The novel food process has been met with backlash from many in the industry, but others see it as a positive step for the sector, as the co-founder of FourfiveCBD tells Cannabis Health.
Twelve months after the announcement of the Novel Food applications, the FSA continues to face criticism, pleas and outright attack from the CBD sector.
Some advocates, including CannaPro’s Peter Reynolds, believes the regulations are “completely pointless” due to the lack of evidence that CBD has caused significant harm to people’s health.
Echoing this sentiment are many small businesses which feel “shut out” by larger corporations due to the high costs associated with the application process.
The FSA has also been criticised by advocates of full spectrum extracts, as many products of this type could be deemed illicit following the 31 March deadline.
However, not all CBD companies are against the push for tougher regulations. Once of these is FourfiveCBD. The co-founder of the London-based business, Dominic Day, sees the Novel Foods Applications as a positive step for the CBD sector.
According to the FSA, the primary aim of the process is to ensure that CBD products on the market are safe for consumption. As former professional rugby players, Day and his business partner George Kruis decided to venture into the CBD industry for this very reason.
Dissatisfied with the unregulated nature of the sector but impressed by the benefits of CBD for their health and training, the duo set out to build a brand that fellow athletes could trust.
“It comes back to the whole reason that George and I got into the industry,” Day says.
“We were using products because we found them so beneficial and helpful to us during our careers, but we were just a little bit worried about the products we were using. We weren’t 100 percent sure how they were being made and whether that was being audited.”
Dom believes that novel foods is an important step towards building consumer confidence in CBD and growing the industry.
“If we can get to a point after this where all brands that are left on the market are safe, regulated products, it can only be beneficial for the industry,” Day adds.
Although the supplement is completely legal, Day says nutritionists still worry about the lack of regulation in the CBD market and are often reluctant to advise athletes to use CBD for this reason.
“We are constantly talking to government bodies and nutritionists, but a common thing that [they] come back to us with is ‘this market is so unregulated, this a little bit of a wild west.
“The CBD market isn’t 100 percent sure what’s out there, so I fully believe it will be a positive step for CBD in sport.”
When the whispers of novel food regulations began to be heard in early 2020, FourfiveCBD were quick to react, investing “a lot of time and money” to ensure it had the evidence needed to pass the testing.
Although it wasn’t “plain sailing” for the company, FourfiveCBD submitted its dossier as soon as the FSA window opened.
“It was something that we as a brand made a conscious decision to try and get ahead of,” Day said.
“We spent a lot of time and a lot of money and made sure that we’re going to be able to keep selling products after March.
“We spent near on nine months aligning ourselves with the right suppliers, the right manufacturers, just to make sure that our dossier was well put together with all the evidence that needed all the stability testing.”
Although Day believes that the overall impact of novel foods will be positive for the sector, he acknowledges the panic and confusion that can be seen across the industry. This is especially felt by smaller businesses which are struggling to finance the application process which is reported to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“There are brands out there, [that] are really solid brands, but some might not be able to afford to do a novel foods application,” he says.
“It’s those people that I do really feel sorry for because they are doing things right, but they might get caught out in the long run.”
Day continues: “We are massive advocates in terms of growing the industry as a whole; we think the more consumers we can get, the better.
“Not necessarily using FourfiveCBD, using any product. The more people we can get through novel foods, the better. So hopefully, those brands can really jump in and get their dossiers together ahead of the March deadline.”
While many businesses are consumed by the novel foods applications, FourfiveCBD are already looking ahead to the rest of 2021.
The company recently launched a new line of non-CBD vitamins under the brand FourfiveNutrition and is solidifying its plans for expansion into the South African market in April.
Famous for its love of Rugby, Day and Kruis are drawing on their network of professional rugby players in South Africa to help promote the brand.
The company is also preparing to embark on a funding round in March or April.
Hoping to raise £500,000, Day says the company will use the funding to expand its team and invest in marketing and public awareness campaigns around the benefits of CBD.
