Peter Reynolds

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An Update On CBD, the Novel Food Scam and the Fatcats Who Plan to Take Over the Market.

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The CBD Market Has Been Built By Small British Businesses.

It is About To Be Stolen By Government-Backed Big Business.

Over about the last five years, small British businesses have built the CBD market from zero to hundreds of millions in annual sales. It’s been driven by rapidly changing attitudes towards cannabis and a realisation that many of its medicinal benefits could be available legally by using traditional hemp extracts.

Big business, the established supplement and health food companies weren’t interested. They saw the stigma around cannabis before they saw the changing attitudes.

Now it’s all very different. Millions of people are using CBD. All the big multiples are stocking it. It’s become a media fascination and many people say they gain great benefit from it. Suddenly, big business and all the regulators are interested. Suddenly those who weren’t bothered previously are cautioning about all sorts of dangers and concerns. They don’t actually have any evidence of CBD products causing any harm but clearly they don’t think these small, independent businesses can be trusted anymore. Of course, the truth is they want a slice of the action – or preferably all of the action if they can get their chums in government and the bureaucracy to step in and assist with their plans.

In fact the British CBD industry has been a model of responsible self-regulation. Two trade associations, the CTA and CannaPro, represent virtually all the leading UK suppliers and maintain high levels of quality control and trading standards, including regular reporting of non-compliant businesses to the MHRA.

But in June this year, the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) published a sensational report alleging that most of the CBD on the market was very poor quality, contained illegal levels of THC and some contained no CBD at all.

Its report was presented as some sort of independent, academic study that should be regarded as science. It wasn’t. It was a cheap marketing stunt. Sure enough, just a few  weeks later it announced that all its members’ products were good quality and there was no problem with them.

Now the CMC has thrown itself in with the EU and is backing the classification of CBD products as ‘novel foods’, meaning that any business selling CBD would have to apply for an authorisation at a cost of at least £250,000 in a process taking perhaps two years to complete.  The CMC has also aligned itself with an interpretation of the law on THC levels in CBD products which is completely at odds with the established industry.  It has sided with the Home Office that there cannot be any THC at all, whereas the industry relies on a  definition of ‘exempt products’ in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 which permits up to 1mg of THC in each container.

As Brexit approaches, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is expected to issue guidance on enforcement of the novel foods classification.  If it acts before Brexit then the position will be carried over in the Withdrawal Agreement.  And now the CMC has launched yet another trade body, the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry, (ACI) which it is implying will enable CBD suppliers to enjoy a ‘grace period’ from FSA enforcement.

It would be unlawful for the FSA to make any arrangements or offer any ‘grace period’ to CMC or ACI members that is not available to any other business. Mike Harlington of the CTA tried this on before, claiming he had made special arrangements with the FSA for CTA members only. None of this is true. These claims are confidence tricks but the CMC/ACI is pushing it with the requirement to sign up to membership at a cost said to be between £10,000 and £50,000 per year, completely prohibitive for the small businesses that have worked so hard to develop this industry.

The Centre For Medicinal Cannabis Is A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing,

The ‘Big Pharma’ Of British Medicinal Cannabis And CBD.

The CMC appeared sometime in 2018 announcing itself as the UK’s first and only industry membership body for businesses and investors operating in cannabis based medicinal products (CBMPs) and cannabidiol (CBD) wellness markets.  This, of course, is nonsense. It’s about the fifth or sixth to set itself up as a trade body in this market and it’s certainly not the only.  Between them, the CTA and CannaPro represent hundreds of businesses with millions of satisfied customers.  The CMC has only a handful of members.

What the CMC/ACI does have is a great deal of money from its backer, the multimillionaire Paul Birch and a great deal of influence from ex-David Cameron ‘fixer’, Steve Moore, who knows all the right people in all the establishment elites and knows how to pull their strings.  In just a few short months it has pumped a fortune into PR and media relations and made itself the go to source for anything on medicinal cannabis and CBD.  It has also bought and paid for a large number of highly qualified people with impressive credentials who inevitably carry great weight with the authorities. Its ambitions are clear.  It intends to destroy the small businesses that built this market and seize it all for itself and it looks as though it may well succeed.

CannaPro spoke with the FSA earlier this week.  For the moment, the FSA cannot act as we are in election ‘purdah’, the civil service can’t really do anything except keep the status quo but that will all change after the election.  Then, depending on the new government, it may move rapidly to commence enforcement. What this will mean is impossible to predict but almost certainly the multiples will take stock off the shelves unless some interim arrangements are agreed.  Those with retail premises will be in the most immediate danger, online sellers will be in a better position but if Trading Standards officers try to seize stock, they have extraordinary powers and trying to obstruct them may result in arrest.

Of course, the novel foods classification is fake and a lot of evidence has been presented to prove this but it is simply being dismissed. It’s rather like the way the medical establishment dismisses the evidence on medicinal cannabis.  If these institutions don’t like evidence they simply ignore it.  For obvious reasons, it suits the CMC to get behind the novel food scam but the result for consumers will be a lot less choice and probably substantial price rises. It’s also very bad news for CBD businesses.  A lot of people are likely to lose their jobs.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 31, 2019 at 9:35 pm

Mischievous ‘Centre for Medicinal Cannabis’ Report Smears UK CBD Industry With Misleading Data

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A new report from the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) paints an appalling picture of the CBD market in the UK and has led to headlines and alarm everywhere that consumers are being ripped off and the whole industry is not to be trusted.

