: “We think the best thing to do is sort out the regulation, give them [the politicians] a nice model to look at, and come up with the political reason why they should look at this seriously. It’s taxable just like tobacco and alcohol. It has jobs in the rural economy and it absolutely fits with the green economy that the government is talking about—and levelling up.”

There’s a regulatory model that’s crying out for the UK to adopt, says Marika. She points to what the government of Jersey has done to encourage both an investment framework and the growing of cannabis. “Jersey has decided that they want to have high-quality products produced from hemp. It’s an area like Scotch whisky and lovely brandy where we’re talking about quality,” she says.

“There is nothing that should stop us taking a small island like Jersey and applying that model on a larger scale. I am not saying straight to the whole of the UK—but we would do trialling. We would look at the legislation and test if it were feasible to get it through parliament.”

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