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Drug reform advocates must change to succeed, experts warn

A conversation between three leading drug policy experts has called for a new approach.



The pro-drug reform lobby must accept it has failed and change to push its agenda ahead, leading experts have warned.

Speaking at a Global Cannabis Intelligence event about the state of advocacy in the UK, three leading policy advocates set out how they think greater access can be achieved.

The discussion comes week after the 50-year anniversary of the passage of the The Misuse of Drugs Act.

Despite evidence the law has failed to reduced drug-related harm and several attempts to change it, the act still defines the UK’s approach to drugs.

Paul North, director at advocacy group Volteface, said campaigners need to be less ideological if it wants to avoid another 50 years of failure.

He said ‘activism is very limited because it relies on a central message and is tied to an ideology’ and that  ‘if someone can predict your position, you probably aren’t going to get people to agree with you’.

There has been an explosion of cannabis activism in the US in recent years.

Mr North added: “Extinction Rebellion is a good example of this – nearly everyone thinks climate change is bad but a lot of people don’t like them because they are so tied to an ideology, it creates a ‘them and us’ scenario.

“When a subject is moral like drug policy, that becomes a problem.”

He said activism has a role but advocates of drug reform must harness public relations effectively and be more inclusive.

North continued: “Drug reform debate must move beyond activism because, if we’re totally honest, drug reform [in the UK] in the past 50 years has been fairly abysmal, not a great deal has happened…the approach I take to that is, rather than being angrier and louder, we need to step back and as what we can do differently.”

He called on the drug reform movement to ‘be brave and do things a little differently’, adding: “When I came into this space I envisioned it being friendly and positive but it’s actually very turbulent and cliquey.

“The challenge is if you want to say something else or start a new narrative, it gets quite lively.”

His sentiments were echoed by David Badcock, CEO of Drug Science, who said an evidence-based approach was far more likely to make inroads with politicians and regulators.

He said: “It’s no good just attacking the whole time and telling people they are wrong and misinformed…it’s not something that makes a difference and changes thing.

“When you attack policymakers, they just dig in deeper. What we try and do is try and engage positively with policymakers who can make a difference.”

Amber Moore, senior researcher at the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, said: “The most important thing is talking to people who aren’t fully convinced and understand what their concerns are…that’s such an important part of it.

“It’s not always easy but I think the best way to do it is just listen to people.”

Politics & policy

NGOs call on INCB for transparency on cannabis initiative

Two letters have called for transparency and accountability on the INCB’s Cannabis Initiative Guidelines effort.



NGOs call on INCB for transparency on cannabis initiative

181 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have penned an open letter on the first anniversary of the UN cannabis vote raising concerns about international cannabis policy.

The letters raise concerns regarding how cannabis policy resulting from the down-grading of international cannabis prohibition is unfolding. The first letter has been addressed to INCB President, Jagjit Pavadi, and the second to UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is creating documentation inside the drug control system to facilitate worldwide medicinal cannabis trade and research. However, in a statement the NGO’s have said that: “The proposed global Cannabis Guidelines and the drafting process itself seem to contradict last year’s key scheduling vote by favouring an increase of restrictions.”

The letter highlights that the guidelines will orient and shape governments’ regulations, impacting the lives of many patients and farmers across the globe and undermining the work of doctors, health authorities, and many others.

The statement says: “INCB’s rogue initiative threatens trust in a functioning legal order affirmed on 2 December 2020. These letters spell out how we as civil society stakeholders want to help the INCB meet the challenges of our world. This is why we have compiled proposals inspired by successful working methods of the broader UN family. Our suggestions are summed up in six recommendations:

– Disclose INCB documentation like other similar UN bodies;

– Opt-in to the UN online documentation access and archival system;

– Extend the civil society consultations to all areas of work of the Board;

– Call for and collect written contributions from non-State actors;

– Allow NGOs and non-State actors to participate as observers in INCB meetings;

– Scale-up “country visits,” inspired in the human rights treaty bodies Annual Review Mechanism.

“Last year on this day, UN took the bold step of removing cannabis from the strictest Schedule of the 1961 narcotic drug Convention treaty, six decades after its placement, recognising the therapeutic value of this ancient medicinal plant and no longer considering it as “particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill effects.” The vote followed an independent scientific WHO assessment which reviewed evidence and multi-stakeholder testimonials from all corners of the world.

