The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) CBD products report was produced in 2021, outlining recommendations to the UK Government on establishing guidelines for the CBD industry.
Previously, recommended limits were set at 0.2 or 0.3 per cent THC per serving of CBD. The new ACMD report set out increased guidelines, recommending that the dose of each controlled phytocannabinoid ‘should not exceed 50 micrograms per unit of consumption’.
The report was published by an ACMD-established working group that set out to examine the appropriate levels of THC in products as well as advise the government on establishing a legal framework for CBD products.
Whilst some industry members have welcomed the move, saying it is a step in the right direction, others have raised concerns that the regulations could destroy the UK consumer CBD market, and that collaboration is needed between industry and Government.
Concerns over recommendations
Edward Henry QC and Jade Proudman, founder of Savage Cabbage and official UK distributor of Charlotte’s Web CBD, suggest that some of the recommendations included in the report are “less than scientific”, and seem to be “so massively risk averse that the consumer CBD sector is at risk of being put out of business by them.”
Speaking to Cannabis Wealth, Proudman commented: “One of the key takeaways for me is that, with all respect to the persons involved in compiling the report, there is a distinct lack of understanding of how this works.
“If we look at it America and how they’ve adopted an industry that has created huge economic benefits in all parts of society, then surely post-Brexit Britain, we should be looking at all the ways possible to create economy, support people and create jobs, and support people’s general health and wellness.
“I think that by looking at the ACMD report, I’m not sure they fully understand the potential huge negative ramifications if that were to be adopted. That’s a distinct concern for everybody in the industry. It would button up and kill the entire industry and we wouldn’t have a CBD industry. I think that that would be foolish for us for many reasons.”
The ACMD report suggests that the amount of CBD and contained should be calculated by individual servings rather that using a recommended daily allowance (RDA).
In the Mountford Chambers blog, Henry and Proudman state: “Calculation by individual serving is impractical, and unenforceable. More importantly, there is real uncertainty as to what the weight of an individual serving might be, across different products, and the effect, depending upon bio availability, of the route of administration.
“All imponderables, requiring further consultation, creating further regulatory uncertainty, complexity, and delay.”
Proudman tells Cannabis Wealth that regulation is needed to ensure the safety and quality of products, but that adopting such recommendations could lead to a black market.
Proudman comments: “We’ve got a recommended daily allowance of CBD which is 70 milligrammes a day which is personally quite low, then it says we can have 50 micrograms of THC per serving.
“That means the entire industry has got to reformulate their products to make sure that ratio is presented.
“That makes it really novel because you’re having to break apart the plants and look isolated compounds to mix and that’s not what we want. We need the plant as mother nature intended – we need to set Mother Nature free.
Proudman continues: “The huge concern of mine is that if something like this be adopted, the immediate effect from is you have got a booming black market. Which completely goes against why we wanted to bring regulation in place in the first place because it was about keeping people safe and ensuring quality products were available.”
Henry and Proudman emphasise that CBD industry businesses have a huge role to play in sending a message to Government.
They state: “The industry ought to send a clear and unambiguous message back to Government: RDAs for CBD as an OTC [Over The Counter] preparation, with an acknowledgement that within such an RDA of CBD, an acceptable per cent of THC not to exceed a certain factor will inevitably be present.
“The amount of THC to be found within the RDA of CBD should (we suggest) not exceed 2.5 mg per day, which has been described as a ‘placebo’ level dose according to independent research commissioned by the European Industrial Hemp Association (‘EIHA’).”
“I think it over the last six years, what has happened is that we have gone through significant progress and evolution, and I think one new thing that is incredibly positive is that an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for CBD has been created,” says Proudman to Cannabis Wealth.
This APPG for CBD is chaired by MP Crispin Blunt and contains a secretariat including the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) and the Hemp Advisory Board of Scotland, which Proudman highlights is a positive sign of organisations coming together to get things right for the industry.
