The two day conference in Chelsea, London shone with the vitality of cannabis related business, not only were there great diversity in businesses represented, the whole conference brimmed with an air of collaboration. All the life cycle stages of the plant were represented within the sponsors and delegates from growers of the plants such as SMPG through to white label formulators such as UBIX processing or finally diverse finished products from brands that specialise in oils such as Celtic Winds or Elixinol or more cosmetic focused lines such as Mary’s.
And of course there were the secondary services that make it all possible such as labs, packaging companies and more. The focus was on CBD products but we heard from THC producers such as Provident brands’ Lauren Maillen from North America.
Rebekah Shaman of the British Hemp association made sure to round off the two event reminding us of hemp’s potential as an alternative to many environmentally destructive materials.
Two of the strongest themes of the conference were outlined by Krista Whitley, CEO of Altitude products: firstly that producers of CBD products need not compete with one another but instead should all “together fight for medical shelf space!” The CBD industry is growing and products need not compete with one another when producers could be facing into the larger opportunity, targeting the market share of other cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The second point was that she “loved regulation”, this was echoed later by Harmony’s CEO Antonin. The reason is clear, for for firms looking to build a reputation in this space it’s vitally important that consumers are not being exposed to CBD from a poorly dosed or quality controlled source.
Currently the regulatory landscape in the European CBD market is unlear. On Monday the EU novel food catalogue was updated, “extracts of Cannabis sativa L. and derived products containing cannabinoids are considered novel foods”. How this ruling will be interpreted varies by EU member state, but this will mean that for territories like Spain where CBD was reportedly clamped down upon by authorities last year, who seized retailers stock. There is already disagreement amongst member states on this, Austria said that CBD containing products are novel while Czechia said the opposite. Currently the UK FSA is deliberating but should it decide CBD is a novel food that could put all CBD food sellers at risk.
Of course all the debate about whether CBD is a novel food or not is a sideshow to the real regulation that the industry needs, clear rules on the cannabinoid content of products, transparency on how the plant was grown and the manufacturing process followed, but that debate is for another article!