“Conversely, since 2020, INCB has been developing its Guidelines in complete opacity raising concerns about the legitimacy and scope of the process, a fuzzy mandate, and risks of conflicts of interest. While not binding, these Guidelines will impact and shape regulations of cultivation, trade, production, and use of a traditional, herbal medicine and a plant indigenous to many regions of the world. It risks becoming a standard, particularly among smaller nations with less capacity to establish their own regulations.

“Our organisations strive for global health, human rights, and sustainability. We recognise INCB’s importance in helping governments ensure access to and availability of controlled medicines for all patients in need but INCB alone can not shape the economic, social, environmental, and cultural future of our communities.”

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Markets and industry

Cannabis beverage market to reach £6.43bn by 2027

Fortune Business Insights says the market will grow at a CAGR of 50.9 per cent from 2020 to 2027.



Cannabis beverage market to reach £6.43bn by 2027

A new report has projected the cannabis beverage market to reach £6.43bn (USD$8521.6m) by 2027.

The report from Fortune Business Insights, which offers expert corporate analysis and data, has said the market is set to see increasing growth due to the surging popularity of the products. 

It noted that the online retail segment is set to dominate and that specialty stores would see greater sales if they display novel products online.

With consumer demand increasingly shifting toward chemical-free and natural trends and moving away from unhealthy consumption habits such as smoking, the report suggests consumers will increasingly move toward novel cannabis products like beverages. 

In particular, consumers in Europe and North America are rapidly inclining towards these trends, such as recognisable and herbal formulations, chemical-free, and all-natural cannabis beverages.

However, it highlights that governments of various countries are implementing stringent regulations on the distribution and manufacturing of such THC products – a factor that is likely to hamper the market’s growth in the near future.

Regionally, the sector is set to favour growth in North America, as, since the passing of the 2018 US Farm Bill, the demand for hemp-CBD has surged rapidly, according to the report. It also highlights that Latin America, Oceania, and Asia will exhibit slow growth because of the ban of cannabis beverages in these regions.

Recent developments have seen leading lifestyle brand, Tonino Lamborghini, move into the market through a licensing agreement with The Flora Growth Corp which will see the distribution of CBD beverages in North America and Columbia. Additionally, Canopy Growth Corp is planning to introduce a new range of cannabis beverages into the US to strengthen its position in the sector.

To read the report in full, please visit:

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Waitrose to stock Cannaray CBD Gummies

Cannaray has announced a partnership with Waitrose and Partners which will see them supply the chain’s 250 stores across the UK.



Waitrose to stock Cannaray CBD Gummies

Cannaray has been selected as the exclusive supplement supplier for Waitrose’s first steps into the market.

The partnership will see seven different Cannaray products including Cannaray CBD Day & Night Oil Drops, CBD Capsules and citrus-flavoured CBD Gummies in stores and online. The items will retail for between £18 to £36.

In a statement, Cannaray said: “Cannaray CBD was founded to make CBD easy and accessible for millions of new people, with a range of quality CBD products formulated to be effective and enjoyable to use, and all triple lab tested for purity.”

Tim Clarke, managing director, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Waitrose to introduce Cannaray CBD to their shoppers. CBD usage is rapidly growing across the UK and we are proud to be helping millions of Waitrose shoppers to try high-quality CBD as part of their regular wellness routine.”

The company launched one of the first CBD adverts on national television featuring their ambassador Claudia Winkleman encouraging people to ‘join the CBD revolution.’ They have continued to work with Winkleman who began using Cannaray products towards the end of 2020 to combat work and life pressures. 

She uses the capsules and the oils after her cousin recommended them during lockdown. 

Claudia said: “I’ve always wanted to lead a revolution and I’m delighted to be partnering with Cannaray CBD to lead the UK’s CBD revolution. I’ve become obsessed with CBD this year as it really helps me sleep and stay calm during bonkers days.”

Waitrose is not the only supermarket to stock Cannaray. Tesco already offers their muscle balm and creams along with Vitality CBD in store and online. Asda also stocks Cannaray offering a wide range of oils, capsules and gummies. 

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