As British Cannabis Group’s newly-appointed managing director David Ralson delves into where things are headed for the company – and for the future of consumer cannabis products.
British Cannabis Group, makers of the UK’s leading Independent consumer CBD health supplements; Canabidol (R) , Access CBD(R) as well as many other brands powered under their white label division, recently celebrated the appointment of David Ralson, on his promotion from sales director to managing director in July.
David, who has been with the firm from the early days, has seen it grow into the largest and longest-standing independent cannabis company in the UK over the last six years.
“It’s hard to summarise our journey in only a few words, as the road has been long and very eventful,” he admits.
We started out back in 2015 as a small business with a dream. The light bulb moment came when our founder and CEO, Tom Whettem, was inspired by the latest reports coming in from ‘across the pond’ about the benefits of cannabis products and decided to challenge the status quo by developing and launching the first UK made sublingual cannabis / CBD tablet.
“This product at the time reached no.1 on the Amazon UK Herbal Supplements category and, at the risk of using a cliché, demand for the product grew overnight.”
British cannabis group success
This success inspired Tom to invest more into the business and expand into the research and development of more products, including the UK’s first refined, golden and smooth cannabis oil.
Having gained total control of its supply chain, with its own lab, manufacturing facility, warehouse and dispatch and leading testing facility, the firm invested all profits back into the business which led to the development of its cannabis research farm in Portugal.
David has been on board to overcome any challenges and be part of the group’s success story
“We soon became the leading experts in our field and summed this up with the company slogan ‘We know more; Because we do more,” he continues.
“Over this time, the group has had more firsts than Usain Bolt in an Olympic year. We developed the first UK-made golden CBD extract, the first water-soluble CBD, the first UK-made THC free oils and the first clinically proven cannabis cosmetic. as well as a range of supplements with added vitamins which were backed by approved EU health claims. The list goes on and on.”
This continuous programme of research and innovation at British Cannabis has most recently seen the launch of the CBD Dermal patch under their Canabidol pharmacy and retail brand
The results of over 12 months of research and development mean each patch has been designed to deliver all the benefits of the plant via a simple to use dermal application directly to any part of the body, over a 24 hour period.
Unlike other dermal products which have recently appeared on the market, the patches’ unique formula contains 17 natural plant terpenes and essential oils as well as 50mg of pure cannabis-extracted CBD.
“We looked at other products such as gummies and tablets but these are not as effective, as research shows that only a very low percentage of the CBD is actually absorbed by the body once consumed,” explains David.
“We are confident that this terpene and high CBD blend will have a more effective delivery.”
Awards and recognition
Over the years British Cannabis has won awards for its own whole plant-based distillate, as well as a number of accolades across its retail brands including best cosmetic cream and best CBD oil with Canabidol and Access CBD. Meanwhile, its white label and private label partners have also picked up a number of awards for the products we produce for them.
All this success is underpinned by the company’s motto of ‘Legacy Before Currency’ and the passion the whole business has to deliver the best quality, most compliant products on the market.
“We don’t put something out unless we’re satisfied that it is what it says and that it will work for people,” says David.
“Not only are our products working well for consumers, but our set up, with seed-to-shelf capabilities and with over 1,500 product options, all with registered Novel Foods applications, means other brands in recent months have turned to being ‘Powered by British Cannabis’ under our white-label manufacturing.
“With the situation, CBD brands are facing at the moment regarding the Novel Foods and Home office regulations, several high-profile brands have turned to us for help and support. This is because their supply chain from the US or Europe had been interrupted due to the difficulties importing products into the UK, especially ‘full-spectrum formulas and extracts.”
With many manufactures not being able to satisfy the FSA with required safety data or simply not even applying within the correct time frame for the Novel Foods dossier deadlines and the Issues surrounding controlled substances under the Home office misuse of drugs act regulations means British Cannabis offers a safe route to market and reassurance for these brands that have been let down.
British cannabis shipping
In just the first half of 2021, the company shipped over 50,000 bottles of CBD oils alone, between only two of the biggest white label clients (two of the industry’s best-known brands).
“We whole-heartedly believe in the benefit of full cannabis extracts and in getting as much of the plant into products as possible; it’s what we did (THC notwithstanding) for several years,” said David.
“But while we empathise with this cause, we have to maintain a compliant product range so that the industry as a whole can survive and move on. We would encourage any brand that is struggling with its ongoing supply chain, due to regulatory pressures, to get in touch to see if we can help.
