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Herbotany Health on how hemp could help with climate change.

“Hemp is a very sustainable and ecologically friendly plant. You cannot just leave the plant on its own as you have to do work to it in the process of farming to make it sustainable.”

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Biomass: A field of hemp crops

With the UK on strict targets for carbon production by 2030, could hemp provide a solution for both the economy and our climate change?

When it comes to sustainability, there is a lot the industry does right but there are still a lot of ways it could be improved. Cannabis Wealth speaks to Danny Purton, founder of Herbotany Health about how they have made a success of being environmentally friendly from seed to store.

Danny and Paul Bachelor founded the company in 2019. Herbotany Health is a sustainable hemp company based in the UK, with partnerships in the US. The two founders decided to enter the industry after meeting a mutual friend who used CBD.

“We had a mutual friend who had a military background and was struggling with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). He started using CBD because all of his medications weren’t working for him. In his words, it changed his life,” Danny said.

The co-founders decided they needed to get involved with CBD. Danny had a family member who was a farmer and Paul had ties to America which provided the perfect start to their business.

Hemp farming

Danny said: “My brother in law is a fourth-generation farmer who has just taken over the farm. He wanted to look at the next generation of farming and one of the things he was interested in was industrial hemp.

We set up Herbotany Health then applied for and obtained our home office license for growing industrial hemp. We’ve got 500 acres that we wanted to use as part of the regeneration of farm and also to make products with it.”

Danny and Paul decided to start retailing CBD but to do that, they needed to import it. Their US contacts helped them to establish a supply chain that was both functional and sustainable.

“Our supply chain in the US managed to repurpose a limestone cave. In effect, it was a limestone mine that they had managed to purchase and close off the front. They are growing our hemp clones in there because, in terms of temperature and humidity, it can be controlled very closely and is one of the best environments for hemp to grow.”

He added: “It’s great in terms of sustainability in that we repurposed something that was abandoned.”

Hemp is a very sustainable and carbon-neutral plant. The plants can actually absorb a huge amount of carbon while regenerating the soil. Hemp has been planted in some of the most polluted areas of the world including Chernobyl to help the soil gain nutrients.

Danny explained: “Hemp is a very sustainable and ecologically friendly plant. You cannot just leave the plant on its own as you have to do work to it in the process of farming to make it sustainable. As part of the organic process, we don’t use synthetic fertilisers or pesticides as the climate impact is incredibly bad. Hemp is a tough plant so can look after itself but with the help of organic tillage, it will grow great.”

Herbotany Health: A field of hemp plants

Hemp in Kentucky

The quality of the water in Kentucky was another huge draw when it came to settling up the farm. Danny highlighted that bourbon whiskey is made in Kentucky due to the purity of the water. The limestone creates water for the crops and also acts as a filter to eliminate elements such as iron.

He said: “The quality water is used for our organic hemp. It’s the start of the process as it regenerates the soil because it has long roots that can draw up any contaminants. If you have hemp on a particular field you can move that on and it’s much better to grow follow on crops of wheat or barley because the soil has been regenerated and the nutrients moved around.

Everyone says plant a tree at the moment because they take CO2 out of the atmosphere but not many people know hemp is actually twice as effective at sequestration of CO2. It’s a bit frustrating that in this country, more is not being made of this especially after COP26 and the UK governments commitment.”

Every part of Herbotany Health has been designed to be as sustainable as possible. This includes packaging which is an area where despite the industry being dependent on nature, can sometimes revolve around plastic.

Danny said: “One of our passions is the packaging. We use 80 per cent recycled pulp in our cardboard boxes and that’s the maximum you can have while still keeping the structure. They are 100 per cent recyclable and compostable. We also don’t use plastic for the bottles as all our tinctures are glass. One challenge for us at the moment is the rubber top of the tincture. This is one of our targets to switch to using ocean plastics or non-single use in our tinctures.”

He explained that the process is so much more than just organic hemp farming and recyclable packaging.

“We have organic hemp, we have the production facility which is as close to the farm as possible. Our facility uses geothermal energy so that we minimise our carbon footprint in terms of the manufacturing process. When people think about sustainability, it’s usually just about the carbon footprint but there are other things to consider like using the local workplace in improvised areas which we do as well.

Hemp for the future

One of our products uses a patented system that works by increasing bioavailability. It’s twice as effective which means that you have to use less of the product for the same effect. In terms of sustainability, these are all things we are thinking of throughout our supply chain.”