Cannabis has great medical potential. But don’t fall for the CBD scam – The Guardian

Calling on the UK CBD sector to have better regulation and reform – Health Europa

Centre for Medicinal Cannabis survey finds six million adults used CBD in UK – NHS Executive

CBD oil brands contain little to no CBD, test by Sativa’s UK lab reveals – Proactive Investors

It is true that there are some rogue businesses and fake products but the impression given by this report is false, misleading and wildly inaccurate.  For nearly three years the leading CBD businesses in the UK have been engaged in serious, responsible self-regulation and consumers can be confident if they buy from members of the two trade associations Cannabis Professionals (CannaPro) or Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) they will be getting a quality product which is lab tested and contains exactly what is claimed.

The report is nothing but a market manipulation exercise by the authors. To understand why, it’s necessary to understand who is behind the ‘Centre for Medicinal Cannabis’ and examine their record.

The CMC is the latest front for Paul Birch, a multimillionaire, who since 2015 has been funding a series of ventures in the cannabis campaign. Mr Birch has brought one extremely valuable commodity to the campaign which it had been sorely lacking – money.  He has hired a lot of people with the right connections, impressive letters after their name and has thrown a great deal of his cash into expensive PR which, to be fair, has proved very effective. In fact, as with this CBD report, it is characterised by just how much media coverage it has obtained.  This, of course, has earned Birch’s cannabis ventures a reputation as leaders in their field. In fact, they are very much followers.  The content of their work is either directly copied from others’ work or is just a repeat of what has been done before.

The most high profile success achieved with Birch’s money and PR was the campaign around Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, two children with severe epilepsy, whose stories touched the heart of the nation and under enormous moral pressure forced the UK government into long-overdue reform of its blanket ban on cannabis as medicine.  Birch’s money certainly made all the difference. Exactly the same stories and messages had been delivered to the media many times before but it is a fact of life that you only get on to the breakfast and daytime TV shows and in all the tabloids with a very expensive PR operation.

So Birch is at it again with the CMC. It describes itself as the UK’s first and only industry membership body for businesses and investors operating in cannabis based medicinal products (CBMPs) and cannabidiol (CBD) wellness markets.“, which is as wholly false a claim as has ever been published about anything, anywhere.

The existing trade associations, CannaPro and the CTA, were formed years before the CMC and between them represent nearly 1,000 businesses operating in the legal cannabis sector.  Neither of them were consulted before or since the CMC’s report and the fact of their existence and the work they do in regulating the industry has been excluded from the report.

Of course, the CMC won’t name the products which its report showed to be so deficient because this would show that they are not from members of CannaPro or CTA and are therefore not at all representative of what consumers are actually buying. The irony is that PhytoVista, the lab used by the CMC, is itself a member of the CTA and provides testing services to many CannaPro and CTA members.

So take the results of the CMC CBD report with a very large pinch of salt, or perhaps with a tablespoon of hempseed oil containing only a trace of CBD.  It doesn’t tell the truth. It paints a false picture of an industry that is actually a model of self-regulation.

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 9, 2019 at 3:38 pm

Review. Gincanna Hemp-Infused Gin

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Adding CBD oil to drinks has become de rigeur in the past year or two. Even Coca Cola has expressed interest in entering the market. So when I first heard of CBD-infused alcoholic drinks I was intrigued. Gincanna is a result of a joint venture between CBD company Ev8 Life and Selkirk Distillers and it certainly offers a new twist on your usual G&T.

It’s not about the therapeutic or ‘wellness’ properties of CBD, it’s about flavour, so gin is the obvious candidate for such an idea because it is essentially a neutral tasting spirit infused with juniper berries and other botanicals which give each product its individual flavour.

To those who find the taste of CBD oil quite disgusting this may seem strange! Please take it from me that cannabis can provide a very pleasant flavour ingredient if used properly.  The classic hash brownie is perhaps the best example. A good recipe delivers a delicious earthy, herbal richness which blends very well with moist chocolate cake. Gincanna successfuly achieves the same sort of alchemy and although it’s a completely different context, it’s equally delightful.

Taking my tasting responsibilities very seriously, I sampled Gincanna neat to begin with, not something I would usually do with gin.  The earthy taste is not very prominent but remarkably when you add tonic and lemon that seems to bring it out.

It’s a successful blend, more than just a talking point and with the boom in trendy gin brands this is something that could do very well. Gordons, Bombay Sapphire or Gincanna, the choice is yours and it will be good to see it offered in all the most fashionable bars and at the most sophisticated occasions.  I can personally verify that a Ginacanna and tonic goes down very well on a summer’s evening with a nice, fat joint!

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 12, 2019 at 4:08 pm

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The CBD Market Can Help Drive Cannabis Law Reform But Selling So-Called ‘CBD Flowers’ Could Take Us Backwards

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Jim Weathers of Puff ‘n Stuff CBD shop, Cork, Ireland

Compliant businesses operating responsibly within the legal cannabis sector will help to drive reform. Blurring the lines between legal and illegal products will delay progress.

It seems that the crackdown on the open sale of cannabis flowers online and in high street stores is here.  Both in the UK and Ireland, several shops have been raided in recent weeks and some people are facing potential charges of supplying a class B drug and a possible jail sentence.