“This enables us to have a chain of communication directly up to ministers so we can start contributing towards the conversation in a very positive, very matter of fact way,” says Proudman. “I think that’s a very powerful tool to help us discuss and contribute towards the conversations moving forward.”
Proudman highlights that the Government also needs to take responsibility if the report is not properly considered.
“The immediate effects from that is a huge backlash, and then there is all of the people that use these products and enjoy these products searching for black market opportunities,” Proudman comments.
“We’re just asking for sensible numbers to be discussed to allow whole-plant hemp products to be available on the market like they are in many of the places in the world. What if somebody buys something on the black market because they cannot buy it legally, and they have a significant negative effect because there’s toxins in the product and it results in a traumatic event?
“That’s a distinct possibility.”
Proudman highlights that the, so far, two-year Novel Foods process has killed off numerous businesses in the industry who have not been able to afford to go through the application process.
Proudman says: “There’s a significant amount of companies that are no longer in existence because of the grey areas, the fears and the distinct amount of uncertainty there is around what’s going on.
“I do think we are very much in a position now whereby we’re starting to collaborate effectively. I’m hoping that it’s a positive catalyst for change, because it opens communication channels, and that’s something we’ve never really had properly before.”
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.
B3 Labs discusses the future of the consumer cannabis industry
CEO of UK-based B3 Labs, Marc Burbidge, speaks to Cannabis Wealth about the UK’s Novel Foods process and shares his outlook for the future of the consumer cannabis industry.
B3 Labs recently had 525 of its products included on the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) CBD Novel Foods list.
The country’s move to be one of the first in the world with a regulated CBD market has seen companies wishing to sell their CBD products having to submit Novel Foods applications to ensure all products that go on sale are safe for human consumption.
B3 Labs has described the publication of the list as a landmark moment for the UK cannabis market, providing greater transparency and assurance over CBD products for both consumers and retailers.
B3 was founded by ex-Asda store manager Marc Burbidge, who left over 15 years of experience in the traditional FMCG sector to move to the fast-growing cannabis market. Marc set up B3 after suffering from severe shoulder pain and realising the side effects that came from taking traditional pain medication.
Since founding B3, which is currently based in Manchester, Burbidge has turned the business into Europe’s leading CBD manufacturer and the first of its kind to become BRCGS certified, producing a range of white-labelled CBD oils and gummies and driving change in the market by providing consumers and brands with greater assurance and transparency over the safety, transparency and quality of its CBD products.
Novel Foods in the UK
Burbidge says that the UK’s Novel Foods process is a major positive step for the industry as a whole, giving more confidence to retailers to open up conversations with companies.
“As more and more data comes to pass moving over to the validation phase, this is only going to legitimise CBD as a product,” said Burbidge. “We’re seeing more and more adoption from consumers all around the world as it is now.”
Whilst consumers have been quick to take up CBD, said Burbidge, retailers have fallen behind and will now have to keep up with regulatory changes.
“I really sympathise with the regulators for what they’ve had to go through over the last year. Novel Foods as a process is very much ingredient-led, as opposed to finished product-led, and the UK has taken more of an approach of a finished product-led way of working, which has obviously created a number of challenges for brands.
“At the same time, those challenges – overcoming them, getting the list out there, seeing the number of products and brands that are now able to really push forward in terms of their plans – it’s a fantastic thing.”
This development has been positive for B3 Labs, Burbidge highlighted, which is the first CBD company in Europe to gain a BRCGS certification for finished products.
Burbidge commented: “We see novel foods as a regulatory hurdle that everybody needs to go through. It means an awful lot to get through that hurdle, especially the first stage, but there’s still a long way to go. Currently, it’s ultimately it’s a list – there’s no validation or authorization yet.
“For us, we focus on product safety and product quality. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll see more of a cannabis-related certification for everybody that won’t just encompass food but also the vape industry and the cosmetics industry, for example.