“We are unmatched when it comes to these areas, and as we see the market evolve, we are already poised to take the next step as the UK leading independent cannabis company.”
The firm is now investing in a new facility which will see it treble its capacity and ensure staff are well looked after with improved staff benefits; after all, “look after your staff and they will look after your customers”, adds David.
British cannabis analytics
This facility includes a state of the art ISO-accredited testing lab (British Cannabis Analytics) and manufacturing investment, including a new cosmetics line.
As one of 35 testing labs selected to participate in the UK’s Government Chemist ring trial assessment for measuring CBD and cannabinoid content in commercial products, British Cannabis’ Analytics division received a vote of confidence in their product testing services and validation about the reliability and accuracy of their results.
The ring trial represents a coordinated effort to establish effective processes for measuring cannabinoid levels in nutrition, novel food and cosmetics products as they become increasingly available in the UK. The LGC stated that the trial was “very successful”, with 82 percent of labs demonstrating their capability to determine CBD in consumer products successfully.
CEO and founder, Tom Whettem, commented: “Having this amount of trust and faith put into our analytics services is further ratification that British Cannabis’ labs are up to par with other established testing facilities such as the MHRA, Eurofins and British American Tobacco. “After five years of pioneering in the UK consumer cannabis industry, the hope is that the establishment of British Cannabis Analytics will take the company one step closer to becoming a preeminent household name, on a par with legacy firms the likes of British Sugar, British Gas and British Airways.”
The company is also in the process of building a cannabis experience room, which should be ready for clients to immerse themselves in the story of the industry by the end of the year.
The idea came about after the company’s Portugal research and development farm donated a Cannabis sativa L. plant to showcase in the RHS Wisley plant medicines display at its new Hilltop Science Centre.
But the team also realises that they can only stay ahead of the game for so long as an independent company.
Following the recent trend of cannabis companies gaining London Stock Exchange (LSE) listings, David has confirmed that they too are in the process of securing investment.
“We want to ensure our legacy not only continues but that we have the size and scale to truly become a success story for the cannabis sector,” he says.
“With no ties to cigarette or vape companies or another larger parent company backing us, being independent and family-owned is something we continue to be proud of. However, we certainly intend to move with the times and look outward to strengthen British Cannabis for the long term.”
David adds: “I extend my thanks to the team and our customers for the faith they have shown in putting me in this position to lead.
“There’s going to be a great ride ahead of us.”
How do I access a medical cannabis prescription?
Two experts discuss the process of accessing a medical cannabis prescription
Curious about accessing a medical cannabis prescription? It can be difficult to know where to start or what to expect.
Cannabis Health News editor, Caroline Barry, who has a medical cannabis prescription for ADHD, and Dr Jean Gerard Sinovich, medical director of the Cannabis Access Clinics discuss how the process works.
When I decided to get a medical cannabis prescription, I had exhausted all the other options. I had tried prescription drugs for ADHD like Ritalin with little success over my teenage years before moving to various therapies as an adult.
I tried holistic approaches such as acupuncture or CBD which improved my sleep and anxiety but did little to my hyperactivity. Eventually, I reached out to the NHS for medication before having no luck.
Prepare your paperwork
I found a clinic in the UK that offered cannabis prescriptions for ADHD and reached out to them for assessment. The first thing I needed to do was collect my paperwork. As I already had my diagnosis from a psychiatrist, I needed to get proof of this along with which medications I had had over the years.
Dr Sinovich said: “To be assessed for medical cannabis, you need to apply to a clinic either directly or through your GP. We normally advise people to get a full medical history from the GP as to what medications they tried in the past. The person is assessed on an individual basis to find out what the patient is presented with and who specialises in that.”
He continued: “The aim of medical cannabis is to improve your pain, sleep and mood. Patients would have had to have tried other conventional medications for their conditions. If they have exhausted most possibilities and avenues then they could be assessed for medical cannabis. It doesn’t mean that every patient who comes to the clinic is prescribed cannabis.”
Prepare for your assessment
When it was time for my assessment, I was actually really nervous. When you are speaking to doctors, it can be extremely nerve-wracking to accurately get across the level of pain or discomfort you are in. I find that because my ADHD is not visible, I worry about being believed or qualifying for medication. Having had no luck with conventional medications, I was worried that this was my last resort and I wouldn’t get a prescription.
