CBD innovator Marc Burbidge speaks to Cannabis Wealth about his experience of entering the industry, using CBD for pain relief and his predictions for the industry in 2022.
B3 Labs is a premium white label CBD company in the UK that specialise in producing unique products for their clients. The company was started by Marc Burbidge who has over 12 years of experience in the cannabis sector. He developed a passion and deep knowledge about CBD after he struggled with a shoulder injury that meant he was using opioids to cope with the pain.
B3 recently became the first CBD product manufacturer in the UK and Europe to be awarded a Brand Reputation Compliance Global Standards (BRCGS) certification twice. The BRCGS certification was awarded to the company in October this year. It acts as the gold standard in food product manufacturing, including CBD.
Marc has personal experience of how cannabinoids may help with pain. He quickly recognised the potential of CBD, different strains and terpenes to benefit health. He used his experience as a starting point for learning more about the plant, strains and developing B3 Labs.
“When I was eighteen, my shoulder started to dislocate leading to an operation when I was 21. However, after that, it started to dislocate regularly even in my sleep. I would be given gas and air for a couple of hours or injected with morphine. I was also given propofol which is an anaesthetic.
“I was pumped full of painkillers like naproxen, morphine and all of these weird things. During the hardest moments in my life, that was happening twice a week. I was living off opioid painkillers while doing a very straining job as a store manager working 60 hours a week with two children at home.”
CBD, herbs and help
While Marc was a CBD consumer, he also relied on THC as well. He began to develop an interest in cannabis cultivation, genetics and strains. He wanted to develop high CBD cultivars which had enough THC in them to replace morphine in terms of pain relief.
He said: “Psychologically, they were causing me a lot of anxiety and depression at times especially the morphine. Opioids don’t agree with me in the slightest and I would feel absolutely awful. This was happening once or twice a week where I’m on a seesaw of opioids and drugs as well as having three operations in my late 20s. One of which was a full shoulder reconstruction.
“I studied herbal medicine which took me down the route where I made the decision to follow my dreams to study cannabis. That takes me to where I am now, making products with CBD and herbs.”
B3 Labs offer a comprehensive collection of products including their unique tincture blends. They offer a range of tinctures that utilise the benefits of different terpenes including myrcene, citral and limonene.
Marc also wanted to have more options than just cannabis flowers and smoking. He wanted to develop other mechanisms such as tinctures or vaping devices. Ultimately, he wanted to find a cleaner method of consuming either CBD or THC at the right ratio without the combustion element.
This led to his development of e-liquids, different types of distillate carts, types of emulsions and tinctures. He began building different terpene blends to go into products with various cannabinoid ratios for energy or relaxation.
“I was introduced to the managing director of a subsidiary of a pharmaceutical company looking to move into the CBD space. I built their CBD division from scratch doing research, development analytics, quality management and manufacturing for six months.”
CBD industry challenges
Marc felt the time and experience was valuable but it left him wanting to take on more of his own work. He began consulting for other companies before approaching investors to start building his own company.
While he had technical knowledge about the plant and the development of different products, the CBD space can be difficult to navigate. Regulations around different products or ingredients, marketing restrictions and the introduction of novel foods have made it an ever-changing challenge.
Marc said: “It’s been challenging for all of us in terms of building the knowledge, having good people around the company and the right team to get a good novel food strategy in place. The biggest challenge that we find is the delay in the release of the list because when you spent a lot of money on stability testing and regulatory work then it creates a cash void.
“You input a lot of time, energy and money into doing this where you hope your clients can trade freely. Many of the clients we work with have listings waiting to go live but the whole thing gets put on pause. Ultimately, you are running a business waiting for this moment in time to come but you don’t know when.”
The delay to the list going public has a further effect on business plans, forecasting and managing cash flows. All of which businesses have to juggle while waiting for confirmation. While most brands are very realistic about the need to have more regulations in place, they do have concerns about how it has been implemented and the delays.
Marc explained: “I am in support of what the FSA is doing around novel foods but I would like to see more understanding about full-spectrum products work and how people can benefit from these. How can we as a nation bring more legality to full-spectrum products because, in my experience, they benefit people more.”
There are more challenges for businesses than just the introduction of novel foods. COVID, lockdowns and Brexit have created an incredibly difficult environment for brands to navigate. While Marc acknowledges that COVID has been challenging due to staff shortages when you are running a manufacturing facility, he says investing in people can also be tough.