As well as all of this, the company also gives to charities such as ‘hemp for the future’ which helps to improve the education and knowledge around the plant. In 2020, they gave more than 3000 units of hemp-derived wellness and hygiene products to healthcare workers in America.

Danny believes that changing regulation around hemp farming in the UK is an easy win for the government. Especially considering the government commitment to reducing carbon by 2030.

“The government rules need to change. Hemp as a sustainable plant is an easy win in terms of the environment. It will add value to the economy. It can create jobs, tax returns that could be used. That tax could be used to fight climate change.”

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CBD sales and marketing gets creative for 2022

One brand even offers the chance to purchase real CBD products in a virtual world

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CBD marketing and sales: A trolley of CBD oil and flower

As Covid continues and CBD marketing remains tough, we examine the different ways companies are reaching out to consumers

CBD advertising and marketing can be exceptionally tricky for brands. As consumer awareness of CBD is growing, the changing landscape of Covid restrictions has increased the demand for contact-free sale solutions.

So how do you reach new consumers if social media isn’t on your side and mailouts may bounce into spam folders?

Brands have been embracing new, creative ideas for consumer shopping experiences. This has included entering digital spaces, making shopping into a game and delivering CBD via food apps.

Here are some of the ideas shaking up the high street for 2022

Deliveroo and Love Hemp

The CBD industry and delivery services have experienced a massive boom since the start of the pandemic in 2020. CBD sales rose while Deliveroo reported transaction volumes had increased on its app to £1.7bn in the second quarter of 2021.

It’s not the first time Deliveroo has sold products outside of food such as alcohol, vaping products and tobacco that are already available through the app. Although it is still advertised as a predominately food based service. This is the first time the app will sell CBD products.

The trial will only be available in the Croydon area of South London but if it proves successful then it may be extended across the UK. Love Hemp’s production facility is located there so products will be available within a six-kilometre radius.

Tony Calamita, the chief executive officer of Love Hemp Group said: “Not only does Deliveroo provide us with greater visibility with consumers, but it also provides us with a new dimension to our consumer access – on-demand delivery.”

“Deliveroo has over seven million pre-registered consumers across the UK who are increasingly looking to the app to fulfil their day-to-day needs, of which high-quality CBD products are now one. Our ambition is to launch nationwide and utilise Deliveroo as a major distribution channel for Love Hemp.”

Cannabis deliveries in the metaverse

The creation of NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) and the popularity of cryptocurrency have led to an interest in alternative worlds or metaverse experiences. Metaverse refers to a network of 3D virtual worlds that are focused on social connection. Brands have been slowly adapting to the idea of entering virtual worlds as a way to reach customers through gaming. Facebook has also announced plans to release its own metaverse this year.

US company Higher Life has launched a real-life CBD dispensary in the metaverse that offers a gamified shopping experience. Customers can guide a 3D model around the virtual shop, ask for information and explore. In the end, the experience culminates in a real CBD product being sent to your home.

The metaverse dispensary was launched on cryptovoxels which is powered by the Ethereum blockchain. Players can buy land and build stores and art galleries in the space.

US cannabis start-up, Kandy Girl has also opted to join a virtual world to sell their Delta-9 edibles. It had been in negotiations to advertise on over 100 locations in NFTPlazas but this did not go ahead. However, the brand opted to join Decentra Metaverse instead. The company plans to build a full dispensary as well as an art gallery where they can sell NFTs.

Cannabis airport sales

The rules and regulations around flying with CBD or medical cannabis can be really tricky. It often depends on the law of the country you are flying from, to or stopping over in. While this isn’t set to change any time soon, for those travelling through Canada, it could be slightly easier to purchase CBD.

Prince George’s airport reported that they have received an application for a business license from cannabis company Copilot. If this is approved then it would be the first cannabis shop based in an airport. Although, it may be a while before we see dispensaries in airports across the globe.

Copilot is a project aimed at making travel a less stressful experience by reducing anxiety or fear of flying.

The Prince George’s Airport (PGAA) authorities reported that they have received a business license application from the company Copilot to open a store later this year. If completed, it would be the first cannabis retail shop at an airport in the world.