My assessment was with a psychiatrist online. A lot of medical cannabis clinics are based in London which I am not. It’s one of the few positive things to come out of Covid-19, that we have held on to telemedicine.
My appointment was very thorough, but none of the questions were difficult. The feeling of relief when the doctor said he thought I qualified was immense.
Dr Sinovich added: “The consultation process normally lasts anything from half an hour to 45 minutes where we go through the medical history, what their aims are, their views and why they decided to access cannabis at this stage in their life. We also have to make sure there are no possible interactions with any of the other medications.”
Costing out medical cannabis prescriptions
Dr Sinovich highlighted one of the key issues with accessing medical cannabis which patients need to be aware of – the cost.
“The most important thing is that it’s not [widely available on the NHS] so it’s all privately funded. People must be aware of the costs that it entails,” he said.
“It takes time for cannabis to work, it’s not overnight. It can take a good six to eight weeks and you need to follow up continuously to make sure there are no side effects.”
Affording medical cannabis can be difficult as there are few options available for support. Despite cannabis being legalised on NHS three years ago, there remains only a handful of prescriptions which have been written.
Project Twenty21 can help with capped prescription costs as long as patients can qualify for the conditions listed and have a history of two or more prescriptions that have proved ineffective. They have recently launched a student scheme aimed at helping patients affording medical cannabis while on a college-friendly budget.
The cost of medical cannabis tends to be dose-dependent. Cannabis Access Clinic estimate that the average cost of cannabis prescriptions in the UK is around “£150 to £250 per month for a THC and CBD inclusive prescription.”
A CBD only prescription is listed as being on average £100 to £150 a month although they note that some epileptic disorders will require much higher doses.
Patients also have to take into account the consultation fees which can vary from £100 to £200 depending on the clinic. Integro Medical Clinic lists their initial consultation at £95 to £195 with repeat consultations at the same price. Patients are also monitored through online questionnaires about their moods.
Speaking to your GP
When it comes to speaking to your doctor about a decision to try medical cannabis, they may not be supportive. If a patient prefers not to speak to their GP about it, they can ask for a copy of their medical records and self-refer.
I spoke to my GPs in both Ireland and the UK. While I had a positive reaction from my English GP who was interested in what effect this would have, my Irish GP was not as supportive. He was dismissive of my seeking medication as an adult in general so the medical cannabis element was a step too far for him. I got my paperwork and have not been in touch with either about my ADHD since then.
Dr Sinovich said: “Most of the time, you can request paperwork from the GP because it’s your details at the end of the day. Most GPs are quite open to medical cannabis in terms of an augmentative treatment to help with different conditions. You get very few GPs that say no. If patients are having trouble with GPs then they can always arrange a call to explain the benefits. We do a lot of educational work with GPs as it’s new and with anything new to a market, people want to see results and can be sceptical about it.”
Don’t be nervous
Before I went for my assessment, I was very nervous. I have had bad experiences with doctors not listening or taking my ADHD symptoms seriously because they may not always believe in the condition. My Irish GP once said to me when I phoned to say I was seeking medication, that ADHD adults ‘grow out of it’, which is a common misconception about ADHD and some forms of neurodiversity. No wonder I was nervous but I need not have been, as the doctors were incredibly supportive. Knowing your symptoms is key though.
Where does my medical cannabis come from?
Once my assessments were over and the team had discussed my case and decided I qualified, I had to decide what the best course of medication was for me. I opted for a vape because it’s easy for me to fit that into my lifestyle in comparison to oils. ADHD people are often forgetful, and I know this applies to me, so I worried I would forget to take an oil dose. My prescription was sent to Rockshaw pharmacy and arrived at my door discreetly. No one would have had a clue as to what the parcel actually was.
“Once you’ve had your consult – and every clinic is different – the script is approved by a multi-disciplinary team then goes to an independent pharmacy,” explained Dr Sinovich.
“The pharmacy will then get the product to them in the next day or within 24 hours. If you are outside of the UK then you may have to wait a little bit longer. For example, we have Guernsey patients who have to apply for a licence so it does take a little bit longer for that process. The patient deals directly with the pharmacy in terms of costs.”
Medical cannabis prescription abroad
It’s worth noting that if you travel, you may not be able to take your prescription with you. As an Irish woman living in the UK with a prescription, I can’t travel with my medication back to Ireland. If you do travel then be prepared for the potentially negative outcome.