“Another challenge is building a business quickly with the right structure and way of working. You go from being a startup to a company that turns over a couple of million pounds by its second year of trading. That means you have to hire a lot of people who may not have the necessary skills or qualifications but you build or mould people into what you hope they can become.
“Growing this team together has been an absolute pleasure. My background in coaching and developing people was number one on my agenda at all times. I wanted to be able to carry that philosophy through. It’s challenging but also hugely rewarding.”
Marc is incredibly proud of his team and what he has achieved in the industry. He feels emotional at the thought of how he has built a brand from scratch when he was told at the beginning it wouldn’t work.
“Seeing the things I was so passionate about becoming a reality when almost every person I knew told me it wouldn’t work. There were challenges on the way but seeing it come to fruition and our clients using my products and selling to a broader range of consumers is incredible.”
He concluded: “When I stop to think about it, it takes me aback and makes me quite emotional.”
When it comes to industry trends for next year, Marc believes it will be the year where terpenes and blends become important, along with CBG.
“When I came into the industry, it was all about herbs, terpenes and different cannabinoids for me. When I spoke about this, people looked at me like I was a bit odd but this is exactly what’s happening now.
“Another key area will be the innovation in encapsulations, increased bioavailability and potentially more growth in the drinks. That’s where I see the industry wanting to go but whether the regulatory framework will allow it to go there is another question.”
Cannaray: “We aim to become the leading medical cannabis player in Europe”
Cannaray recently closed a £10 million funding round to expand its medical cannabis arm.
Cannabis Wealth caught up with Cannaray CEO Scott Macguire to hear about the company’s plans to expand its medical cannabis division following a £10 million funding round earlier this year.
In April this year, Cannaray closed a £10 million funding round that included a significant investment from Channel 4 Ventures. Cannaray believes the investment was a first of its kind in Europe for a major TV broadcaster.
“We were delighted to close on an amount above our initial targets, considering the difficult capital markets,” Cannaray CEO Scott Macguire told Cannabis Wealth.
“It was a great sign of confidence in the company to see existing investors come back in for this round as well as welcoming major new investors such as Channel 4 Ventures. TV advertising has taken Cannaray to new heights, so we’re thrilled to be able to partner with Channel 4 to continue to drive rapid growth of the brand.”
Other participants in the round include Three Bridges Private Capital, Alpha Blue Ocean and a mix of new and follow-on private investors.
Cannaray’s group of companies spans both medical cannabis and CBD wellness brands. Its CBD brand is already well-established in the UK. In the summer of 2021, Cannaray launched the UK’s first major brand campaign for CBD on TV. In addition to a high-performing B2C site, the brand is also stocked on Amazon and in over 1500 retail outlets across the UK including Tesco, Superdrug, ASDA, Waitrose and Harrods.
Now, the company is turning its focus to medical cannabis. The majority of the recent raise will be channelled into Cannaray’s medical division Therismos as it seeks to scale and expand its footprint in Germany and the UK.
“Our aim is to become the leading medical cannabis player in Europe,” Macguire said. “We have significantly strengthened our position over the last year to cover supply, distribution and prescription of cannabis-based medical products (CBMP) across Europe.”
In Germany, Cannaray recently embarked on a “transformational” partnership with Alliance Healthcare Deutschland – a division of Walgreens Boots Alliance – to help establish the brand’s presence in the German market.
The German federal government announced it would be putting plans in motion to legalise adult-use cannabis in November 2021. After a number of delays, Germany’s health minister Karl Lauterbach announced that the legal process for cannabis legalisation would begin this summer.
“[Germany] is the largest CBMP market in Europe and where AHG has a significant footprint,” Macguire added.
“Our medical cannabis division Therismos will be activating the partnership with AHG with the aim of becoming one of the leading providers of CBPM in a market growing at 13 per cent year-on-year.
“Our pipeline plans include product innovation, new presentations [and] galenic forms and novel technologies that will step change a market that is in its creation phase.”
Cannaray is also looking to tap into the medical cannabis sector in the UK. While only 30,000 patients have access to a medical cannabis prescription currently, there is huge potential for growth with an estimated 1.4 million people self-medicating with illicit cannabis, according to YouGov statistics.
The firm will soon be opening a medical cannabis clinic with the help of leading pain specialists in the UK.
“The UK is our second priority since this market represents the greatest growth opportunity in Europe,” Macguire said. “The UK is a small market relative to Germany and even smaller still when compared to North America.