PGAA CEO Gordon Duke said: “We are very pleased to welcome Copilot if they receive a business license and provincial approval. City Council is expected to give their business license application the first reading on January 10. Copilot has satisfied regulatory requirements from both Transport Canada and the Province of BC in advance of their meeting with the Council.

CBD vending machines

Covid has accelerated the need for contact-less sales for brands. However, when it comes to buying CBD, customers still need a lot of education or information around what they are purchasing.

A vending machine may not seem like the best place to go for canna-education or products but they have been growing in popularity. A number of brands have installed vending machines for CBD in shopping centres or stores towards the end of 2021.

Cannaboxx is just one example of how brands have been encouraged to embrace alternative ways of reaching new consumers. The boxes can be placed in many different locations but the brand highlights that it can be another option for stores with a lot of footfall.

Owner Andre Addison refers to the kiosks as a “dispensary in a box.”

CBD on a mountain

CBD company, Charlotte’s Web went one step further by placing a CBD vending machine on the top of a mountain in Utah. It dispenses the companies balms for athletes who may be hiking with sore muscles. It sits on top of a sandstone slab that rises 400 feet above Moab, Utah.

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The high court: the battle continues for the CBD industry in Ireland

Following a series of raids, product seizures and court battles, what exactly is going on with the Irish CBD market?

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Thailand: A collection of CBD oil in bottles and CBD flower

As several high-profile cases over THC content are set to take place in Ireland this year, we speak to three store owners about their experiences.

It’s been a difficult time for CBD stores in Ireland. While there have been issues with stock shortages, Brexit regulations and COVID restrictions, CBD sellers have had the added problem of raids by the Irish gardaí. 

Several stores across the country have reported gardaí entering their premises or homes to search for cannabis before seizing CBD products instead. The products are sent for testing and often not seen again. But as Ireland is in Europe, and these products are therefore under the European THC limits, so why is this happening? 

Cannabis Wealth speaks to three CBD stores across Ireland to ask, what’s going on. 

Little Collins: A photo of the front of the Galway store that sells CBD products in Ireland

Little Collins

Little Collins is one of the most well known CBD stores in Ireland. Originally located in Galway, the store can now be found in Dublin and Kilkenny too. The store sells a variety of CBD flower, balms, pet products and topicals. 

The store, owned by JP O’Brien and his wife, Ide Clancy was one of the first to draw attention to the raids in 2020 with a series of social media posts. They received a huge amount of support following the raids that saw several gardaí enter their premises in Kilkenny before seizing products. 

The Kilkenny store was then raided in 2021 by the Gardaí who seized over €10,000 of raw hemp, infused oils, butter and tea products. 

Speaking with Cannabis Wealth, Ferdia Mooney from Little Collins said: “It started about a year after we opened when we just had the Galway cafe and office. There was a lot of CBD flower coming in. Sometimes things aren’t packaged properly because the suppliers can be used to sending them to parts of Europe where this is fine. So the documentation will be in the box, customs will open it and pass it through. However, that doesn’t happen here.”

He added: “We have a problem where we really have to stress to suppliers that things need to be triple-wrapped and packaged properly. We had one supplier who didn’t wrap properly and it was caught by customs immediately. That triggered the first raid.”

Although the raids have slowed down, Ferdia highlighted that the effect of the raids has been problems with stock. 

“The last raid we had was around this year. The frequency came in waves where we had a few months of being okay then there would be a raid, seizures than the same at a different premise. The knock-on effect is that we don’t have the products to sell so business is tougher. Between that and the rising price of fuel, it’s having an effect on our business. It seems they want to disrupt us as much as possible. 

He explained: “We got lucky in the sense that we built up this strong infrastructure already. So once the raids hit, we were ready. If my shop is raided in one location then I can send stock to another ready for the next day. It’s been difficult, but they chose the wrong company as we are very stubborn.”

Social media support has been vital for lifting staff morale and also, highlighting the issues the store owners are facing. 

“Customers are still coming by and going to the cafes, especially after there has been a raid. Social media support has gone through the roof. I think most customers understand what’s happening. It’s just so unjust as big stores aren’t being raided. Customers understand that this will affect everybody as they will just keep doing it and we will be left with just pharmaceutical companies which no one wants.”

The uncertainty around selling CBD in Ireland makes it difficult to make long term business decisions. Especially as Little Collins is still waiting on a court case that has been delayed more than once. 

