The hemp industry has the potential to boost the economy, create jobs and tackle climate change – but we need to act fast, say those behind the first UK Hemp Manifesto.
Britain’s greatness was built on a thriving hemp industry. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, during the reigns of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I hemp was so valuable, it was illegal not to grow it – people even paid their taxes with it.
Now Britain is being left behind as the rest of the world cashes in on the hemp renaissance.
These are the views outlined in the UK’s first Hemp Manifesto, put together by experts in the field, including the British Hemp Alliance, Beyond Green and Unyte.
The document makes a compelling case for the as-yet untapped potential of hemp here on British soil. It is calling on the government to recognise and promote hemp as an essential environmental crop and to make the change in policy necessary for the industry to thrive.
The manifesto has been delivered to Number 10 and earlier this week campaigners spoke directly to Michael Gove – former environment secretary and self-proclaimed reformed environmentalist – to educate him on what hemp can do for the British climate.
“The hemp manifesto solves a lot of our UK issues right now,” said Beyond Green’s Sam Cannon, who co-authored the manifesto with the British Hemp Alliance.
“It will boost the economy, tackle green initiatives, create jobs and support the farming industry with a plant that is sustainable and not harmful.
“This has the potential to sort out issues that are directly affecting the people of this country. It’s mind-boggling why they haven’t moved on it already.”
The global hemp industry was worth USD 4.6 billion in 2019, and is expected to grow to USD 26.6 billion by 2025.
In 2018, China made almost $1.2 billion in hemp sales, followed by the US at $1 billion, and all of Europe at $980 million.
Here in the UK the hemp sector is still relatively non-existent.
The manifesto reports that whilst hemp cultivation is growing throughout Europe (33,000 hectares in 2016) the UK lags behind with barely 850 hectares.
“There are so many barriers to growth in the UK and while the rest of the world is opening up to hemp as agricultural crop and seeing a huge renaissance, we are still very far behind and missing out on a lucrative new industry,” said Rebekah Shaman, managing director of the British Hemp Alliance.
“We haven’t looked at hemp as an agricultural crop since 1993 when they gave out the first hemp licences.
“This is the first time there has been a manifesto that very clearly lays out what needs to happen.
“It is offering a new perspective of hemp as an essential agricultural and environmental crop for future generations.”
Under current legislation hemp is not considered an agricultural crop and farmers must apply for a licence from the Home Office. This requires every farmer to provide an enhanced DBS check and for every new field grown, a new licence has to be applied for.
These are then awarded in April, too late for hemp farmers to prepare for the seasonal crop.
In addition, while hemp is under the Home Office farmers are unable to access any funding or support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU).
The flower and leaf of the plant, which contain the cannabinoids, are then prohibited from being used, reducing any potential return they can make on it. This is despite the fact that CBD products can be legally imported into the UK – a market which is currently worth £300million and growing.
The manifesto calls for the Government to remove hemp as a controlled substance from the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, permitting the use of the whole plant and to remove all Home Office licencing restrictions.
It also advocates for the descheduling of all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, and seeds of the whole hemp plant, as long as those portions of the plant remain below the THC threshold.
“We’re asking the Government to recognise the importance of this crop in a post-Brexit, coronavirus landscape and remove those crippling barriers,” said Rebekah.
Sam, who alongside Rebekah led the Seed the Future campaign earlier this year to raise awareness of hemp, added: “We can import CBD products from other countries but farmers in the UK have to destroy the leaves. If they were allowed to use them it would become a viable crop for them because of the potential return that they can get on it.”
He continued: “Hemp will bring new innovation to farming, inspiring a new generation of young farmers to come through into a cool industry, that’s sustainable and can do so much good.”
Then there’s the small matter of the climate. The UK has signed up to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, pledging to become Net Zero by 2050. The manifesto highlights how hemp could have a huge role to play in helping reach those targets.
Growing four metres in just four months, hemp requires little or no pesticides and absorbs 15 tonnes of CO2 per hectare – 25 times that of the equivalent size rainforest.
Rebekah said: “The Government has signed up to these green initiatives and here is a crop that could potentially support them in meeting their targets and yet they’re not recognising that there’s a potential solution here.”
But we need to act fast. With the rest of the world already ploughing on with production, we risk becoming importers of hemp rather than producers, according to Rebekah.
“Five years down the line America and other countries will be so far in the innovation and manufacturing process that we won’t be able to catch up,” she said.