“The prevailing challenge in the UK is the cost of the medication, as the NHS does not cover the cost of the medication. Estimates put the cost per patient per year at over £3,500. There will be a cap on the growth of CBPM in the UK until the NHS covers the cost and GPs are allowed to prescribe.
Macguire said Cannaray is now exploring additional acquisitions in its efforts to position the company as a leader in the European medical cannabis market.
Curaleaf appoints new chief people officer
Tyneeha Rivers will take on the role.
Curaleaf Holdings has appointed Tyneeha Rivers to the role of chief people officer (CPO) – a new position within the company.
Rivers will be taking on the role following the announcement of Matt Darin being named CEO. Darin will be replacing Joe Bayern, who will be launching a new CPG-focused division of the company.
CEO of Curaleaf, Darin, commented: “This is an incredibly exciting time for Tyneeha to join us and I am thrilled to welcome her to my executive leadership team.
“With over twenty years of global Human Resources expertise in senior positions for distinguished organisations, Tyneeha has a proven track record of building winning team cultures that positively impact business results.
“This is a critical focus for us at Curaleaf as we move the company forward. My goal is not only to be the leading global cannabis company, but also the place to be for the most talented, motivated, and passionate team members in the industry, bar none.”
Rivers will lead the Curaleaf’s Human Resources department and help advance strategic HR operations, talent acquisition, talent management, diversity, equity and inclusion, leadership development, training programmes, employee relationship management, compensation and benefits, job design and succession planning.
Rivers stated: “I am honoured to join the Curaleaf team at this exciting time in the company’s evolution and rapid growth.
“Curaleaf has established itself as a leader in the cannabis space, not just in revenue or retail footprint, but in talent and commitment. I look forward to partnering with the entire Curaleaf team to continue focusing on strategic HR operations and the investment in the Company’s people, without whom this exponential growth would not be possible.”
Rivers brings over 20 years of experience in corporate human resources, leading HR for various prominent organisations such as Merrill Lynch, Morgan Properties, The Galman Group, Philadelphia 76ers, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Greater Philadelphia YMCA, and most recently, CPO at Curio Wellness.
Rivers currently serves as board president of Second Chance Mission, an organisation established to help survivors of substance abuse, domestic violence, bullying, life-altering illness and other hardships.
Kendra Mark appointed as director of product at Tenacious Labs
Mark has a passion for health and wellness.
Kendra Mark is joining UK-based CBD company Tenacious Labs as its new director of product.
International consumer products group championing emerging plant-based ingredients, including CBD and Psilocybin, Tenacious Labs, has welcomed Mark to its team.
Mark joins Tenacious Labs with industry-leading expertise in new product development, significant experience in the CBD and hemp sector, and a passion for health and wellness.
COO of Tenacious Labs, Susie MacArthur, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Kendra to the Group. With considerable industry experience, both in senior leadership and new product development roles, her expertise will be invaluable as we look to scale up, launch our brands around the world, and become a leading consumer products group globally.
“We believe this is the start of a really exciting period for Tenacious Labs, and we’re pleased to have Kendra join us on our journey.”
Director of product at Tenacious Labs, Mark, commented: “I am hugely excited to join Tenacious Labs, a Group which I have admired for some time.
“Like me, the team have fantastic ambitions to create an industry-leading Group that harnesses the natural power of CBD and other emerging ingredients. I am looking forward to getting stuck in and doing what I love most: creating natural products that support the day-to-day wellbeing of consumers around the world.”
Mark most recently co-founded natureofthings, a wellness brand focusing on natural ingredients, minerals and elements, including hemp. She has also served as VP of product development at Hemp Depot, a specialist hemp wholesaler, and led 2Rise Naturals, a consumer brand specialising in high-quality CBD.
In her role at Tenacious Labs, Kendra will be responsible for creating unique and differentiated products across the Group’s portfolio of brands, such as Press Pause and HOO RAA.
Mark will also work closely with TL Manufacturing — Tenacious Labs’ wholly-owned production facility based out of Colorado, USA — to launch products in new and emerging categories. This will support the group’s broader strategic goal of becoming a leading consumer products group globally.
Kendra, who is based in Arizona, joins Tenacious Labs’ predominantly female management team, which includes its chief operations officer, Susie MacArthur; chief financial officer, Sally Hayes; and head of lifestyle brands, Dawn Fable, at the start of its next growth phase.
In addition to Mark’s role, the Group is also actively hiring for several new roles as it looks to scale up and launch its brands around the world.