These flowers, sold under meaningless pseudonyms such as ‘CBD buds’ or ‘hemp flowers’ are cannabis and cannabis is a controlled drug in both the UK and Ireland.  As CLEAR has been warning for many months, there is no way that these can ever be ‘exempt products’ in the same way as CBD oil.  Their THC content makes no difference. The penalty is the same for any type of cannabis whether it contains zero THC or 25% THC.

It’s unclear whether CBD oil is legal at all in Ireland.  A more accurate description for these products is low-THC cannabis extracts and whereas the UK makes specific provision for exempt products in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, there does not seem to be any such provision in Irish law.

In other EU countries an even wider crackdown on CBD products is underway, fuelled also by the extraordinary and clearly unsustainable attempt to deem all cannabis extracts as ‘novel foods’.

Now it shouldn’t need to be said but CLEAR stands for an end to the prohibition of cannabis and all our work is directed towards that end.  Some people seem very confused that our efforts to clarify the law mean that we are on the side of prohibition but this is not the case.  Through our trade association, Cannabis Professionals (CannaPro) we refuse to certify businesses that sell cannabis flowers.  They are cheating their customers by misleading them that these products are legal.  They are also cheating all those other businesses operating within the legal cannabis sector who are working hard to remain compliant.  They are undermining the very good work that the CBD industry is doing to drive wider cannabis law reform.

Of course, many of us are buying cannabis illegally already.  Without our local dealers where would we all be under the oppressive and ridiculous regime under which we live? But our aim and the aim of all responsible cannabis campaigns is to ‘get the dealers off the street’ and move the trade into licensed, regulated outlets.  The emergence of the CBD market and high street retailers selling CBD oil has shown how this could work and there is no doubt at all that it has been a very significant factor in increasing public acceptance of cannabis and the recent reforms for medical access.

The people selling cannabis flowers and claiming they are legal are not heroes, campaigners or warriors in the war on prohibition. They are confidence tricksters, seizing the opportunity to make a quick buck by cheating and endangering their customers. No one is going to go to jail for buying cannabis but if you’ve bought low THC flowers and get charged with possession that could ruin you future prospects of travel, a career, even of keeping your driving licence.  If you’re going to take that risk you need to do so with your eyes open, with the honest trade of an illegal dealer rather than the dishonest trade of a shop or a website that is telling you lies.

Also, be very careful what you are buying.  The ‘CBD flowers’ currently being advertised are most certainly not what they claim to be.  The strain names are being misused.  White Widow, Lemon Haze or Pineapple Express do not come with 20% CBD and only traces of THC.  These products have been doctored.  There simply aren’t any cannabis strains that contain these constituents in these proportions.  What is probably happening is that they are being sprayed with CBD isolate and possibly terpene extracts to come with what are artificial cannabis buds.  Buy these and you are being cheated on many levels and you really don’t know what you are actually inhaling.

We are making steady and accelerating progress towards a rational cannabis policy but this latest development is unwelcome and unhelpful.  Trust your usual dealer.  If you’re buying cannabis flower, it comes with THC.  If you want added CBD take a little oil or vape some CBD crumble.  This will give you a far better result than these fake flowers. It will enhance the therapeutic properties of your cannabis if you’re consuming for medical reasons.  It will give you a far better buzz if you’re consuming for pleasure.

Nothing good will come from these fake flowers. Compliant businesses operating responsibly within the legal cannabis sector will help to drive reform. Blurring the lines between legal and illegal products will delay progress.

 

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 21, 2019 at 2:40 pm

The EU’s Attempt To Deem Cannabis Extracts As Novel Foods Will Fail.

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Status of Hemp Extracts in Europe – European Industrial Hemp Association

The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) has published an excellent eight page document which refutes the recent move by EU food safety agencies to deem cannabis extracts as ‘novel foods’.

Download the document here.

The document explains the entire situation and demonstrates very clearly that this move by the EU is misguided. It shows how these products have been consumed in Europe fro many years, if not centuries, probably millennia and that the EU has previously confirmed in writing that they are not novel.

Aside from these fundamental issues, there are a number of reasons why the process the EU and the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) have followed is flawed and unlawful.

What seems absolutely clear is that this initiative, which is intended to close down the burgeoning CBD market, is based on the intervention of vested interests which are concerned to see a multimillion pound/euro industry emerge in the space of a few years, almost exclusively amongst small and medium-sized businesses.  This is an opportunity which multinational conglomerates have missed and there is no doubt that its success is affecting many existing markets, notably over-the-counter pain medicines.

The EU and government agencies such as the FSA have always been the friends of big business and the intention here has been to force small business into huge costs associated with novel food authorisation which would effectively close their businesses down.

There are many overblown conspiracy theories, particularly around cannabis for medical use and the pharmaceutical industry but this attack on the CBD market, for no valid reason, is difficult to explain in any other way. It seems certain that improper pressure has been brought to bear on these regulators and they are trying to use their powers, improperly and unlawfully, to protect the interests of big business.

They are too late.  The CBD business has grown very quickly and is now too far advanced to be closed down and there is no justifiable reason to do so.  This attempt to impose novel foods status will fail.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 13, 2019 at 10:20 am

CBD Switzerland. Whole Plant Extract From Swiss-Grown Industrial Hemp.

