Flora Growth has received its Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) Certification, opening up the pathway for dry flower exports.
Outdoor cannabis cultivator and manufacturer, Flora Growth, received the GACP certification by the Control Union Medical Cannabis Standard (CUMCS) which will now allow for the export of its dry flower to international GMP active pharmaceutical ingredient producers or to markets where cannabis flower can be imported.
President and CEO of Flora Growth, Luis Merchan, commented: “The receipt of our GACP certification is a significant development for Flora as not only does it validate our ability to operate at internationally recognised quality, safety, and sustainability standards which trading partners and governments require from cultivators and processors if they would like to supply global cannabis markets, but it now allows us to begin executing commercial export activities relating to several LOI’s we signed for the sale and distribution of dry flower and derivative products to multiple international jurisdictions, including the EU, Australia, and Latin America, that were previously announced.
“Specifically in regards to the EU, we’re interested and already having discussions with groups in many markets including Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Poland, and Luxembourg to name a few.
“The next step for Flora is to receive initial lab results to ensure that the products we’ve cultivated and processed are within the specifications that our trading partners require. Once we have the Certificates of Analysis in hand and they’ve been accepted, we’ll begin preparing shipments to leave our facility en route for destinations around the world.
“The fulfillment of these orders will signify the first successful exportation of our dried flower products. Looking ahead, we’ll continue to enter into supply agreements with distributors situated in markets that permit dried flower importation, as well as with international GMP producers that can process our GACP medical-grade flower into pharmaceutical-grade cannabis derivatives.
“Flora previously announced that it made a strategic investment into European cannabis company, Hoshi International Inc., where we believe this strategic partnership will provide Flora with a manufacturing footprint in the EU that will allow us to build and distribute Flora-branded products to its customers in the EU, while also providing a port for the importation of compliant, high-quality, Colombian outdoor cannabis flower and derivatives.”
Flora is actively harvesting CBD cannabis with yields 40 to 60 per cent higher than originally anticipated and the team at Flora’s flagship cultivation and processing facility, Cosechemos, has maximized the cultivation potential provided by the local climate and infrastructure, achieving a production cost below $0.06 per gramme of dried flower.
“In advance of this milestone, our team has signed several LOI’s for the sale and distribution of dry flower and derivative products to several international jurisdictions, including the EU, Australia, and Latin America. We are now in the position to unlock the significant potential from Cosechemos as we continue building our global distribution network,” said Jason Warnock, Chief revenue officer of Flora Growth.
“Our team believes this certification demonstrates our ability to offer high-quality output, while also serving as an important precursor to GMP certification so that we can produce pharmaceutical-grade cannabis products and cannabinoid-based active pharmaceutical ingredients.”
Construction of Flora’s on-site extraction facility is set to begin operation on 15 November 2021 and the company has begun working with Hoshi International on the pre-audit process with Malta on gaining EU-GMP for the extraction facility.
Billy Hood CBD appeal reduces sentence to ten years
An appeal hearing has seen Billy Hood’s sentence for possessing CBD reduced to ten years.
Billy Hood – who was imprisoned for 25 years for trafficking, selling and possessing CBD earlier this year in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – has received a reduced sentence of ten years following an appeal.
The Abu Dhabi Courts have accepted that 25-year-old British national Billy Hood did not traffic or sell CBD vape oil that had been left in his car by a friend. Detained in Dubai has stated that the court accepts that he “unintentionally possessed” the CBD, but have sentenced Hood to a decade behind bars, despite new legislation eliminating prison sentences for foreigners found in possession and allowing for deportation instead.
The recent UAE announcement that it will be relaxing drug laws for travellers caught with cannabis products in the country would see the products destroyed instead of imprisoning individuals.
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, who is lobbying for Hood’s release, commented: “The UAE has just claimed they will eliminate prison sentences for foreigners found to be in possession of THC products, opting for deportation instead, but this law does not come into effect until January 2022 and may not apply retroactively.
“Dubai police were extremely negligent when they charged Billy Hood with trafficking and selling the two mini bottles of CBD vape oil found in his car. They turned what would have been a small possession case at worst into a federal case that has seen him locked up for almost a year and facing a life sentence in Abu Dhabi.