Ferdia said: “It’s like a black cloud lingering over everything. We are pretty confident we are going to win but even if we don’t then it goes to the EU then it will be there. It’s just a matter of time. However, in the meantime, it affects simple things like tax. Do we pay tax for a year if we are going to be shut down in February? Do we sort phone plans for the year? It makes working life really difficult.” 

Releaf cafe

Mark Jenkins is the owner of Releaf Cafe in Dungarvan and Clonmel in Tipperary. He moved into the CBD industry after studying business in college and identifying that CBD sales were on the increase in Ireland. He has experienced a high amount of raids on both his business and his home.

Mark said: “We’ve had about ten raids now all together between the shops and our house. I’ve been getting blocked in on the roads too just so a Garda can say hello. It’s more intimidation. To tell someone to get out of the car to be searched because you own a CBD shop, to me is wrong.”

He added: “I go over to the UK to pick up stock a lot. I got pulled in by Irish customs the last time where they searched my van. They had no problem with it being CBD but it’s the local gardaí who do. It’s because they can’t differentiate between the two different products. It’s not easy as we have over €100,000 worth of products taken from us.”

“I’m actually suing the state to say what you are doing is illegal. I have experts coming from Sweden and the UK for the case where we have to prove that we are not guilty. We’ve done everything we can as a vendor but the court has to decide otherwise we are going to Europe. We know we are 100 per cent legal but is the Irish law that’s the problem.”

Mark highlighted that this could have a huge effect on the country in terms of upgrading facilities.

“We were in the district court trying to get our case held. They wouldn’t put the order in place so we are waiting for the high court. If the order had been put in place then a lot of cannabis cases in Ireland would have to be put on hold until mine is done as it shows the testing is inadequate. It could cost the state millions because they have to change the whole testing facilities.”

The effects of the raids are not just on stock or on time spent preparing for court cases. There has been a mental health cost.

Mark explained: “They came into the house then the last time, they took me down to the garda station just to hold me in a cell. They weren’t even doing any questions that night but it was just to rattle me another bit.”

Ireland CBD: The front of Denise Lynch's store in Cavan

D’Hemp Shop

D’Hemp shop in Cavan is also challenging the high court in Ireland about the raids. Denise Lynch was raided in September 2021 where several products were seized. As with Little Collins and ReLeaf, all products were legally sourced. Her home and car were also searched.

Denise decided to open her store after she experienced the benefits of CBD for her arthritis pain. Although she had heard about the controversy in Ireland surrounding the 0.2 per cent THC levels and the seizures, she didn’t expect to be raided. She was surprised to be handed a notice to say the premises was being searched under the misuse of drugs act 1977.

Denise said: “They raided my home and my car on the street. They were here for five hours and this is a small business. They were in my home for a long time while my husband was working, my kids were at school and I was here. So there was no one home at the time.”

“It was frustrating because we weren’t doing anything wrong yet we were treated like criminals. It was upsetting for that reason. It’s a small town so people are thinking, well if the gardaí are there then she must be doing something illegal. It brought a bad atmosphere to the place and that’s one of the main reasons I am fighting this. I want to clear my name because we are doing nothing illegal.”

Since news of her legal battle broke, Denise has received an overwhelming level of support from customers and other CBD sellers. She hadn’t properly realised the scale and potential of the case until she was contacted by so many people.

“I’ve been getting so many emails, messages and phone calls from people I don’t even know. They have been so supportive and want me to do well. Other stores have given me a message of support through social media. Some of the other companies have their own battles going on and they are really good people who genuinely want to help others. It’s been really tough on everyone including the farmers.”

When it comes to change, Denise highlighted that what is needed, is clarity.

“It was said to me that I could be prosecuted over this as the products were sent for analysis with under 0.2 per cent THC. I raised it to the garda that in the EU, I am allowed to sell that amount. His reply was that, well, you’re in Ireland.”

She added: “We are part of the EU. This needs to be sorted and we need to realise we have rights as EU citizens. What we need is clarity from the government. We need to know that they are going to stop coming into companies using the misuse of drugs act.”

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Linneo Health explores trends in medical cannabis

Linneo Health CEO shares his thoughts on future trends in the cannabis industry.

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Linneo Health explores trends in medical cannabis

CEO of Linneo Health, Don Bellamy, spoke to Cannabis Wealth about the company’s unique capabilities and future trends in the industry.