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Although something in my value system, no doubt instilled in my now very distant childhood, tells me that medicine is supposed to taste bad, there is no strict correlation between nasty taste and powerful effect.  Some cannabis extracts taste foul, others are bearable and there a few that capture the distinctive, earthy taste of the plant and are really very nice.

The first time I saw a bottle of CBD Switzerland oil, I was pretty sceptical.  It’s virtually crystal clear and I thought this is isolate in a carrier oil or it’s had all the goodness refined out of it – but the taste is just wonderful. The new trend for cooking with cannabis is a strange mix of hype, ignorance, fad-of-the-moment veganism and in a few cases its about getting high but there is a cannabis taste that is really desirable and works well in both sweet and savoury dishes.  CBD Switzerland has captured that taste in a bottle.

The lab tests and a week of regular use confirmed for me that this is very much the real thing.  There are other oils that I also rate very highly for taste but the combination of taste and clarity is stunning and I expect it is what more and more consumers will be looking for as the CBD market matures.  This is probably the most modern, consumer friendly oil on the market. No doubt, a little further down the line, the same expertise in extraction and refinement can be applied to a THC product and that will be a winner.

CBD Switzerland offers its oil in virtually any specification required, either zero THC or with the trace levels that are present in a full spectrum extract from plants with 0.2% THC.  Standard concentrations are 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% or 25% in either hempseed or MCT carrier oil.  Full spectrum soft gels are available containing 10mg CBD each.  Recently a THC-free distillate has been added with either 95% or 75% CBD content, a full spectrum, liposomal, water soluble mix and CBD vape liquid.  As a white label supplier, CBD Switzerland offers everything that a CBD business could need to formulate and produce its own products.

Download the CBD Switzerland brochure here.

Written by Peter Reynolds

April 25, 2019 at 3:42 pm

CannaPro Seizes the Initiative in the CBD and Novel Foods Debacle

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Cannabis Professionals (CannaPro), the trade association for the UK’s cannabis, CBD and hemp businesses, has instructed solicitors to take decisive action in the ongoing row between the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the UK’s fastest-growing food supplement market for cannabidiol (CBD) products.

TLT Solicitors, acting on behalf of CannaPro, has sent a formal letter to the FSA warning it of the consequences of taking any enforcement action against CannaPro Certified Businesses.  An industry-wide claim for such compensation could amount to many hundreds of millions of pounds/euros.  A copy of the letter can be seen here. This offers some degree of protection to all businesses that are CannaPro Certified.

Acting in conjunction with its opposite numbers in several EU states, the FSA has sought to classify CBD products and all cannabis extracts as ‘novel’ by listing them in the EU Novel Food catalogue. This threatens to destroy a market that is now worth up to £100 million pa, employs hundreds of people and is meeting the healthcare and wellness needs of hundreds of thousands of UK citizens.

A ‘novel food’ is defined as a food or food ingredient that was not in widespread consumption in the EU area before 1997.  In reality, cannabis, in varieties known as hemp, has been consumed as food for at least 10,000 years and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest cultivated crop. The FSA’s action is irrational, defies history and reverses previous statements by the FSA that cannabis and hemp are not ‘novel’.

Peter Reynolds, president of CannaPro, said:

“The FSA has made a series of errors in the way it has handled this.  The whole process has been misguided and unlawful, not to say that the whole idea CBD products can be regarded as novel is nonsense. It has undertaken no proper consultation and although there have been vague discussions around the issue for a couple of years, the FSA has changed its position time and time again.  What’s really going on here is that big business and powerful vested interests have been caught on the hop while enterprising small businesses have established a market which is now worth an awful lot of money. Improper pressure has been brought on the regulator to find a way of clamping down.  It would suit these vested interests to see the market so strictly regulated that small businesses are unable to compete.  CannaPro is not going to stand by and let that happen.”

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 26, 2019 at 6:00 pm

CBD Isolates Are NOT Becoming A Controlled Substance

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Mike Harlington’s CTA has put out an announcement that CBD isolates are becoming a controlled substance.  There is no truth in this at all, it is nothing but speculation and opinion.

Even if the speculation is correct that isolates will remain classified as a novel food, the terminology is wrong. ‘Controlled’ has a specific meaning in UK law and is applied to drugs classified and scheduled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  There is no prospect whatsoever of this applying to CBD in any form.

It is correct that the FSA initially classified isolates as novel in January 2018 and no reasonable person can have any objection to this.  Clearly, there cannot be any evidence of them having been consumed in the EU area prior to 1997.  It’s a separate point that this is bureaucratic overkill.  There’s no evidence that isolates are unsafe so there’s no reason to require them to go through an authorisation process except simply to comply with the letter of the law. It is bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake and a complete waste of the FSA’s time and taxpayers’ money.

Another, more pertinent point is that despite isolates being classified as novel for well over a year, the FSA has done absolutely nothing about enforcement.  This whole rigmarole is pointless and doing little else other than keeping civil servants in work, making up rules which they then do nothing about.

What remains a far more worrying prospect, which has been entirely overlooked, is that in June 2018, the FSA also indicated that selective extracts would be regarded as novel. The argument for this is equally as strong and logical as it is for isolates and this poses a much more worrying prospect for the CBD industry.