“This is about highlighting this is a profitable crop that everyone should be able to benefit from – the farmers, the rural economy and small businesses that want to sell products to feed their families.
“The hemp boat is in the port and if we don’t act now to remove the barriers it will be too late.”
The manifesto also asks that the Government dedicate a proportion of the green jobs plan, promised by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Green Jobs Summer 2020 Statement, to the hemp industry.
“The ideal scenario is that Gove comes back and organises a sit-down with the Prime Minister and says let’s stop mucking around,” added Sam.
“Let’s be the entrepreneurs that this country is thought to be. We should be allowed to drive this forward and let the hemp industry thrive.”
Meet the MEDA family: The smart way to drink
MEDA, the premium CBD functional wellness drink brand, founded by Adam Feldheim, has extended its range of products as part of an ambitious growth strategy.
The full range now incorporates NO-LO mixers and a new ready-to-pour vodka Espresso Medatini, as well as its original functional wellness drinks.
Feldheim, an entrepreneur with almost 20 years’ experience in corporate finance and global market research, discovered the benefits of CBD as part of a balanced lifestyle in his native California.
Identifying a gap in the market, pairing CBD with nootropics, adaptogens and other nutrients to promote wellness and wellbeing, MEDA was born in January 2019. In its first year of business MEDA has worked tirelessly to develop a premium lifestyle brand that provides targeted and game- changing wellness.
The CBD market, already mainstream in the USA, is currently valued at just over £325 million in the UK and predicted to increase to £1 billion by 2025.
The benefits of cannabinoids like CBD are extensive, with the primary function of supporting endocannabinoid health, helping those who consume it to achieve homeostasis.
MEDA has worked with Mary Biles and Clarsissa Lenherr, a respected CBD expert and leading nutritionist respectively, enabling the brand to be an informative voice in the emerging CBD and wellness space.
Focussing specifically on functionality and balance, each of its wellness drinks are made up of a unique set of ingredients
that are recognised for their functionalities. Examples of this include the use of Ashwagandha and Lemon balm in ‘Calm’, to help lower cortisol and reduce stress; In ‘Recover,’ Turmeric and Vitamin D are added to improve muscle recovery and aid immunity.
Balance is also at the heart of the new NO-LO range. When mixed with spirits, MEDA NO-LO drinks provide a conscious alternative to the high sugar and calorific mixers that are commonly used, as well as the combination of CBD and alcohol providing additional benefits. The MEDA NO- LO mixers can also be enjoyed on their own, as a non- alcoholic drink.
Pre-bottled with premium vodka and ready-to-drink, The Medatini represents a twist on London’s most popular cocktail yet contains only half the sugar and calories of a standard espresso martini.
Created by Feldheim in collaboration with Luís Simões, former Beverage Director at Annabel’s in Mayfair, it guarantees a perfect pour and can be served traditionally in a martini glass or, for the summer, over ice as a refreshing, caffeinated CBD cocktail. Currently the range is available online directly via MEDA and in retail stockists including Planet Organic, As Nature Intended, Revital and Daylesford Organic.
It is also served in some of London’s leading bars and restaurants including The Birley Group, The Ivy Collection, Chiltern Firehouse, The Arts Club, Park Chinois and Aqua Shard. The range is made in the UK and is vegan, with fully recyclable packaging.
An ambitious brand, led by Feldheim along with a team of seasoned advisors, MEDA is set for a pivotal year ahead with further product launches, lifestyle partnerships and collaborations to be announced.
The team also have plans to release Mixology Experience packages which customers will be able to order from the website for same day delivery in London and next day delivery across the UK, perfect for the boom in at-home entertaining.
These will include MEDA NO-LO mixers, alcohol spirits, and garnishes for you to create your very own bar experience at home.
To buy the Functional Wellness range, MEDA NO-LO or the Espresso Medatini, or for more information please visit: medahuman.com/shop @medahuman
Australia welcomes ruling on CBD products
Low-dose CBD products can go on sale over the counter in Australia from next year – but no smoking, vaping, topicals.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced its decision on Tuesday 9 September, to make registered low-dose CBD products available for sale in Australian pharmacies from next year, as a Schedule 3 drug.
The decision had no major changes from the initial proposal made in April 2020 and opens the door for companies to apply for registration of their applicable products to be available over the counter in late 2021-2022.