Cannabliss to open brick and mortar dispensary
UK-based medical cannabis group, Cannabliss aims to help patients transition from the illicit market into the legal cannabis space.
Following a long, “drawn-out” application process, Cannabliss has secured a pharmacy licence for dispensing medical cannabis through its online platform.
Now, after handing out its first private prescription this month, the company has announced it will be opening a brick and mortar site in Preston in April 2021.
Set to open on 12 April, the store will sell legal, over-the-counter cannabis-based products and also offer advice and guidance to people who are seeking to secure a medical cannabis prescription.
Cannabliss was founded by Michael Dobson, who was involved in a legal battle for several years over the legality of cultivating cannabis plants. In a saga that climaxed with him taking the then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd to court, he fought for a judicial review of cannabis legislation.
Having spent many years involved with the illicit cannabis market, including a period behind bars for growing several of his own plants, Dobson is now on a mission to widen access to legal medical cannabis.
“The vast majority of people have very little understanding of the legal cannabis market,” he tells Cannabis Health.
“What we’re doing is effectively creating a concierge service in which we help guide [people] through the process of becoming a legalised cannabis patient.”
Cannabliss says it aims to build trust with its customers and establish itself as a “go-to” place for trusted information about the medical cannabis landscape.
Dobson explains: “Customers have the opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with somebody who specialises in this particular area, rather than it just being a vape shop or health food store that has added cannabis products to its already existing range.
“If we do have somebody coming in and asking about the process of getting access to medical cannabis, we can explain that to them.”
Currently, in the UK, there are qualifying conditions that must be met before being considered for cannabis-based treatment.
Although an estimated 1.4 million people consume cannabis for medicinal purposes, very few can access it via a prescription.
Dobson believes that there is a “great deal” of people that could meet the criteria for a medical cannabis prescription but have never considered it due to the cost and exclusivity of private healthcare.
He says Cannabliss will provide support to its customers if they choose to go through the official process.
“Even though the prices have dropped significantly over the past few years, we still think there’s going to be a hurdle to overcome in terms of breaking down that barrier; that stigma that is there for a lot of people,” he says.
The company is already putting plans in motion to expand into a franchise with two provisional stores set to open this summer in Leicester and Essex.
As part of this franchising effort, Cannabliss aims to provide opportunities for people who may have previously been involved with the illicit cannabis market.
Dobson believes that it is “morally right” to give people the chance to enter the burgeoning legal market.
“I always wanted to include as many people as possible within what we’re doing, and support people that have been in a similar position to myself,” Dobson adds.
“We will not discriminate on somebody because they maybe have a criminal history like myself.
“In actual fact, these people are actually the best people to have running our franchises because they’re so knowledgeable.”
Dobson also believes that this approach could help reduce the influence and scale of the illegal market.
“By removing people from the illegal market and bringing them into the legal market, you’re getting rid of the black market rather than putting something in place that’s in competition with it,” he says.
Looking ahead, Dobson says the company is feeling “very positive”. It has formed partnerships with suppliers in the UK and Europe, including a distribution agreement with Canopy Growth Corporation subsidiary, Storz and Bickel, for its range of medical-grade vaporisers.
“It’s going very well and we’re anticipating a lot of interest,” Dobson adds.
“Feedback that I’m getting from different people [in the sector] is that a lot of people are interested in what we’re doing, how we’ve got to where we’ve got to and, in particular, my backstory and how that fed into the whole ethos of what we’re trying to do.
“I feel very strongly that the UK is going to become a world leader in the legalised cannabis space over the next few years and I’m looking forward to playing my own small part in that.”
Twitter’s Katie Ford joins Fyllo to focus on cannabis sector
Tech and media leaders are shunning social media giants to bring their expertise to the cannabis industry.
Twitter’s former head of global brands, Katie Ford has announced she is joining cannabis marketing company Fyllo as chief operating officer.
Fyllo is working with major cannabis companies to enable them to advertise to mainstream consumers.