Selective extracts are extracts in which the proportions of the component moleclues have been adjusted, most commonly by the elimination of THC.  Making such adjustments, dialling up or down particular components is an inherent facility of supercritical CO2 extraction. But just as there can be no evidence of isolates having been consumed in the EU area prior to 1997, neither can there be any for selective extracts.  Extracts consumed in the past will have been made by less sophisticated processes that do not permit such adjustments.

So the deep irony in this is that in order to avoid any infringement of drugs laws by removing the THC, such products will be in breach of food law.

Where the FSA is going with this no one knows. It has made major errors in its bungling and incompetent attempt to outlaw CBD products and its top priority now seems to be saving face.  Similarly, having bragged about his mythical ‘close working relationship’ with the FSA, Harlington is also desperately trying to save face and make it look as if he is ahead of the game.  It’s just more of his characteristic bluster and bullshit.  Don’t be taken in.

Any predictions I will make about the future will also be speculation but I am quite confident that this time next year whole plant, low-THC cannabis extracts will still be on sale. In fact I am sure that the market will have continued to expand rapidly.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 13, 2019 at 10:35 pm

Presentation at the Hemp CBD Expo, 2nd March 2019

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I spoke at the Hemp CBD Expo at around 5.00pm on Saturday, 2nd March 2019.  Below is my speech as originally composed.  An audio file is available here. A video will be available shortly. My PowerPoint presentation file is here.

“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

My name is Peter Reynolds and I am the president of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform. We were founded in 1999 and we now have around three-quarters of a million followers on social media and we’re approaching a total of 5,000 paid up members.  That makes us the longest-established cannabis group in the UK and our follower and membership base is several times that of all other UK drugs policy groups put together.

Last year we launched Cannabis Professionals or CannaPro, the trade association for the UK’s cannabis, CBD and hemp businesses.  I am going to explain to you why, what we think we can contribute to this industry and how we are going to do it.

First of all though I have some BREAKING NEWS!

Downing Street has just confirmed that the mastermind behind the FSA’s decision to place CBD products in the EU Novel Food Catalogue is none other than Theresa May’s number one fixer, Chris Grayling!

Now that’s not really true, in fact it’s fake news but there is a kernel of truth in it and that is that just like everything else Grayling touches, this move is the height of incompetence and just as many are calling for Grayling’s blood, so too they will be calling for some accountability at the FSA.

First of all, these are CLEAR’s aims and objectives.

It’s a pleasure to be asked to speak to you today and I do think that this event represents a significant moment in the legal cannabis industry in the UK.

Of course we’ve had a legal cannabis industry for thousands of years.  There was just a brief interlude between 1964 and 1993 when even the cultivation of industrial hemp was banned. So, although there have been severe restrictions on cannabis since 1928, it was actually only those 29 years when there was no legal industry at all.

The CBD business as we know it today started in about 2012 and at CLEAR we saw immediately what it was about. By then, largely due to uptake of the internet, knowledge of the medicinal benefits of cannabis was exploding.  People were looking for a way that they could enjoy these benefits without breaking the law.  The big leap came with the story of Charlotte Figi, when the almost miraculous effect of CBD on epilepsy became widely understood.  It was really in 2013/14 when CBD websites started to appear in numbers. Back in those early days the leading brands were Plus CBD and, of course, Charlotte’s Web. In Europe, Endoca was leading the way.

And now look where we are!  This show is the realisation of a market which no one has really quantified but is certainly worth at least £50 million a year and probably a whole lot more.

At CLEAR we realised very early on that the way this market developed was going to have a huge influence on wider cannabis law reform and that’s why we have been deeply involved with it from the very beginning.  I genuinely believe that the medical reforms last year only happened because the booming CBD market has washed away a lot of the stigma around cannabis and shown hundreds of thousands of people that it does have real therapeutic benefits.

And here we come to one of the most difficult aspects of this business. CBD businesses are not allowed to claim or imply any medicinal benefits from their products yet you can be absolutely certain that is exactly the reason most people are buying them!

I cannot think of another market or a comparable situation where anything like this has happened before.  It is one of the principle reasons why we are facing such opposition from the medical and big business establishment.

I have never been a supporter of the Big Pharma conspiracy theory that pervades the cannabis campaign.  Particularly in the USA, the pharmaceutical industry is thought to be almost entirely responsible for continuing federal prohibition.  In fact if you read Facebook comments from our American followers you’d think that Big Pharma was responsible for nearly every problem on our planet!

Now I don’t say there’s no truth in it at all but there’s precious little evidence aside from the isolated instance of Insys Therapeutics where the former directors are now looking at very long jail sentences for a variety of corruption offences. But there’s not much else to support the theory.  In fact, if Big Pharma could harness the healing power of cannabis that some of the more extreme evangelists claim for it, they’d be all over it.  And no, it’s not true that you can’t patent cannabis, there are hundreds of patents on extracts, applications and techniques.

It is a different world in America though, far more competitive about medicines because they don’t have an NHS.  Unlike here, drug companies advertise direct to the public and branding is as big in medicine as it is in soft drinks or fast food.

However, I do think that the intervention in this industry from the MHRA back in 2016 and now the FSA has some sinister, vested interests behind it. I think major corporations see a potentially huge market here and it would suit them for it to be so heavily regulated that only the biggest businesses can make it work. I also think it’s a pathological obsession of bureaucrats to interfere when something big is happening which they haven’t got their claws into – and I think these regulators are being improperly influenced to interfere when there’s no real justification.

