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How teenage adventure sparked CBD empire

Paul Shrive can trace his journey with cannabis back to when he was 15 years old…

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Paul Shrive can trace his journey with cannabis back to when he was 15 years old, when he went to Nairobi, Africa to help out with his dad’s work as an engineer.

They lived with locals for a year, and this is when Paul first came across hemp.

“It was everywhere – locals used it for everything; for food, to build homes, for medicine, clothes, even soap – and I was enlightened,” he says.

Paul says he became ill and locals gave him a tincture containing hemp that made him feel better.

But his dad warned him it was illegal in the UK, so he put it to the back of his mind for a while.

When the government decided in 2016 that CBD was classified as a food product, he decided to start researching hemp and CBD, and learning about growing medical cannabis and applying it to medicines – which, he says, he can’t do in the UK yet, but says he’s learning for the future.

“I used myself as a guinea pig for two years,” Paul says.

Around the same time, his wife Sonia Shrive started using CBD, and together, their interest soon evolved to launching a business out of CBD.

They spent a year researching, and in the meantime, also saw the effects of CBD on their own family members.

First, they started Paul’s mum on a light tincture when her health deteriorated, over a six-month period.

“It got to the point where something changed,” he says. “It took a long time to get there, but for the first time she got a full night’s sleep, her hair, which had started falling out, grew back, and her complexion was fresher. She said she felt like she had a second chance at life.”

Not long after, Sonia’s dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“He’s been on CBD for three years, now. We expected his Alzheimer’s to kick in by now, but when he went for his last memory review test, they said he’d actually improved.”

Sonia then recommended CBD to her mum, who was on strong medication for a mental health condition, and has been diagnosed with heart issues. Sonia says her mum was swapped cigarettes for vape, which helped her quit.

After their research and series of events with family members, Sonia and Paul decided it was time to start their business, Leafline, based near Preston in the north west of England.

They decided to manufacture CBD tinctures. Then, they quickly decided to expand with a skincare range, with products based on whole plant CBD oil, derived from organically grown USA hemp.

“It’s a powerhouse of ingredients in a bottle,” Paul says.

First, they worked on the formulation, speaking with a bioscience lab, and ensuring their products were all natural and vegan, they say.

They get everything independently tested in a lab, and ensure all lab reports are available to read on their website.

It’s been a slow process – Sonia and Paul don’t have a team working for them so do everything themselves – but they say lockdown gave them some time to focus on getting their products to market.

Now, the couple say, they look forward to expanding their product range as the business continues to grow – hopefully, they say, alongside improving attitudes around hemp and cannabidiols, and clearer regulations.

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