A career in the cannabis sector was not something Michael Walker would have considered growing up in a strict catholic family in Canada. But witnessing the effects of cannabis-based oils for himself, he set out to help more people access this “life-changing” product.
Several years ago, Michael Walker returned from the UK to his home country of Canada to care for his sister, Chris, who was suffering from cancer. She had been transferred to a palliative care hospice and along with other members of his family, Michael came to provide “around the clock” care for his sister.
Michael took the 2am to 4am shift with Marie, the “hippie of the family”, who gave Chris a selection of drops and oils. Within days, Chris experienced a resurgence in her health.
The doctors noticed a regeneration of cells and a suppression of the cancer, but the reason for this remained unclear. It was only when Marie admitted she was giving her sister a THC and a CBD oil that the improvements to her health made sense.
Sadly, Chris passed away two weeks later, however the improvements in the final stages of her life made a profound impression on Michael and his family.
“Palliative care is all about easing the patient through,” Michael says.
“Chris was able to come off of a lot of the pain meds.
“Sadly, we did lose her a couple of weeks later, but that extension of life and quality of life was really something that we witnessed as a family right in front of us.”
As he delved deeper into the science of medical cannabis, Michael became increasingly involved with what was, at the time, underground research.
Despite the calibre of the studies, he and his colleagues were not able to communicate the findings to the world due to fear of prosecution. At the time, the research they were doing was illegal.
“We knew that this was going to be phenomenally powerful and we wanted to help other people and certainly our own friends and family,” he says.
Michael is no stranger to the opioid crisis which has been having a detrimental impact on public health in North America for the last 30 years.
He lost his mother – who was originally prescribed synthetic opioids to treat back pain but later became reliant on the drug – and one of his closest friends to opioid addiction.
Witnessing the rapid deterioration in both the physical and mental health of his loved ones, as a direct result of legally prescribed pharmaceutical drugs, Michael says that over the last decade his frustration and anger continues to fester.
“It really comes down to ‘big pharma’ pushing these pills and the regulations and the amount of money that goes into opioids,” he says
“If you have a number of different ailments, the only thing that traditional western medicine will give you is an opioid and there’s not an alternative.
“I think it’s tragic that we have demonised research into the cannabis plant to allow synthetic medications to be prioritised. The opportunities were and still are there, within the natural benefits of what cannabinoids can do to help in these scenarios.”
Eventually, medical cannabis was legalised in Canada and from there, Michael embarked on his ongoing mission to give more people access to high-quality CBD. But the journey was by no means a simple one.
Michael started out producing and selling Arabica coffee infused with hemp seed oil, which although is derived from the same plant, does not contain cannabinoids like CBD.
The coffee products sold well across Canada and the UK, but Michael’s true passion was in the health benefits of CBD and medical cannabis.
“I decided that what I really wanted to do was create a business that could open up the potential of CBD and recreational medical cannabis,” Michael says.
“If we can help people optimise their health and wellness as Mother Nature intended, why wouldn’t we do it? We have a responsibility.”
Michael registered Purity Hemp Co. as a company only to find that he was unable to open a business bank account or receive a VAT number. His business was filed under the same category as the likes of cryptocurrencies, ammunitions and online gambling.
He returned to the drawing board and launched a new company, Purity Wellness Group, in an effort to open a bank account and start trading. He remained transparent with the banking managers he met with and spoke honestly about his plans for the company.
“I was still getting no answers from mainstream banking,” Michael says.
“But one of the core principles of what I wanted to do with Purity Hemp Company was to create a brand that was completely transparent and had complete traceability, so we could really build trust for the customers. I couldn’t do any of that if I couldn’t even get a simple bank account.”
While he was struggling to get his business off the ground, Michael saw other companies in the market selling poor quality products, mislabelling and spreading misinformation about CBD.
“The existing market was just rife with criminality,” he continues.
“I was really getting frustrated with the fact that no one was being open and honest with the consumer.”
Michael met with a bank manager who was dealing with several health issues himself and gave him some of his product. Seeing the potential of what he was doing, the banking manager set up a bank account for Purity Wellness Group and Michael was finally able to start trading under the original name, Purity Hemp Company.
He began building Purity Hemp Company’s supply chain, working with cultivators in Colorado and building a relationship with a genetics company in the Netherlands that was developing industrial hemp with “phenomenal” cannabinoid profiles.
Michael says he wants Purity Hemp Company to position itself as a “lighthouse” for people seeking to address their health issues with CBD.
He explains: “Over the last five years the UK has been cowboy crazy with people selling low-quality products and people are holding onto hope that these products are going to get them through the day – whether that’s for cancer treatment, arthritis, joint pain or anxiety.
“What really makes us angry is that people are taking advantage of that hope.”
As many companies seek to capitalise on the booming CBD industry, Purity Hemp Company has taken a more deliberate approach, investing heavily in the development, testing and accreditation of its products.
“We very much come from a culture that wants to help, not just jump on a wave,” Michael adds.
“I didn’t need to be the first in the market, I wanted to be one of the best in the market.”
“People can come to us, they trust us, the product is affordable, and it’s making such a difference to them.
“Purity Hemp is a safe haven; We’re there for people to come and find us to get the help that they need.”
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