Dr Sinovich agreed: “It’s a very difficult one, unfortunately. If you look at the United States and Canada then you can’t travel between borders as there are strict rules in place. We normally advise patients to consult with the consultant and the terms of the country that they want to visit. There are no blanket rules for everyone but most countries in Europe are happy for individuals to transport their medical cannabis across borders. It varies from country to country. Normally we issue a script that they have to carry in hand luggage.”
“We normally advise individuals that it’s not for public use. It’s why a lot of people converted to oil or a capsule. People must realise that if they do get stopped then they need to show proof that they are taking medical cannabis legally and according to doctor’s guidelines,” said Dr Sinovich.
“In the UK, it’s still relatively new so people are starting to get more access to products. It’s going to take some time but the law will change.”
Still thinking about accessing a medical cannabis prescription?
My prescription has been the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s helped me to enjoy my evenings instead of being hyper-focused and tense and I also sleep better now.
Dr Sinovich said: “The nice thing about medical cannabis is it is tailored to an individual. I don’t think I have a single patient with exactly the same dose. It’s a tailor-made plan for an individual and you assess them to see if it’s working. You can adjust the CBD to THC ratios and there are lots of different products to choose from.”
He added: “It’s another armour you can use in treatment. There are multiple CBD receptors in the central nervous system. It’s about adjusting the mindset, obviously, it takes time and individuals need to invest in it. It’s investing in your future itself and what you could achieve or how you could improve your life.
“I have a lot of patients that I’ve seen for whom it is life-changing.”
Cannabis legalisation not linked to rise in car accidents, says study
Cannabis legalisation sparked fears that it would increase driving-related emergency rooms admission
A team of researchers have studied emergency room records and determined that cannabis legalisation in Canada has not resulted in an increase in admissions.
The data published in the journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence revealed that there has been no increase in two provinces, Alberta and Ontario.
Canada legalised cannabis in 2018, which led to concerns that it would increase the number of traffic injuries, especially among young drivers.
The researchers, from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the University of British Columbia, assessed emergency department records to find any patterns in traffic-injury visits in the months leading to the legalisation and immediately afterwards.
They separated the drivers into two groups focusing on adult drivers and teenagers aged 14 to 18-years-old.
Cannabis legalisation and drivers
They reported: “The current study found no evidence that the implementation of the Cannabis Act was associated with significant changes in post-legalisation patterns of all drivers’ traffic-injury ED visits or, more specifically, youth-driver traffic-injury ED presentations.”
“Given that Canada’s Cannabis Act mandated that the Canadian Parliament review the public health consequences of the Act no later than 2023, the findings of the current study can provide empirical data not only for the Canadian evaluation of the calculus of harms and benefits but also for other international jurisdictions weighing the merits and drawbacks of cannabis legalisation policies.”
The Canadian data is consistent with studies from the United States that show no changes in traffic safety in the months following legalisation.
The study does not take into account the longer-term implications of legalisation despite other studies producing mixed results.
A study from earlier this year reported that drivers who use cannabis may not feel as impaired as someone else who used the same amount but a different strain.
UK Fibromyalgia to host two-part webinar on medical cannabis and CBD
A two-part series will educate on the experiences of those living with fibromyalgia and arthritis
UK Fibromyalgia, a magazine dedicated to the chronic condition, will host a two-part webinar discussing the role that medical cannabis and CBD can play in treatment.
UK Fibromyalgia has joined forces with Integro Clinics, Primary Care Cannabis Network, Cannabis Patient Advocacy and Support Services (CPASS) and PLEA (Patient-led Engagement for Access) to present a two-part webinar discussing fibromyalgia, arthritis and cannabis medicines.
An approximate 1.5-2 million people suffer from fibromyalgia and 10 million have arthritis in the UK. The management of the symptoms of these conditions can take a long time to diagnose correctly and can take even longer before they are effectively brought under control.
This two-part series aims to educate attendees on the experiences and lives of those living with fibromyalgia and arthritis, as well as show the benefits that cannabis medicines and CBD can have in alleviating symptoms of these conditions.
Ann-Marie Bard is one of three patients, who will be speaking at the second episode of the webinar. She suffers from fibromyalgia and takes medical cannabis to manage her symptoms. She shares her story from diagnosis to gaining her CBMP prescription and describes how it has improved her quality of life.
