The founding partner of new CBD brand NaturalWorks talks to Cannabis Health about an unexpected career change, discovering the power of nature and the importance of doing things ‘properly’.
Trained as an aeronautical engineer, Max Moldaschl could have been designing aeroplanes, but instead he’s engineering another high-flying opportunity, with the launch of his own CBD company.
After taking on the fast-paced world of finance after university, 13 years of high stress levels, and 12 hour days spent staring at screens were starting to take a toll.
Despite some initial scepticism he was persuaded to try CBD and became an instant fan.He was less of a fan, however of what he describes as the ‘Wild West’ marketplace, which had little consistency and a lack of regulation.
This led to a sudden career change and the first product from NaturalWorks, an organic, broad spectrum CBD oil grown, lab-tested and certified by experts in Switzerland is just the beginning of a journey driven by a love of the natural world that stems from growing up in his home country of Austria.
CH: You say you were unsure about CBD at first, what changed?
Max: Over the years I’ve had my share of ups and downs with work-related stress and just over a year ago a friend said, ‘you’ve got to try CBD’. I didn’t know much about the industry then and it sounded too good to be true.
A few months later I gave it a try and became an instant fan.What I like about it is that it sort of takes the edge off, but not in the way a glass of wine does, it’s a natural remedy.
It rebalances you, I sleep better and wake up feeling like I can take on the day better. Also, sitting at screens 12 hours a day, my back is constantly in varying degrees of pain and I found that CBD cream really helped that as well.
What were some of the problems you saw in the industry?
I felt that the marketplace wasn’t very transparent. Up until recently there was no real regulation, so it felt a bit like a Wild West. The pricing structures and labelling wasn’t consistent.
As a consumer I felt very confused and didn’t really know what to trust.
So why did you decide to branch out with your own brand?
The biggest reason we launched the brand is to do this ‘properly’, to educate the consumer on the benefits of CBD, to help them understand the products and ultimately share the many positive experiences you can have with them, while knowing that they’re doing something which is safe and legal.
Of course I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there is also tremendous opportunity here.
You can’t really find many industries which are growing so strongly and being at the infancy of it we have a chance to help shape it, which is another reason why I’m very excited about this career change.
What makes NaturalWorks different to other companies?
What we are trying to achieve is a first-class product, but at an affordable price. We’re in the process of building an online knowledge base – which covers anything from how CBD can help with stress to how to read lab reports – to help consumers navigate their own personal journey with CBD.
We lab test all our products at various stages of production and we are about to launch a batch tracker so people can scan a QR code on every product, which we hope will give consumers confidence in what they’re buying from us.
Why did you go for a Swiss-based product?
When we did our research we just felt that the best ones out there were Swiss-grown. I’m from Austria, a neighbouring country and both have a very strong sense of nature, of being in the mountains, which was the inspiration for the brand.
As a company, what impact do you think the FSA guidelines will have on the industry?
Max: We welcome the novel food regulations. I think it will help bring that transparency which I felt was lacking and will hopefully provide consumers with more confidence in the industry.
We have been lucky to be able to partner with a UK scientific advisory, because to educate people you have to have a backing in proper science and rigorous research.
What else can we expect from NaturalWorks in the future?
We have started working on a mindfulness app which will offer meditation techniques. Our tagline is ‘taking nature’ and a big part of that is finding what CBD can do for you and using it mindfully.
We’re also working on a cafe that will sell fresh juices, coffee and CBD-infused products, which again will be focused on being in touch with nature. Find out more at NaturalWorks.com
Italy classes CBD as a narcotic in ‘laughable’ move
CBD has been declared a narcotic under new regulations in Italy, with products banned from being sold by retailers.
Legislation from the Ministry of Health, published in Italy’s Official Gazette on Thursday 15 October states that CBD has been added to the country’s list of medicines.
It was followed by a separate order from Italy’s Customs and Monopoly Agency warning retailers not to sell flowers, oils, resins or other products containing substances extracted from hemp, according to Italian website fanpage.it.
The regulations appear to be in conflict with a recent order from the Agriculture Ministry in the country that listed hemp flowers for “extraction uses” as an agricultural product.