“There was no evidence whatsoever of trafficking and none of selling. Dubai’s overzealous prosecution has ruined this young man’s life and put him and his family through hell. Billy was forced to confess to federal crimes with promises of his imminent release. He was given both a carrot and a stick, so some prosecutor could get his dues. It’s all too familiar a story.”
“It’s very confusing,” Hood’s mother Breda Hood told Detained in Dubai. “How can this have escalated as far as it has? I tried not to get my hopes up for today as I knew something like this might happen, but I now have to face the possibility that I may not see my son before Christmas and words cannot express how broken I am feeling.”
Detained in Dubai stated that Billy’s father Alex Hood has been outraged by the lack of intervention coming from the British government: “The Brits have developed strong ties with the UAE so why aren’t they using their relationship to help people like Billy?
“This should be on the top of their list. Our son is not interested in drugs at all, not consuming, selling or trafficking. It wasn’t his fault at all that his friend left the vape bottles in his car. Why should he be punished for someone else’s actions?
“All of his tests came back negative and there is zero evidence of selling or trafficking. It’s like something out of a movie and I can barely cope with the frustration of not being able to help him. We are campaigning out here but he’s in there completely alone.”
The Foreign Office has submitted a clemency request for Billy’s release and a petition established by the family has attracted almost 160,000 signatures. In a statement to Cannabis Wealth yesterday, a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) spokesperson said: “We are giving consular support to a British man who has been imprisoned in the UAE. We are in contact with his family in the UK.”
“We pray every day for Billy’s release,” Hood’s brother Alexander told Detained in Dubai. “I spoke with Billy today and he sends lots of love to everyone supporting him. It’s been so hard on him. I can’t plead enough for the UAE to grant him clemency, give him his life back, please. The UAE has just promised to change their laws and we ask his highness to take this into consideration when reviewing our clemency application.”
Stirling highlights that ten years for “unintentional possession” of CBD vape oil is a grave injustice.
In a statement yesterday, Stirling commented: “We need MP’s to push a resolution for Billy’s family. The UAE is increasingly a strong ally to the UK and with that, comes an immense possibility for cooperation on issues of human rights. I will be speaking to Parliamentarians tomorrow and have no doubt Billy’s case will attract significant support.”
UAE eases drug laws for travellers, raising questions on Billy Hood case
The United Arab Emirates has announced that it will now destroy cannabis products rather than imprisoning individuals.
The news that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will relax cannabis drug laws has raised new questions about the case of a British national detained for possessing CBD products.
The UAE has said it will destroy products containing cannabis that have been brought into the country by foreign travellers, instead of imprisoning individuals, in what has been described as a “step in the right direction” by campaigners.
However, the development raises the question of the release of British national Billy Hood who was imprisoned for trafficking, selling and possessing CBD earlier this year.
Published in the country’s official gazette, the Associated Press (AP) has reported that the UAE has confirmed it will be relaxing its drug laws around cannabis. Travellers carrying cannabis products would normally face a four-year prison sentence if caught.
According to AP, the law change will see minimum sentences for first-time drug offenders of three months to two years, and convicts will be offered rehabilitation. It also reports that travellers caught with cannabis products are normally deported to their home countries following imprisonment, but that this decision will now be left to a judge.
A number of foreigners have been imprisoned by the UAE for what the country constitutes as crimes, including having prescription medicines.
The recent case of 24-year-old Billy Hood saw the British footballer sentenced to 25 years in prison in Dubai following the discovery of four bottles of CBD in his car.
Billy explained to the authorities that his friend from England must have left them there on the way to the airport following a visit and that he was not aware of the presence of the products.
At the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters, a urine sample was processed which was returned as negative and Billy was asked to sign a document in Arabic without an English translation, which Billy refused to do. After being sent back to a holding cell, Billy succumbed to the pressure and agreed to sign the document in Arabic, not knowing its content.
Radha Stirling, CEO of campaign group Detained in Dubai, which is working with Billy’s case, commented that: “Forced and coerced confessions are commonplace in Dubai.”
Billy’s brother Alexander is fighting for his freedom and the case has been appealed by Billy’s lawyers following allegations that Hood has been tortured after being moved to Al Sadr prison in Abu Dhabi and placed in solitary confinement in a cockroach-infested cell.
Billy’s mother has reported that he has been uncontactable since being moved to the prison.