The new regulations will allow the sale of registered pure CBD products (with 2% or less other cannabinoids) to adults in packets containing up to 1,800mg of CBD. This is 30 days supply of the recommended maximum daily dose of 60mg.
The announcement limited the products available to oral, oral mucosal and sublingual formulations only, ruling out vaping or topical cream products.
There was also an additional requirement that products be packaged securely and advertising to the general public will not be allowed.
Australian medical cannabis market experts, FreshLeaf Analytics, welcomed the decision, managing director, Cassandra Hunt, commented: “This will be the biggest thing to happen in the industry since legalisation of medicinal cannabis. We expect it will result in more Australians benefiting from the healing properties of cannabis and will reduce the number of people seeking products through unregulated illicit channels. The next challenge will be getting products in the market as quickly and cost effectively as possible.”
There are currently 17 low-dose CBD products available via the SAS-B and Authorised Prescriber pathways in Australia, with CBD products currently making up about 40 percent of all medicinal cannabis prescriptions.
FreshLeaf expects the over-the-counter CBD market to grow rapidly and exceed $200 million of revenue.
“We believe low dose CBD will become the largest market in Australia for cannabis products, quickly generating revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars. There is a significant opportunity here for product companies to supply high quality, low cost medicine to pharmacies,” said Tim Drury, director of Southern Cannabis Holdings.
Pharmacists will still need to consult with consumers to ensure they are aware of potential drug-drug interactions as CBD can affect the way certain other medications are metabolised.
Dr Melissa Benson, advisory board member of Applied Cannabis Research said: “This is a win for supporting further clinical research in the area of low dose CBD medicines. It could also promote greater safety for patients if it leads to less use of illicit CBD products, which can expose patients to potential harms associated with unregulated products including contamination with heavy metals, pesticides and the like.”
However, Dr Mark Hardy, addiction specialist and CA Clinics medical advisory board member added: “This is a welcome move but it’s important to note that the effects of low-dose CBD may be negligible for many patients.
“Patients seeking treatment for chronic conditions that may benefit from medicinal cannabis may require higher dosages or other cannabinoids such as THC and should therefore consult their GP before taking these products, even in small amounts.”
The proposed implementation date has moved to 1 June 2021.
Home comforts – are CBD furnishings the next big thing?
The emerging market for CBD products offers major growth opportunities in the home furnishings industry, experts have said.
During Furniture Today’s Bedding Conference which was live streamed in the US, panelists introducing CBD products to the home furnishings marketplace, said they see the CBD category growing substantially in the years ahead.
Scott Carr, Malouf’s marketing director, said interest in CBD is on the upswing.
There are 6.4 million online searches for “CBD” or “cannabidiol” per month, and the US market for CBD products is projected to hit $20 billion by 2024. The global cannabis market is projected to be more than $40 billion by 2024, he said.
Malouf sees strong growth opportunities in the segment, which it entered earlier this year with a CBD pillow, offered with three options.
Susan Mathes, vice president of brand relations for Therapedic, the first Top 10 bedding producer to offer a CBD mattress line, also sees a major upside for the segment.
“Scientific studies show CBD benefits a number of conditions including pain, anxiety and sleep disorders,” she said.
“CBD products are gaining significant market share in all forms due to its benefits related to well-being.”
Mathes also said the category is a natural for bedding.
“With CBD being known to help with restlessness, calming and insomnia,” she said, “how could it not be good to put in a mattress?”
Therapedic’s b-calm mattress line features CBD infused in the quilt fabric and in a layer of graphite latex. It is available flat-packed or roll-packed, and offers several strong talking points for retail sales associates.
Mathes has a family tie to the CBD field: Her husband, Barry, is involved in the manufacture of personal care CBD products for consumer products customers, and his work gave her insight into the field.
Also participating in the panel discussion was Shane Mutter, CEO of Seed2System, a CBD supplier based in Colorado.
“We start with premium seeds and we farm using organic practices,” he said.
“Our vertical supply chain yields consistent results with sustainable and scalable growth.”
He said Seed2System boasts a full line of CBD products, including tinctures, topical salves, edible salves, and gummies and honey sticks, with products for the bath, body and men’s categories.
Prior to his time in the hemp industry, Mutter was president and CEO of his family’s 80-plus-year-old home furnishings business on the outskirts of the French Quarter of New Orleans, Doerr Furniture.
Mutter said CBD’s appeal is broad, noting that youths, adults and seniors all benefit from CBD products.
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