Experts in the UK have described the situation as ‘laughable’ and a ‘bureaucratic mess’.
Peter Reynolds, of CannaPro, the trade association for the UK’s cannabis, CBD and hemp businesses, told Cannabis Health: “Two departments in the Italian Government seem to be contradicting each other, it’s laughable really.
“The whole situation is a complete nightmare. This is what happens when a bunch of bureaucrats meddle in something that they don’t understand.”
The move comes amid uncertainty over the future of CBD in Europe, following a ‘preliminary conclusion’ issued earlier this year that the cannabinoid and other extracts from hemp flowers would be better regulated as narcotics under the UN’s Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
This would make it impossible for the market to exist in its current form and would be ‘devastating’ for the industry, according to Peter.
“It would completely devastate the industry. It would put thousands and thousands of people out of work, probably tens of thousands, as it would extend into all the eastern European states, where producing hemp for CBD is quite a big industry.
“I just cannot see how they could even conceive of doing it.”
Next month the European Court of Justice (CJEU) is expected to rule on whether restricting the sale of CBD products legally produced in other EU countries breaches the rules of the European single market, following the prosecution of French company, Kannavape for importing CBD products from the Czech Republic.
As CJEU rulings are binding on EU institutions as well as member states, a decision on whether CBD should be classed as a narcotic would have to be respected by the European Commission.
Peter, who expects the Kannavape case to be upheld, is hopeful that the whole thing will be resolved before the end of the year.
“The European Commission will have to back down and they’ll go back to novel food regulations,” he added.
“The whole thing should have been stopped a long time ago.”
Is CBD the new G&T?
In the current Covid climate people are reaching for the bottle – but it’s not necessarily about the booze.
Come 6pm, who doesn’t want to hear the ice clink against the sides of the glass?
Just like cocktails drunk as the sun dips below the horizon, the tonic fizzing to the surface and the garnish of orange marks a moment in time. It’s the feeling of relief at the end of the day, mixed with a touch of anticipation for the night that lies ahead.
For some nothing could take the place of the ecstasy of an eagerly anticipated gin and tonic as sliding down their throat.
But with one in five people in the UK now teetotal, many people are looking for something different.
Whether it’s in moments of stress or celebration, they want to replicate that experience without the added, often unwanted, effects that alcohol brings.
Craig Hutchison, founder of Ceder’s non-alcoholic gin and recently launched CBD Botanical Spirit, Maria and Craig’s, says booze-free options are becoming more popular across the board.
“We’re seeing popularity increasing across all demographics and age groups,” he says.
“A lot of people want to have these adult moments but we don’t want that alcoholic effect because we’ve got to go pick up the kids or to the gym, or we’ve got more emails to answer.”
He continues: “20 percent of people in the UK don’t drink alcohol at all, sometimes this is down to religious reasons, but more and more people are taking part in initiatives such as ‘Dry January’ or ‘Sober October’.
“It’s almost a bit rude now to have a dinner party without a non-alcoholic spirit, beer or sparkling wine.”
After a long career in the alcohol industry, Craig and wife Maria launched Ceder’s non-alcoholic gin in 2018 to give adults more alcohol-free options, away from the usual sparkling water and lemon or diet coke.
Now the couple have gone one further with a blend of premium CBD isolate, distilled sage, chamomile, juniper and orange blossom, alongside other natural botanicals for an extra special adult experience.
Each 500ml bottle contains 25mg of CBD, but with just 2.5mg per measurement, the focus is on enhancing an experience rather than boasting the highest concentration.
“An adult drink experience starts well before you actually make your drink,” says Craig.
“It starts when you first discover the brand and continues when you actually buy it to when you spend the time making yourself a great drink, to the benefits of having it and sharing it with others – it’s not all about the consumption moment.”
Craig continues: “We went for a very low dosage because it’s up to the individual to enjoy drink in the right way for them.
“The benefits depend on the person and how they feel at that moment.”
It comes as no surprise that the coronavirus pandemic has had people looking for a little more release from the stress and anxieties of everyday life.
A recent report from Prohibition Partners, the leading source for data on the global cannabis market, suggested that cannabis-based beverages have the potential to become a multi-billion dollar global industry within the next decade, particularly as we enter a post-coronavirus world.