Ford was previously at Twitter where she served for the past two years as head of global brands and is one of the biggest names in digital media, with a career built at Fortune 100 media & technology companies at the intersection of data, marketing, and creativity.
She spent two plus decades at Publicis Media, rising to the rank of president where she was the Executive lead on P&G, Coca-Cola, USAA, and Kellogg’s accounts.
During her time at Publicis she was recognized by Ad Age as one of the “Women to Watch,” and by Campaign US, as a leading “Media Maven.”
From there she joined Amobee’s executive team as chief client officer, where she was integral in delivering two successful acquisitions within 18 months, along with achieving positive EBITDA with over $1billion in annual revenue.
The Fyllo Compliance Cloud is a suite of software and services built to overcome the complexities of highly regulated industries.
With 2021 shaping up to be a transformational year for cannabis, Fyllo now allows cannabis brands to market themselves at a scale that has never been possible for companies that operate in highly regulated industries.
Mainstream brands also seek out Fyllo’s Data Marketplace to target previously inaccessible cannabis and CBD consumers.
Ford was the first person to be appointed to Fyllo’s board of directors, a role she’s held since 2019.
“Katie has been an incredible partner since day one, always believing in the company and its mission,” said Chad Bronstein, founder and CEO of Fyllo.
“She was the first person to join our Board and has been instrumental in Fyllo’s creation, growth and development.”
Ford added: “Fyllo has built incredible products and proven their business model in a very short period of time.
“I look forward to being part of Fyllo’s success as we build breakthrough solutions for companies in highly regulated industries like cannabis, pharma, and alcohol.”
As COO, Ford will depart Fyllo’s board of directors to assume her new executive position.
Kanabo brings its unique VapePod to UK patients
Following its listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) cannabis company Kanabo is set to make its unique vaporiser available to UK patients.
A week after it became the second company to list on the LSE, Israeli firm Kanabo, has announced it will supply its medical-grade inhalation device, VapePod and a line of medicinal cannabis formulations in pods for the UK market.
The company has signed its first distribution agreement with the UK’s biggest cannabis clinic provider, LYPHE Group, which is part of Drug Science’s Project Twenty21.
Through this new agreement, Kanabo’s VapePod medicinal cannabis formula, will be made available to Project Twenty21 patients under LYPHE Group’s brand NOIDECS.
Kanabo seeks to provide an alternative solution to the smoking of medicinal cannabis flowers.
The VapePod will be the first product of its kind, a medical-grade handheld vaporiser with controlled metered dosage, made available to UK cannabis patients with a medical prescription.
It can administer an accurate, measured dose of cannabis extract, which the company hopes will improve patient access and boost trust amongst medical professionals.
The initial formula, which Astral Health will distribute under the name NOIDECS 400T, is based on the Israeli medical cannabis pharmacopoeia as a recommended ratio for pain management.
Kanabo and Astral Health will work closely to make the products available to patients over the coming months.
Avihu Tamir, Kanabo’s CEO commented: “We believe this new product will be revolutionary for medical cannabis patients who need immediate relief of pain, and will replace the smoking of cannabis flowers as a medical delivery method, which is one of Kanabo’s main targets.”
Project Twenty21 provides eligible patients with affordable medical cannabis treatment, monitored by Drug Science and aims to create the UK’s largest body of evidence for the effectiveness and tolerability of medical cannabis.
LYPHE Group announced its partnership with Project Twenty21 in December to bring a range of EU-GMP and equivalent GMP medicines to the UK.
LYPHE Group, which has more than 60 percent of the British patient market, recently entered into a supply partnership with Canadian manufacturer, Northern Green to bring a range of indoor grown flower-based products to the market.
Dean Friday, LYPHE’s CEO added: “We have seen the headlines, and we have witnessed the negative impact of opioids. Pain is not going to go away, so a more natural and caring approach to treating it must find centre stage. Thanks to our partnership with Kanabo we now have a metered dose NOIDECS product that can treat patients across the U.K. that suffer from chronic pain.”
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