After all, the World Health Organisation has given CBD a clean bill of health, not in the equivocal way that most such decisions are made but absolutely.  It says CBD is safe.

I’ve had a number of meetings with the FSA over the past 12 – 18 months. The most recent being on 1st February about the current novel foods debacle.  One moment stands out from that which is instructive about the way that regulators operate.  The Head of Novel Foods confirmed for me that the purpose of the legislation was to ensure safety of food and food ingredients.  He also confirmed that the FSA has no evidence to suggest that CBD products are unsafe.

It’s bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake.  In my opinion, a flagrant waste of taxpayers’ money, that’s our money, when there are so many more important things we could be spending it on.  For me, as a Brexiteer, it’s more reinforcement of the reason I voted leave.  We have more than enough busy body bureaucrats in the UK without more and more layers of it from the EU.  It should be instructive to everybody of the way that civil servants’ minds work that this attack on our industry was made surreptitiously through the EU when we’re supposed to be freeing ourselves of those shackles.

As a wider point, if we’ve got civil servants kicking their heels, desperate to interfere in something new, why don’t they get on with regulating the entire cannabis market properly? The immense damage that the £6 billion criminal market causes in our society is something that really does need intervention.

So, going back to the MHRA’s intervention in the CBD market in 2016. There had been mutterings for some months but it was Dan Culbertson of Love CBD who tipped me off that something was actually happening.

I spoke to some of my key contacts, particularly Tom and Tony of Love Hemp and I approached the MHRA seeking a meeting.  As in most cases like this, its first resort was to try and ignore us but eventually I had the Conservative MP, Crispin Blunt and the neurologist Professor Mike Barnes write to the chief executive.  They were both members of the CLEAR board and that did lead to the MHRA agreeing to meet.

This was the creation of the Cannabis Trades Association. As well as Love Hemp I invited other key contacts to attend the first meeting and then offered the job of running the CTA to an individual who you all know, who at the time Tom, Tony and I were in partnership with as he was supposed to be running a licensed industrial hemp farm for the extraction of CBD oil.

The progress of the MHRA’s intervention followed a path which seems to be strangely repeated in what is now happening with the FSA.  That is, it came in very heavy handed and aggressive to begin with, threatening action which it really didn’t have the authority to implement but then it backed off quite quickly when we stood up to its bullying and demonstrated a professional attitude.  Based on the clinical trials that GW Pharma were conducting with Epidiolex, its cannabidiol medicine, I proposed a maximum daily adult dosage of 200mg as the most important element of an agreement that would enable CBD to continue to be sold as a food supplement.

Now, even to this day, the MHRA has still not confirmed its agreement to this (last they told me was that they are still ‘considerin’g it) but in practice it has accepted it.  Again, this should be instructive to all of us about the way that bureaucrats work.

The other big issue, of course, was about not making medical claims and for the two years that I worked intensively as part of the CTA, we did a good job of bringing responsible businesses into compliance and, largely speaking, we had defeated the MHRA’s attempt to close the industry down.

As many of you will know, I, and indeed Love Hemp, resigned from the CTA in October last year.  Anyone who wants to know why can very easily find out. Just look at my personal website. Suffice to say that we had very grave concerns about issues of dishonesty and unethical conduct.

I’m not going to say any more about that today but I am going to talk about how I believe a trade association should operate.

Now this is not a pitch for members because CannaPro doesn’t have members in the same way as other organisations. It makes no difference to me or to CannaPro if you choose to give large amounts of money to another trade body. We see no necessity to charge large monthly fees for providing a service which directly supports CLEAR’s aims and objectives. As I said at the beginning, we see the development of the legal cannabis market as one of the most important drivers of cannabis law reform.  Only if we can demonstrate that we can run responsible and legally compliant businesses in CBD and exempt products will we be able to claim we can do the same with products that contain THC.

Also, we don’t believe it is desirable for a trade association to make money or turn into a bureaucracy itself.  It’s the businesses that should be making a profit and building resources for themselves. A trade association should not be about empire building, its focus should be on the businesses it is supposed to support, not on itself.

So while I don’t rule out CannaPro ever charging membership fees, for now the only time we ask for money is when we carry out a review of a business’s products, website, marketing methods and trading standards.  This then enables us to offer any necessary advice or guidance on compliance and if we are satisfied to certify the business, so that it can display a CannaPro Certified badge.  We charge a £120 one-off application fee for this and there are no further ongoing charges.

We are already well advanced, working with leading media consultants on putting together a national advertising campaign delivering the same message that we are already doing on social media.  Something like this…

Similarly, CannaPro will always publish all its advice and guidance openly.  We can see no purpose in keeping it secret or operating behind closed doors when our intention is to support the industry as a whole.

We have communicated openly about our recent negotiations with the FSA and we will continue to do so.  If you follow CannaPro we will keep you apprised of the latest developments as they happen and we will not insist you have to become a member and pay fees in order to share in this intelligence.

Another important principle is that CannaPro represents the industry to the authorities and not vice versa. We are not an extension of government, doing its enforcement work at our members’ expense.  It is our job to stand up to meddling, interfering bureaucrats and to push back at them.  We will defend this industry against attack without requiring it to fund a new bureaucracy in its trade association.