Craig felt this was the perfect time to launch Maria and Craig’s.
“The brand is about giving you a sense of calm, taking away the stresses of life and there’s so much uncertainty and fear out there, we hope we can play a role in taking a little bit of the edge off,” he says.
Figures from the Global Drug Survey, published last month showed that almost half of Britons were drinking more during lockdown, reporting loneliness, depression and anxiety as the main factors. But a third of those asked also reported that alcohol made their mental health worse.
Craig would agree that alcohol may not be the best option for people in that situation.
“A lot of people are resorting to alcohol and self-medicating and it’s up to each individual to decide when they should or shouldn’t drink alcohol, but I would say that when you’re stressed and anxious, it’s not always the way to go.”
While some in the industry have suggested CBD beverages could help tackle the culture of alcohol abuse, Maria and Craig’s is more about providing people with an alternative option, explains Craig: “The consumption of alcohol is so much a part of society and it has been thousands and thousands of years, but we’ve kind of lost our way in terms of the overindulgence in it.
“There is a role to play for CBD products, but that’s not our reason for launching. We are not anti-alcohol, far from it, we are giving people another option.”
He adds: “That sunset moment has very little to do with the alcohol, it’s about that moment of relaxation, of connecting and sharing those 10 minutes with yourself or your loved ones.
We’ll drink to that.
‘Historic moment’ for cannabis thanks to Covid-19 boom
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has helped transform cannabis from taboo to table-talk, says one industry insider.
Several CBD companies have claimed they saw online sales soar as Covid-19 hit, but those in the industry believe the pandemic could be transforming attitudes towards cannabinoids on a much greater scale.
With lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures resulting in pub closures, but anxieties still running high, CBD products are becoming the go-to to help cope with challenging times.
This is according to John Ramsay (pictured), CEO of American brand Infinite CBD, which has reported a significant spike in interest in the industry since the virus arrived in the US.
John, who has several years of experience in the CBD and technology sectors, believes the increase in information available online has allowed people – some who may have previously opposed cannabis – to do their own research and in some cases has shifted opinions.
“This is a historic moment for cannabis in general,” he told Cannabis Health.
“The increase in the sales and consumption of cannabis and hemp-based products, is a great illustration of how cannabinoids have become one of the go-tos when looking for something to help us cope with hard times and difficult conditions.
“Cannabis and hemp are becoming common table talk. With more time on their hands than ever, people who were previously opposed or unsure if cannabis would be a good fit for them are doing research, reading reviews and giving it a chance for themselves.”
John continued: “This is great news for the future of the industry, as people who were previously just curious have flocked to cannabis and hemp products to help improve their quality of life, even through the most challenging of times.
“This is eye opening considering the go-to would normally have been alcohol.”
A US survey earlier this year found that more than a quarter of Americans were drinking less during the lockdown, with 33 percent of respondents saying the main reason was the closure of pubs and bars.
This can only be a good thing for the cannabis industry, says John.
“I believe the long term effects of Covid on the industry will be mostly positive.
“With countless people giving cannabinoids a chance for their first time, or making the switch from a more damaging coping method, COVID has helped cannabis begin the transition from being taboo to more common,” he said.
Covid has had downsides for all industries, including cannabis, with trade shows cancelled and bricks and mortar stores hit particularly hard during the depths of lockdown.
However, John believes businesses have been quick to respond and the shift to online purchasing means consumers have more options, forcing companies to step up their game.
He said: “Not only will consumers have access to an endless amount of products as well as hundreds of articles and reviews to research, but the competition within each industry will now push companies to provide better products at a fair price, faster than ever before; otherwise be left behind by the newly informed consumer.”
Several clinical studies are also ongoing in the States in order to inform new regulations for CBD brands.
Infinite is currently involved in research to measure the effects of CBD on the liver with prolonged daily consumption, the findings of which will help provide much-needed rules and reassurance for both companies and consumers.
“Many clinical studies are taking place right now to feed data back to the FDA so they can provide some more clear guidelines of use and marketability within the CBD industry,” added John.
“The rise in research can only stand to help the cannabis industry thrive.”
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