Spain-based Linneo Health, which is focused on the research, manufacture and supply of medical cannabis flowers and extracts, recently had its Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certification renewed. 

The renewal development will allow Linneo to continue with its research into medical cannabis along with the cultivation and supply of flowers and extracts to pharmaceutical partners.

Linneo’s has a heritage of pharmaceutical expertise, with 90 years of experience operating in the narcotics industry. Its pivot into the medical cannabis industry means it is able to create premium, medical-grade cannabis extracts from its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility based in Murcia, Southern Spain – removing the need for outsourcing. 

“We consider ourselves to be the leading, vertically integrated supplier of primary materials to the cannabis industry. We do everything from cultivation to processing to extraction, and we supply to the specifications of customers strictly for the medical sector in regulated countries,” said Bellamy.

“We have EU GMP certified manufacturing, and we supply cannabis flowers, extracts and products to our partners. We have four hectares – 40,000 square metres – of greenhouse GMP processing capabilities, as well as extraction facilities, and feel that we are the ideal partner for the medical cannabis business.

“There are all sorts of different licenses and we pretty much have them all, including GACP certification for cultivation, GMP processing certification for the finished flower product that we make and we have now we have been certified for good laboratory practices. 

“Inside our facilities, we have a state-of-the-art laboratory where we are able to do, in-house, all of the analysis verifications that are required to certify our product as EU GMP compliant, and compliant for many other geographies around the world. EU regulations are strict, but actually, some countries around the world ask you to test for certain things that the EU doesn’t ask us for – like certain pesticides.”

Advanced flower capabilities 

Linneo has its own database of genetic material which it uses and makes available to its clients around the world.

Through this capability, clients have the option to purchase one of Linneo’s varieties of cannabis which is already available on the market, or, to work with the company to create varieties that are not on the market. 

“We have the capability to cultivate and look after our client’s own genetic material as well. So, if they choose to do so, we are fully equipped to be able to receive the genetics and produce for them.

“I think that the ability to be able to do both of these things I think makes us unique.

“We are not aware of anybody who is a supplier of primary material. Our expertise is in production, processing and primary product packaging at this moment.”

Trends in the medical industry

Bellamy highlighted the increase in popularity of cannabis extracts, and that the company’s heritage means it can leverage chemical infrastructure to apply in the production of cannabis extracts.

Bellamy said: “Our extraction capabilities with our partner will allow us to be able to move forward from dried flowers into oils, which the market is moving to now. There is a lot of interest in extracts with a lot of different companies trying to set themselves up in extracts. 

“You can see, for customers, the obvious appeal of ingesting a medicine in a form which is much more normal and appears more like a controlled medical substance. In the UK market, for example, there is a bit of an issue at the moment with doctors not prescribing and I think that is a lot to do with not being comfortable prescribing cannabis flower and people smoking or vaping them.

“I feel most people trying to get into this business are discovering the high barriers of entry which exist to be able to set up to be able to do this properly. We speak to lots of people who say that they are into extracts or they can produce extracts, but in reality, are not able to produce. 

“The majority of these people at the moment are starting up their operations. We are able to leverage the chemical industrial heritage we have, using a lot of the expertise which has been accumulated over the past to produce a soon-to-be, we hope, GMP-certified extraction.

“I think it’s up to us to find ways to make medical cannabis treatment more normalised for patients and one of the ways to do it is through industrial extracts.”

Looking to Europe and the globe

Linneo supplies medical cannabis products to customers who act in geographies where regulation allows them to. It currently has a European base and a lot of its business is still European-focused, says Bellamy. 

“The fact that we are based in Europe provides us with a really powerful platform to be able to serve European markets. For example, Germany, the UK and beyond. But we don’t limit ourselves only to that. We have customers in Israel and we are looking to expand to the other markets which are in a position to take up.

“We don’t sell at all in our home market, as the market that we happen to operate in doesn’t have a medical cannabis law. So, as a result of that, we don’t supply to Spain – all of our product is exported. 

“Spain is one of those markets around the world that is reviewing what it is thinking on medical cannabis right now, and we would love to support not only the Spanish government but governments around the world to find a way to make these treatments available to patients. 

“At the moment, it’s a question of regulation. There is active debate in Spain, as there is in many other European markets. 

“We hope that they will reach the right decision for patients as it is about giving them a way to access quality medicine as patients in the UK, in Germany, in the Netherlands and Denmark, for example, are able to.”

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