For instance, we entirely support the prohibition of medical claims for CBD products.  This is not a new thing and clearly before anyone can claim medical benefits for anything it must be subject to testing and verification.  The alternative is that we will have snake oil, nothing more than coloured water, offered as a cancer cure and to be fair, we have already had almost exactly that in the CBD market.  If any of you have ever come across a joker trading as Sacred Kana, that is exactly what he is doing. Claiming to sell 10,000 mg of CBD for less than fifty quid which will cure you of stage 4 cancer.  He’s an extreme case. There are others operating along the same lines and frankly I do think people like this need strong action against them.  They should go to jail and be permanently restrained from ever running a business.

But the trouble is the MHRA is doing virtually nothing about enforcement. Similarly, the FSA, which declared CBD isolate a novel food over a year ago, is doing nothing about enforcing that.

Really medicines regulation in this country and across the first world is broken, unfit for purpose and entirely self-serving for the pharmaceutical industry.  The process, administered by the MHRA, has been designed for the pharmaceutical industry by people who used to work in the pharmaceutical industry and it is incapable of regulating a plant based medicine.  Everyone involved has a vested interest in prolonging the process and extending its complexity because the millions spent on clinical trials go into companies which are owned by the pharmaceutical industry.

There was a study published in the Journal of Molecular Neurobiology last year which identified CBD as an ideal candidate for a fast-acting, effective anti-depressant with few side effects.  But the reality is that to obtain a marketing authorisation in the UK or the EU or an FDA licence would take many, many years, tens of millions in investment and would result in a much higher price than necessary.  But as it stands that is the only way to develop a medicine that can be prescribed by a medical profession that is so risk averse it has forgotten how to care for patients.  Just since the new regulations on medical cannabis last November I have lost count of the number of reports we have received where a consultant flatly refuses even to consider cannabis but will prescribe opioids in a prescription that can be repeated simply by asking for it.  And the British Paediatric Neurology Association says that using CBD for epilepsy should be the last resort.  Literally they say try brain surgery, slicing into a child’s brain, before trying CBD.

So we have these bureaucracies which are supposed to be acting in the public interest but they’re marking their own homework, ensuring their former and future colleagues benefit from the regulations they impose with fat fees and lucrative contracts and preventing anyone who isn’t part of their club from having any chance of getting a licence for a medicine. They overreach themselves, attempting to set rules and regulations often beyond their lawful authority (the Home Office is a particularly heinous examples of this) and then, when these regulations are breached, they’re not even enforcing the most serious infringements.

An example in point is the question of hemp teas.  Now if these are made from leaf and flower, they are cannabis and they are an illegal, class B drug which theoretically could get any of you selling them 14 years in jail.  But this has never been enforced and CannaPro will certify businesses that sell hemp teas.  We will not certify businesses that sell CBD flowers or buds because these are cannabis and their THC content is irrelevant to their legal status.  Yet there’s no enforcement of this going on.  There are shops in virtually every town in this country openly selling low-THC cannabis flowers and nothing is being done about it.  Now this is wrong.  These businesses are stealing your business when you are doing your best to operate within the law and they should be stopped. Even when cannabis is fully legalised, there will still be regulations that need to be enforced.

Believe it or not, I was contacted by the drugs lead at West Midlands Police just last wek asking for my advice on hemp flowers, so I told him.  I confirmed they are illegal and I explained to him why and how they cannot be classified as exempt in the same way as CBD oil. And what I said to him was the same as I would say to anyone else. If you’re going to break the ridiculous law which prohibits adults accessing cannabis, then my advice is have some THC in your buds. It makes no difference under the law whether your flowers have 0.2% THC or 20% but I know which I prefer.

So it’s about balance. It’s about being sensible. The MHRA says a link to a study about CBD for anxiety is an implied claim of medicinal benefit. Strictly speaking it probably is but provided it’s not part of a concerted attempt to present products as medicines then it would not stop that business being certified by CannaPro.

CannaPro is on the side of the entire industry whether you’re certified by us or not because this industry’s future is the future of cannabis.  We are not exclusive of anyone.  We are inclusive.  You can have our advice and guidance without charge.

And we are in the vanguard of developing CBD medicines.  All the work I do for CLEAR and CannaPro is voluntary.  I get paid nothing for it.  I make my living as a writer and marketing consultant but more and more as an advisor on cannabis product development and licensing.  I am working with clients on the development of products which can be marketed under the new regulations as Cannabis-based Products for Medicinal use – CBPMs. Also on products for which we will apply for a Traditional Herbal Registration – THR and for veterinary CBD products which require a marketing authorisation from the VMD.

As I published when I first created the CTA, the intention was to establish a trade association that would represent to government the interests of those engaged in legitimate production and sale of cannabis products.  Those are the values and the purpose which we carry forward in CannaPro and I look forward to working with a many of you as possible in that cause towards ending forever the prohibition of cannabis.

My real, long term objective is to close down CLEAR.  I look to the day when complete reform of our cannabis laws has been achieved. There will still be regulations as there are in all legal markets but as long as adults have legal access to cannabis in all its forms for both therapeutic use and as an alternative to alcohol as a recreational drug – and the right to grow it, even within limits – then and only then, our work will be done.”

Cannabis and CBD. UK and EU Bureaucrats -v- The People and Parliament.

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For decades, public opinion and knowledge on cannabis has been way ahead of those in Parliament and civil servants in the Home Office and the Department of Health.

