Campaigners are urging the Home Office to tear up rules which are holding back the hemp industry and leaving the UK reliant on imports.
Legislations requires farmers of hemp, the plant which is used to extract valuable CBD for popular lifestyle products, to destroy 80% of their crop.
Domestic producers can extract CBD from the stalks and seeds but must dispose of the rest of the plant because it is controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act despite holding no psychoactive properties.
The CBD industry is already worth £300m and is forecast to grow to £1bn by 2025 but British farmers are being locked out of the booming industry.
Instead, CBD manufacturers import raw material from abroad, with Switzerland – which allows hemp with THC content of up to 1% to be grown legally – benefiting the most.
The UK continues to follow EU rules on THC content in hemp – a strict limit of 0.2% that is set to rise to 0.3% – but campaigners argue there is a big opportunity for the Government to diverge from the bloc post-Brexit and help the sector boom.
A new report titled ‘Pleasant Lands’ coordinated by drugs reform advocacy group Volteface is calling on the Home Office to change course.
Paul North, director of Volteface, said: “It is embarrassing that the UK has an industry which is currently worth £300 million, but British farmers are not benefiting from it.
“The CBD market must be embraced, and British cultivation would provide the UK a major growth industry to help the UK bounce back during the Covid recovery.
“Let’s back British farmers and make changes to this pointless, draconian situation.”
The report’s findings have received political backing from influential chair of the all-party parliamentary group on drugs reform, Crispin Blunt MP.
The Conservative politician said: “People in the UK, as elsewhere, deserve safe access to first-rate CBD products.
“There is no reason why Britain should not produce them, to at least as high a standard as anywhere else.”
As previously reported, the issue is being discussed in Whitehall, with Environment Minister Victoria Prentis confirming that her department will be ‘commissioning a project into the potential use of under-utilised, underdeveloped or novel crops, including hemp’.
Another of the report’s authors, Lily Temperton of cannabis consultancy firm Hanway Associates, said freeing up the hemp industry ‘will create new jobs and infrastructure, boost the economy and allow UK farmers and businesses to compete with their European counterparts’.
Rob Jappie, industry expert and partner at Ince, said: “We urge the UK Home Office to grasp this opportunity to make hemp cultivation, along with utilisation of the entirety of the plant, a central part of British agricultural policy.”
Curaleaf partnership to build platform for German recreational market
The company has entered into a strategic partnership with Germany’s Four 20 Pharma.
Curaleaf has acquired a 55 per cent stake in Four 20 Pharma – a fully EU-GMP and GDP licensed German producer and distributor of medical cannabis with its own product line.
Germany currently represents the largest medical cannabis market in Europe, with a total addressable market of over €200m (~£m) in 2022. This is expected to grow to nearly €1bn by the end of 2024 with the expected legalisation of recreational cannabis, expected to begin in late 2023 or early 2024.
Four 20 Pharma is one of the largest cannabis operators in Germany, with a greater than 10 per cent market share.
The partnership creates a strategic pathway for Curaleaf to acquire complete control of Four 20 Pharma within two years of the commencement of adult use in Germany. Curleaf has stated that the partnership also ensures alignment between Curaleaf and Four 20 Pharma’s current management team to rapidly build a best-in-class German business and a strong platform for Germany’s eventual adult use market.
Curaleaf executive chairman, Boris Jordan, commented: “By partnering with Four20 Pharma, Curaleaf’s European business will immediately gain additional critical mass and be in a superior position to capitalise on the accelerating trends in the European cannabis market.
“The opportunity in Europe cannot be understated, and Curaleaf is uniquely differentiated from other US MSOs via our already significant presence as the largest and most licensed cannabis company in Europe.
“With cultivation facilities in Portugal, manufacturing facilities in Spain and UK, rapidly growing patient numbers across Europe, particularly in the UK, Curaleaf serves the entire legal cannabis ecosystem and is also poised to capitalise on the adult use opportunity as regulation starts to unlock.
“This strategic transaction further underscores our aspiration to be the major player in the European market and the leading global cannabis company.”
President of Curaleaf International, Miles Worne, said: “Four 20 Pharma is a leading German distributor with a branded product that consumers love. They’ve captured significant market share in Germany by sourcing product from top EU-GMP certified suppliers around the world and building strong connections with German medical consumers by providing the highest quality flower in a namesake branded offering.
“As such, Four 20 Pharma is uniquely positioned to capitalise on Germany’s conversion from a medical to an adult use market and we’re thrilled to be partnering with their talented management team.”
Managing Partner of Four 20 Pharma, Torsten Greif, commented: “We have been exploring possible partners to stake our claim in the future German and European cannabis markets, and in Curaleaf we know we’ve found the undisputed leader and the best partner.
“From the beginning of our conversations, it was clear that they supported our strategic vision and respected our autonomy and entrepreneurial approach. Having full access to the tremendous knowledge and assets of the Curaleaf team will accelerate our future growth projects and help drive our company to the next level.”
Managing partner of Four 20 Pharma, Thomas Schatton, added: “Curaleaf shares our values of customer dedication and commitment to product quality, and we are incredibly excited about our future together.
“The team at Four 20 are thrilled to be able to leverage Curaleaf’s proven R&D expertise to help us continue delivering the best quality products to our medical patients and the promising future market.”
Tenacious Labs acquires CBD pet company Rover’s Wellness
The acquisition is part of Tenacious Labs buy-and-build strategy.
Tenacious Labs has diversified into the pet care market with the acquisition of Rover’s Wellness, which specialises in THC-free CBD.
