In a campaign of mass civil disobedience, a UK producer of hemp is calling for farmers to take direct action against the country’s “unfair licensing regime” by growing hemp without a licence.
Industrial hemp producer, Hempen, is calling for farmers to grow hemp without a licence in protest against the UK’s hemp licensing regime after its latest application to grow the crop was rejected, despite following all UK Home Office guidance.
Hempen, which was founded in 2015 by activists who saw hemp’s potential to help people, community and the planet, was previously forced to destroy £200,000 of its hemp crop in 2019 when the Home Office said the producer could not harvest the flower for CBD or oil.
An “unfair licensing regime”
Hempen is encouraging small and large cultivators to grow the crop without a licence as licence applications, which are granted by the Home Office, can be refused for simple issues such as the farm being near a road or public footpath, and that decisions on applications are often made too late for farmers to get crop into their fields – making it a risky option to pursue.
Hempen’s co-founder, Patrick Gillett, said: “The UK’s unfair licensing regime has no obvious public benefit and is stifling this emergent green industry at a time when the UK desperately needs jobs which care for our communities and the planet.”
A recent paper on the Medical Cannabis and CBD market, published by Maple Tree Consultants and Mackrell.Solicitors, calls on policymakers to ‘make meaningful, progressive changes to the outdated laws and regulations hindering the industry’, and highlights that the industry could ‘create tens of thousands of jobs, and bring much needed capital to the country’.
Hempen pointed out that, although UK consumers are some of the biggest consumers of hemp and CBD in the world, most of the country’s products are imported from Europe, North America or China, and that British farmers are being penalised by their own government.
It has also highlighted that two years ago the United Nations (UN) ended the scheduling of industrial hemp as an internationally controlled substance and that, under the UN’s 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics, the whole plant is fully exempt from all the provisions when used for “industrial” and/or “horticultural” purposes. The UK is a signatory of this convention and yet still classifies industrial hemp as illegal cannabis.
Gillett added: “If the government won’t get out of the way, then it’s time farmers take direct action to grow this wonder plant without their permission.
“Hempen needs a bigger supply of organic hemp than we can currently source from farmers who have managed to jump through all the government hoops. There is more demand for organic UK hemp than the Home Office has licensed. When it comes to CBD in particular we’re forced to rely on imports.”
Swiss CBD investment company secures £26.23m funding
Pharma Tech Holding has obtained a capital commitment agreement from LDA Capital.
Pharma Tech Holding SA has secured a CHf30m (£26.23m) investment from global investment group LDA Capital Ltd – with expertise in cross-border transactions including the agriculture, Agri-tech, and CBD industries – which will support its portfolio investments.
Pharma Tech Holding SA invests in innovative businesses with high technological value and scalability potential, mainly in Switzerland and Europe, with a focus on the health-tech, agri-tech, and functional food.
The CHf30m investment from LDA Capital will allow the company to invest and support its portfolio company Blue Sky Swisse SA, which focuses on the extraction of natural active principles from vegetable matrices, vegetable waste, and renewable sources to deliver B2B products under the form of CBD oil, terpenes and waxes.
The factory, located in Biasca, will be built with state of art of extraction technology using supercritical CO2, and will be self-sufficient through the use of solar photovoltaic panels and district heating.
CEO at Pharma Tech Holding, Sabina Del Nigro, commented: “We’re thrilled with this partnership and are so glad that LDA Capital recognises the value of Pharma Tech Holding and its portfolio company, with the aim of creating one of the most innovative hubs for health-tech, agri-tech and functional food.”
Blue Sky Swisse will make high-quality CBD due to a proprietary extraction process, starting from the farming, performed under strict control and culminating with the immediate freezing of the flowers after harvest.
It will also sell “all natural” formulations to increase bioavailability and will invest in the agricultural raw material chain, as well as creating an aeroponic greenhouse in Ticino, to deliver a high-quality GMP pharmaceutical CBD oil.
LDA Capital agreed to commit an amount of up to CHf30m in cash within a maximum of three years. This Capital Commitment will be released based on drawdowns by Pharma Tech Holding, which Pharma Tech Holding has the right to exercise at its sole discretion.
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.
SEED Innovations ramps up investment in South West Brands
The company has now invested a total of £500,000 in South West Brands.
SEED Innovations has invested a further £50,000 in CBD company South West Brands Limited.
Focusing on making investments in the medical cannabis, health and wellness spaces, Guernsey-based SEED Innovations made its last investment in South West Brands of £150,000 in 2021, bringing its toady investment in South West Brands to £450,000.
South West Brands, which recently saw its Botanic Lab drinks and supplements added to the UK Food Standard Agency list of CBD products permitted to stay on sale in England and Wales, has recently had two of its products listed in major UK retailers.
Its LoveMeMeMe brand is now stocked in Asos and its FEWE brand will be stocked in Superdrug from September.
CEO of SEED, Ed McDermott, commented: “We have seen some considerable progress made by the team at South West Brands over recent weeks with the launch of their two brands for sale in to Superdrug stores and online at ASOS.
“The products have received a fantastic reception by consumers in what is fast becoming a burgeoning FemTech sector where South West Brands are leading the charge.
“Generating early revenues, with the products now increasingly available, we anticipate seeing a fast uptick in wholesale sales which will further lead to additional product development and hopefully support for the products availability outside of the UK.
“We are pleased to continue to support Rebekah Hall and her team as they build a credible, sustainable and scalable wellness business developing and commercialising their brands.”
CEO of South West Brands, Rebekah Hall, said: “The progress SWB has made in the short time since launch is just the beginning of where we believe our brands can reach. In particular, we are at an exciting juncture in the provision of female wellness solutions with increased awareness infiltrating mainstream audiences and building commercial traction with mainstream retailers.
“With further funding in place, including the support from SEED, we look ahead to continued growth in the UK as well as commercial opportunities in other markets, including the US. “
The investment is by way of a three year, 8 per cent Convertible Loan Note (CLN), and SEED has agreed to convert £50,000 of the 12 month, 8 per cent CLN subscribed for in July 2021 into this three year, 8 per cent CLN.