LAST week the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for CBD Products called on the Government to establish a single ‘genuinely industry-representative’ body to guide the future framework of CBD in the UK.
This newly proposed entity would not only seek to bring together the views of over 700 businesses, representing 70% of the UK’s CBD industry, but address the ‘negative impact of current regulation and the difficulty of getting industry views… to Government’.
According to the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA), the proposals would have a ‘real impact’ on the progression of the sector, and ‘will mean the Government taking (the industry) seriously’ should they be adopted.
As the UK makes its first steps to becoming the first country to regulate the CBD market, the group hopes these new simplified, focused lines of communication will allow it to create a plan for a lucrative ‘long-term cannabis industry’ in the UK in partnership with the Government.
Co-chairs of the APPG for CBD Products, Crispin Blunt and Conservative life-peer Baroness Manzoor, penned a letter to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) George Freeman requesting an ‘urgent meeting’.
It suggested that the UK CBD industry was ‘greatly concerned’ about current regulation and its lack of meaningful input in having shaped it, adding that the inclusion of the industry’s views in future decisions will determine whether it has a ‘bright future’ or will be ‘destined for bankruptcy’.
It also included a number of recommendations from the APPG’s Secretariat Advisory Board (SAB), which includes a numerous major trade associations including the CTA, The Cannabis Industry Council, the European Industrial Hemp Association and Scottish Hemp Association alongside hundreds of active cannabis related businesses from across the UK.
Chief among these is the establishment of the aforementioned single point of contact between the industry and the Government, which would be coordinated by the SAB’s 701 members and chair of the secretariat Tenacious Labs.
In its letter detailing the recommendations of the SAB, Tenacious Labs’ CEO Nicholas Morland said: “An appropriate, transparent, genuinely industry-representative forum to work as a single point of formal contact with all of the necessarily interested parties is needed now.”
He added that this singular point of contact could subsequently be tasked with producing a ‘plan for the establishment of a timely and valuable new long-term premium Cannabis industry’.
Mr Morland told BusinessCann that as secretariat, he was ‘comfortable we can deliver proposals even if people disagree, because they’re happy it’s moving in the right direction’.
“Creating a single point of contact is critical for the CBD industry’s growth. It will allow companies and the wider sector to engage with the government more effectively and incite meaningful change via an agreed, open, transparent and inclusive process.
“The CBD industry’s growth forecast is often compared to that of Scotch Whisky, and improved dialogue with the Government will be instrumental in achieving and surpassing such long-term sustained growth. We believe it can genuinely lead to transformational change.”
The CTA’s Executive Director Sian Phillips added that this was about getting the Government to ‘open up a little bit more’ to industry expertise, and provide recommendations ‘in a language that they can understand’.
To ensure the CBD sector reaches its full potential, which both Mr Blunt and Mr Morland suggest could be larger than the £5.5bn Scottish Whisky industry and create tens of thousands of jobs across the British Isles, a number of issues need to be addressed.
More specifically, the group says a balanced and inclusive regulation process ‘regarding updating POCA (Proceeds of Crime Act), consumer protection, quality standards, appropriate definitions and limits, research and development, banking, agriculture, insurance, London Stock Exchange listings’ must be introduced.
Ms Phillips added that despite the UK having legalised medical cannabis in 2018, progress has been ‘stunted’, and that there was a ‘glass ceiling’ in large part due to the Government’s current regulatory system being based on the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
“It’s a legacy framework based on the Misuse of Drugs Act that is 50 years old. Even the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 are 20 years old, the research that has gone on in the past 20 and 50 years respectively is not represented”.
Not only is contemporary research not effectively represented, but current recommendations put to the Government by the ACMD have been criticised for failing to represent a broad enough segment of the industry.
Moving forward the SAB proposes that a consultation process with BEIS ‘built around the APPG secretariat’ should be held, to establish ‘terms of reference for the work required’ for completion on 21 July 2022.
Furthermore, the APPG will seek public evidence from a range of interested parties, including whole-plant, isolate, industrial and agricultural entities.
According to Mr Morland, who also acts as chair of the Jersey Cannabis Services Advisory Board, the Crown Dependency should be a particular point of focus for the group, as it has already spent building a framework and was ‘very close to a template’ that can be adopted across the UK.
He explained that the advisory board was now part of the governance structure in Jersey, which has already changed the Proceeds of Crime Act, put in dose limits, defined what is recreation and what is not, and moved who has to sign off export licences away from the police to ‘somebody who actually does this as a day job’.