The acquisition sees the group diversify into the high-growth pet care market for the first time. CBD pet care, according to Prohibition Partners, is expected to see global sales of products reach $424.4m (~£350.83) by 2024, representing a CAGR of 18.6 per cent.
As part of the acquisition, RaChelle Baca-Lobre will join Tenacious Labs as global director of sales – pet division and CPG wholesale and private label. Tenacious has stated that Baca-Lobre’s personal passion for CBD-enriched pet care, as well as her experience in managing a fast-growing brand, will prove invaluable for the Group as it looks to scale up its pet care division over the coming months.
CEO and co-founder of Tenacious Labs, Nicholas Morland, commented: “We are delighted to welcome RaChelle and her team to Tenacious Labs.
“Since launching in 2018, Rover’s Wellness has grown rapidly, launching genuinely market-leading products which have been well received by customers across the US. This acquisition will enable us to kick-start our pet care division, while combining RaChelle’s expertise and Tenacious Labs’ high quality manufacturing capabilities to significantly scale up Rover’s Wellness.
“We look forward to working with her closely over the coming months and years.
Tennessee-based Rover’s Wellness creates high quality products containing all natural, non-GMO ingredients including 100 per cent certified organically grown hemp. The company was founded by Baca-Lobre in 2018 after her own pet was diagnosed with cancer. Rover’s Wellness offers a range of oils, topical salves and treats which use CBD to support joint flexibility and mobility, ease anxiety and promote positive long-term health for dogs, cats and equine.
A core part of the brand’s approach is its commitment to testing and transparency. Leveraging a “seed to sale” approach, Rover’s Wellness works directly with growers and uses state-of-the-art nano technology to extract CBD before purity testing.
Each batch is tested by a certified industrial hemp laboratory, both before and after production, with all lab-results published on its website. This process ensures that none of Rover’s Wellness products contain THC – the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis which is harmful to animals.
Baca-Lobre said: “I am excited to join Tenacious Labs, a group which reflects my desire to create safe, natural and quality products, underpinned by third-party laboratory testing.
“We have enjoyed great success to date, and I believe that by harnessing Tenacious Labs’ best-in-class manufacturing facilities, marketing expertise, and operational support, we can unlock more exciting growth opportunities for Rover’s Wellness and the group’s broader pet care division.”
Tenacious Labs has now completed three acquisitions since launching 12 months ago, including female-focused CBD brand Press Pause and high-quality white-label manufacturer SZM LLC — now operating as TL Manufacturing. The group has also continued to expand, now employing 35 people around the world as it looks to scale up.
Khiron announces opening of first Zerenia medical cannabis clinic in Brazil
The new clinic will increase patient access to medical cannabis.
European medical cannabis group, Khiron, has opened its first Zerenia medical cannabis clinic in Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as it continues its expansion into the country.
As part of its expansion into a number of jurisdictions across the globe, including Germany and Spain following recent developments, Khiron has now opened its Zerenia Rio clinic.
The clinic will provide physical consultations and telehealth services, connecting patients with medical specialists trained in the ethical, safe and responsible prescription of cannabinoid-based medications.
The medications focus on the treatment of conditions such as chronic pain, neurological pathologies, palliative care, rheumatology, psychiatry, geriatrics, endocrinology, gastroenterology, gynecology, otorhinolaryngology and dermatology.
Located in Ipanema, a city with more than 12 million people, the clinic’s initial phase will have a total capacity of approximately 23,000 patient consults per year.
The clinic will be under the leadership of Dr Eduardo Faveret as medical director and will open with more than 13 doctors for both in-person and telehealth models.
Dr Faveret commented: “Brazil continues to experience exponential growth in prescribing doctors and demand for medical cannabis products by patients. Zerenia Rio, is positioned as a comprehensive and humanised pioneer in patient health service and prevention to improve the quality of life of Brazilian families.
“We have assembled a multidisciplinary medical team that covers diverse medical cannabis specialties and treatments, which makes our Zerenia Rio clinic unique in Brazil.”
Dr Faveret and the Zerenia Rio clinic will be supported by Khiron’s strategic alliances with doctors and patient associations, including CANNAB in Salvador de Bahia, and leading medical distributors such as TAIMIN in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
Later this year, Khiron is expecting to launch additional THC medical cannabis products in the country, which will complement its current global portfolio.
CEO and director of Khiron Life Sciences, Alvaro Torres, said: “Khiron has developed a unique, successful, and sustainable model with the implementation of Zerenia in Colombia, Perú, and the United Kingdom.
“Brazil is Latin America´s largest addressable market with more than 210 million people and we believe that our Zerenia model will replicate the success we have experienced around the world.
“We have served more than 25,000 individual patients across the globe through our model, with high peer patient acquisition and retention rates. We have a fantastic team on the ground in Brazil composed of doctors, nurses, patient advocates, and administrative staff in our Zerenia™ Rio clinic that will elevate our patient-first model to new levels.
“Khiron’s Zerenia Rio clinic in Brazil will also allow us to continue to generate more patient-based evidence on the pharmacoeconomic benefits of our Khiron-branded medical cannabis products, and through this data, Khiron could eventually be able to provide insurance benefits for patients as we have done in Colombia.”
- Curaleaf partnership to build platform for German recreational market
- Tenacious Labs acquires CBD pet company Rover’s Wellness
- Khiron announces opening of first Zerenia medical cannabis clinic in Brazil
- MGC Pharma receives first tranche of funding under new $10m financing facility
- Akanda and Cansativa to supply German patients with cannabis flower