Speaking to Cannabis Wealth on the new development to UAE drug laws, Stirling commented: “It’s pleasing to see the UAE is finally addressing draconian drug laws that have seen numerous foreigners locked up for arbitrary reasons like prescription medicine, residual THC in blood from hashish consumed overseas as well as simply knowing someone who has possessed small amounts of drugs.
“This is a step in the right direction and something we’ve pursued for almost 14 years. But what really needs to be focused on is forced confessions and wrongful prosecutions like we have seen in the case of Billy Hood whose appeal results are expected today.
“The changes in law have come after years of public outrage caused by the large number of wrongful arrests and prosecutions. We are pleased to see the UAE responding to calls for legislative change but the procedural issues will continue to cause unfair detentions.”
On 27 November, 2021, Billy’s family appeared at Dubai’s largest luxury property show in London to set off #FreeBilly balloons for his birthday.
“Billy’s mother Breda is frightened to get her hopes up for next week’s appeal results,” commented Stirling in a statement.
“It has been a most distressing time since Billy was moved to Abu Dhabi and put in isolation. The past year has been an absolute nightmare for the family and they are stressed out of their minds.
“Andy Neal went through the same thing. He was detained for a whole year before finally being exonerated. I don’t think anyone can imagine what that does to a person. The impact and trauma are ongoing and lead to broken families and damaged victims. The human toll of failing and corrupt police practices is extreme and a serious human rights issue.
“When UAE enterprise then comes to London to put on property shows and the like, offering free residency visas and 50 per cent mortgages, we have to understand that people will be lured into these offerings and are at risk of losing their investments as they have done systematically for over a decade, their freedom or like Lee Bradley Brown, their lives.
“There are thousands of foreigners who have been deceived by property developers often owned by the government and this deceit has resulted in their loss of funds and freedom as banks have jailed them for debt. Numerous British nationals are in Dubai right now, prisoners in the capital of fraud and money laundering. After being robbed by companies with deceptive trade practices and zero accountability, they are then held in the country until they can repay mortgages for homes that were never even finished. The catch is, their passports will be confiscated and their working permits cancelled at the same time. Foreigners have faced homelessness and become suicidal over this egregious situation.
“The [UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] FCDO has been criticised for its lack of sufficient travel warnings to the UAE and in fact, this very issue will be debated in Parliament shortly. For the time being, it’s important that those being lured into mortgages, debt and unfinished property developments are warned by rights groups of the risks they face in the Gulf. The best way to do that is to attend Dubai’s marketing events to warn citizens directly.”
A petition to release Hood from prison has so far received more than 100,000 signatures and is aiming to collect 150,000 signatures to become one of the most popular petitions in the history of Change.org.
An FCDO spokesperson said: “We are giving consular support to a British man who has been imprisoned in the UAE. We are in contact with his family in the UK.”
Shaquille O’Neal suing business partner over cannabis investment
The former NBA star is suing his business partner over allegedly squandering a cannabis investment.
Shaquille O’Neal is suing his business partner over allegedly squandering a $125k cannabis investment. The company has been identified as Viceroy LLC according to court documents.
The documents read: “By late 2017, Viceroy seemingly had no licenses, no revenue, and no operations, questions arose regarding defendants’ management of Viceroy and use of the invested funds.”
The suit was filed this week by O’Neal and a second investor, Jerome Crawford. Crawford has reportedly invested USD$50,000 into the company. Both men claimed they wanted to “to pursue opportunities in the field of legal cannabis.”
Documents report that O’Neal and Crawford asked to see the financial statements and mentioned the lack of progress in 2018. However, there was no response to the request. They also asked for a business plan along with other documents. The defendants are named Darron Campbell, his LLC along with 10 John Does.
When legal action was threatened, Campbell allegedly offered to buy back their shares and provide the interest. Campbell is thought to have only made one payment and still owes USD$130,000 along with 10 per cent missed interest.
A message from Campbell to O’Neal and Crawford’s lawyers was included with the filing: “At this point, I am willing to agree to personally purchase the units [owned by Plaintiffs] over a period of time. If acceptable, I would pay Mr Crawford and Mr O’Neal on the first day of each quarter, a minimum of $10,000 until paid in full.”
Repayment and damages
The plaintiffs have asked for more than USD$1m in repayment and damages.
Shaquille is an American former professional basketball player for the NBA who retired in 2011. He is now a sports analyst on the US television program Inside the NBA. It is estimated he made almost $300m over 19 seasons.