“Novel Foods really did change the mindset of people to legitimise CBD and that’s always been my mission – the legitimisation of CBD and cannabis as a widely consumed product. By having something like Novel Foods, by having a food certification and by businesses having to reach those quality standards, people believe in the product a lot more, whether it be the retailer or the consumer.
“Everybody talks about vertical integration in cannabis but vertical integration of regulatory steps and compliance in cannabis is equally as important.”
The future of the industry
The rise of the cannabis and CBD industry is harkening back to the days of herbal medicine, said Burbidge, who has been studying herbal medicine for many years.
However, Burbidge highlights that for the industry to progress, innovation is a key element, and Novel Foods may play a part in hampering this innovation.
“We’ve seen a tincture market has grown out of CBD, oil-based tinctures. It’s going back to making herbal medicine products and using dropper bottles in the early 1900s, which is great,” said Burbidge. “It’s really good to see that unique application from coming back and you’re seeing it more and more with other kinds of herbal wellness products that are coming out.
“We are seeing less innovation now because of Novel Foods because of what we are and aren’t allowed to do in terms of bringing new finished products onto the market. I think once we reach validation, and ultimately authorization of products, the product categories will begin to change more.”
The market will move more towards products that are familiar to people such as tablets, lozenges and slow-release formulas, said Burbidge, with a focus on aspects such as bioavailability.
“Drinks have been a major growth sector, tinctures are another major growth sector and the biggest growth sector has probably been gummies as it is easy for people to use these.
“We need to get to full authorization of products before we can really start innovating new exciting products. But I do see that’s where it’ll eventually go.”
Whilst the UK has been very slow to adopt both medical and recreational cannabis, Burbidge says that as more patients find the benefit of using medicinal cannabis there will be more discussion around the benefits of CBD.
“I think we’re seeing more and more people – whether they’re taking certain pain relief medications that might be more addictive or costly – getting cannabis privately prescribed,” said Burbidge. “I think you’ll see people looking to get more medical products and this is similar to Novel Foods regarding generating data.”
Pointing to more mature medical and recreational markets such as Canada and Israel, Burbidge notes that the benefits of cannabis are becoming more evident through the reduction in the use of medications such as morphine.
“People seem to be getting more quality of life based on just the verbal data,” said Burbidge. “And it’s really good to see as far as recreational is concerned. I don’t think that’s anything close to an agenda point as yet for a discussion, but once the safety of cannabis is more established, and it’s used more as a medicinal product, I think I think we might get there.”
The future of B3 Labs: an engine room of innovation
B3 Labs has been focusing on compliance through the Novel Foods process, but the lab will be an “engine room of innovation”, said Burbidge, and the company will be focusing on areas outside of CBD as interest in herbal medicine rises.
“The reason that B3 was created was all around innovation. We’re looking at building partnerships with equally as compliant manufacturers as ourselves to widen our brand’s portfolios, building a wide network of companies that we can work with to develop and create amazing products for the future and eventually build an engine room of innovation with wonderful ideas, ways of working, methodologies and applications of products.
“CBD and cannabis are, and have always been, a huge part of my life. But there are so many other compounds that are out there which provide benefits to people. We’ve seen a huge rise in awareness of medicinal mushrooms, and there are so many plant extracts whether you look at Vedic medicine, Chinese medicine, African health.
“People looking at the nutrition and people are changing their diets. There is a realisation from people that good health is a combination of how you eat, how you sleep, how you live your life, how much stress you have, and then, having the right herbs and vitamins around that give you the most benefit.
“That’s where I see B3 focusing more and more on that rounded wellness for people – being able to support them with that and tying that in with innovation.”
- Curaleaf partnership to build platform for German recreational market
- Tenacious Labs acquires CBD pet company Rover’s Wellness
- Khiron announces opening of first Zerenia medical cannabis clinic in Brazil
- MGC Pharma receives first tranche of funding under new $10m financing facility
- Akanda and Cansativa to supply German patients with cannabis flower