In other countries, governments have been more ready to update themselves on scientific knowledge and they are more speedily held to account through more effective democracies. At last, the UK Parliament has acted on access to cannabis for medical use as it should have 20 years ago.  Both Canada and the Netherlands introduced legal access in 2001 and California even five years before that.

But the will of Parliament is being stifled and subverted by bureaucracts in the NHS and the Department of Health.  As MPs are never shy to remind us, under our constitution, Parliament is supreme.  That makes the conduct of these civil servants unlawful.  They are being obstructive about the prescribing of cannabis.  They need to be compliant with the law or they become guilty of maladminstration.  We should have no more patience with this wilful misconduct.  Their responsibility is to facilitate implementation of the law, not find ways to delay it because of their personal opinions.

The same goes for the Home Office which has done absolutely nothing to revise its cannabis licensing policy in accordance with the new regulations.  Well-qualified, experienced, international corporations, willing to make multimillion pound investments in Britain to produce the cannabis-based products (CBPMs) which we need are being refused licences for no good reason. If the products are not available, how will they ever reach the patients who Parliament has decreed are entitled to access them?

For 50 years, the Home Office has run a systematic campaign of disinformation because it is institutionally opposed to cannabis. Until Sajid Javid, civil servants have thwarted the efforts of all minsters that have tried to introduce any drugs policy reform.  Now he has to stand up against the subversive forces within his own department or someone has to fund judical review of the Home Office’s maladminstration of cannabis licensing. Just as in the Windrush Scandal, the Home Office maintains a ‘hostile environment’ based on senior civil servants’ personal prejudices rather than the best interests of Britain and now, the law.

CBD. Big Pharma Protectionism, Bureaucrat Box-Ticking or Both?

Many people are not yet aware of the meddling that is going on with CBD products.  There is a real threat that they could be removed from sale within the next few months.  This depsite their soaring popularity with the public and that hundreds, if not thousands of people are now employed in our burgeoning CBD industry.

CBD products are, in fact, whole plant extracts from low-THC cannabis which meet the criteria under drugs law to be exempt.  They have become very popular because people were seeking a legal way of accessing the medicinal benefits of cannabis which have become widely understood, mainly as the internet has provided knowledge previously suppressed by government and media scaremongering.

Two years ago, the meddling began as civil servants from the MHRA, the medicines regulator, stepped in with heavy-handed threats to close the market down because of unlawful medicinal claims.  To be fair, there was good justification for this.  Medicines regulation is an essential function of government, otherwise we will have snake oil confidence tricksters selling coloured water as a cancer cure.  So CLEAR acted and organised a response to the MHRA from the leading CBD companies.  Now, the responsible and ethical companies have regulated themselves, stopped making medicinal claims and market their products as food supplements, just like vitamins and minerals than can help to maintain health and boost wellness.

So CBD companies have successfully negotiated their way through both drugs and medicines law but now the food police have stepped in with yet more problems.  This time the civil servants objections are entirely unnecessary and unjustifiable but they are the most serious threat that CBD companies and consumers have faced.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) from the UK and its opposite numbers in other EU countries have placed cannabis extracts in the EU Novel Foods Catalogue, which is for products that have not been consumed to a significant degree in the EU before 1997. This means that without going through a lengthy and very expensive authorisation process, all CBD products could become unlawful to sell.

Why?  When I met with the FSA and its novel foods team just over a week ago, it acknowledged that the purpose of the novel foods regulations was to ensure that food products and supplements are safe.  It also confirmed that it had no evidence that cannabis extracts or CBD products are unsafe. So, on the face of it, this seems to be simply a matter of bureaucrats who want their boxes ticked, for no other reason than that is what bureaucrats do.

But the widely-held opinion from those in the know, is that what is really behind this are the vested interests of painkiller companies who are seeing a big impact on sales of their products. Even the World Health Organization has recently given CBD an unequivocal endorsement as safe and effective, whereas the toxicity of paracetamol, ibuprofen, other NSAIDs and opioids is now well understood.

You see, however CBD products are sold, it is an indisputable fact that they are purchased for their medicinal benefit – and that they work.  This is a big threat to pharmaceutical company profits and so they are wielding their big stick.  They tried through the MHRA to close down CBD and now they are trying through the FSA.

Exactly the same thing is happening in the USA.  The recent passage of the Farm Bill has removed CBD from the Controlled Substances Act but now the FDA (which combines the functions of our MHRA and FSA) has stepped in and said it is illegal to sell as a food supplement because it is the active ingredient in a licensed medicine.

We Will Overcome

So a battle royal is starting.  What the outcome will be is uncertain.  It is complex and multi-threaded.  Different strategies are being developed and varying ideas are being put forward as to how to deal with this threat.  Many people now rely on CBD for their health and the imminent threat of it not being available is a danger to individuals and so to our entire society.

Whatever happens, I am certain that commonsense and the people will prevail.  For a century, the use of cannabis as medicine has continued despite every effort from governments and vested interests to stamp it out.  The same will happen with CBD.  Even it it disappears from the high street, it will continue to be available online and if it can’t be sold as a food supplement, it will move into a new category.

Once again, it will take politicians far too long to wake up and out-of-control civil servants will try to pursue their own agenda which, I am quite sure, is under the corrupt and improper influence of big business.  It will be challenging and very difficult but the people have dealt with these dark forces before and we will continue to do so.

Written by Peter Reynolds

February 10, 2019 at 2:19 pm