Ann-Marie was a respected and accomplished full-time dental surgeon, having practised for over 25 years before she developed fibromyalgia.
In October 2018, she started to experience unexplained pain all over her body, but as is very common, she did not get a final diagnosis until March 2021. She eventually saw a rheumatologist, who was able to classify what she was experiencing as fibromyalgia. This only happened as a result of an emergency dash to the hospital as she was in such crippling pain.
Anne-Marie said: “I had a major flare-up at work and had to go to the hospital, it was just terrible. I was in severe pain and couldn’t walk, this was by far the worst attack I had ever had. That’s when things became clear and having seen a rheumatologist, I found out it was fibromyalgia, causing my pain.”
“I was put on various medications such as steroids and pain killers; tramadol, amitriptyline and duloxetine. At first, these helped the pain slightly, but the side effects made me feel like a zombie, I had ‘brain fog’, exhaustion and I wasn’t able to drive while I was on them.”
Her fibromyalgia led to her losing the full use of her hands and she was left unable to grip, which meant that she could no longer perform surgery. This had a devastating effect on her mental and psychical health.
It reached the point, that the side effects of these conventional medicines were becoming unbearable. She had first read about Dr Anthony Ordman, a well-known pain consultant and medical lead at Integro Clinics in a UK Fibromyalgia Magazine.
Ann-Marie decided that medicinal cannabis might be worth trying as a solution to her pain. After first seeing Dr Ordman, she immediately felt that she had come to the right place to help her deal with her condition.
Anne-Marie said: “Dr Ordman made me so calm and at ease. I found the whole process so easy because I was speaking to someone who truly listened, understood everything there is to know about fibromyalgia and cared. He really went the extra mile, keeping my GP in the loop and letting them know exactly what he was going to prescribe. Speaking to him made me feel secure and that I was going to get the help that I needed.”
Ann-Marie was prescribed a mix of THC and CBD cannabis oil, which she found had a hugely positive and beneficial effect.
Fibromyalgia and cannabis
She added: “The cannabis oil has helped me so much, taking it means I can actually get on with things like yoga, gardening and driving as there is no ‘brain fog’ effect. I can be present mentally, rather than being spaced out and spend more quality time with my family. For me, there are no side effects from the oil, it doesn’t feel like it did when I was on all of the traditional medications. The oil has given me my life back. Cannabis medicines really should be more accessible for everyone, they have changed my life and I believe they can help people in a similar situation to me.”
Ann-Marie believes that more needs to be done to raise awareness when it comes to medical cannabis. She thinks that the NHS should understand that it really is a substantial alternative to conventional medicines.
She explained: “I’m taking part in the webinar because I believe, ultimately, that this medicine should be more accessible. Fibromyalgia sufferers should have access to information about medical cannabis and I hope to raise more awareness of it, letting people know that there are other options than just traditional opioids.”
To register for this free event please follow the links to get your tickets:
Part 1: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/168090997699
Part 2: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/168112536121
If you would like further information or to speak to Dr Anthony Ordman please contact Integro Clinics:
Dr Anthony Ordman senior clinical adviser and hon. clinical director Integro concluded: Integro Medical Clinics Ltd always recommends remaining under the care and treatment of your GP and specialist for your condition, while using cannabis-based medicines, and the Integro clinical team would always prefer to work in collaboration with them.
Introducing our new B2B title
- Is it time for a T (tolerance)-break?
- 95% of patients with rare skin condition report improvements with cannabis topicals
- How do I access a medical cannabis prescription?
- Patient Voices: “I feel like I can plan for the future instead of having to take one day at a time”
- How The Good Level is changing the UK CBD market for the better
- Cannabis legalisation not linked to rise in car accidents, says study
News10 months ago
Community extends support to cannabis icon Rick Simpson
News1 year ago
NHS lines up cannabis medicine manufacturing
Case Studies2 years ago
CBD oil and fibromyalgia – a case study
News12 months ago
Cancer survivor claims cannabis oil helped her beat brain tumour
Insight11 months ago
I’ve gone from a wheelchair to walking thanks to cannabis
News9 months ago
UK grants second licence to grow high-THC medical cannabis
Feature1 year ago
Medical cannabis could help long-term effects of COVID-19, says David Nutt
Industry8 months ago
“Game changer” for the sector: First cannabis company expected to list on LSE next month