• Chris Tasker

Cannabis: how do we move forward in 2021?

Since the emergence of the CBD green rush tremendous focus has been placed on products. Not just developing “the best” but being seen as having the best product”. There have been tremendous struggles advertising cannabis products over recent years and so it will take innovative and creative companies to design valuable offerings that encourage engagement with consumer communities. Brand loyalty and business is built off of trust. With the densely populated pool of competing cannabis companies, standing out is key more so now than ever. How can a company do this? Leadership and accountability. 99% of cannabis using patients are still criminals in the eyes of the law. Prescriptions are very much a golden ticket for most corners of the UK and depending on where you are in the postcode lottery and your ability to access private medicine, you are open to prosecution. The emergence of CBD is just the tip of the iceberg. 2020 has been the calm before the cannabis storm. Here we look at a some of the leadi

ng debates that we want to draw attention to in the UK. These issues have been overlooked by much of the industry and as such offer a wealth of opportunity to those seeking to support the frontlines of British cannabis.

A greater focus on people

Since the emergence of a thriving CBD industry, patients have felt as though they have been left behind by the fast-paced industry. The emergence of CBD as wellness supplement has contributed somewhat to the devaluing of cannabis as a legitimate life changing medicine. Our conflicting policies have left Police, and businesses alike walking a tight rope of crime and compliance. Has the industry left patients behind? Have we got a little carried away with products and forgotten about the people who have led the debate until 2018?

Pioneering groups such as Seed Our Future (SOF) have been defending vulnerable patients from the 99% who are yet to gain a private legal prescription. Up until the creation of SOF these patients were forced to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence without ever making a medical defence. A very small percentage of patient defend themselves in court and defend their use of cannabis. That is until now and thanks due to the incredible efforts of SOF and the collective support of the UK patient community. Our current policy criminalises some 99% of cannabis consumers who are self-reliant and using cannabis medicinally.

We hope that by supporting iniatives like SOF with science academia and the support of industry, we can accelerate the social impact & equity of cannabis access. De facto decriminalization is in the air from the ground up. It is returning tremendous hope to the self-reliant cannabis community many of whom have been producing their own cannabis for years.

Environmental awareness

Cannabis industry is starting afresh. There is an incredible opportunity to build sustainable foundations that take the correct ecological considerations. British hemp technologies are world leading but painfully underutilised. This represents a overlooked titan that could be leading the world in the deployment of green solutions in sectors from farming to packaging.

To give you a snapshot of how inefficient some aspects of industry production can we we should take a look at indoor medical facilities. The electricity consumption for these indoor grows in the United States is estimated to be 1% of the national electricity use equating to $6billion per year (Mills, 2012).

1kg of final product is associated with 4600kg of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, the equivalent of 3 million average U.S. cars (Mills, 2012). These make for some quit startling figures when we consider the green roots of cannabis industry. There is a lot of value to be derived from exploring the multiple dimensions of the cannabis plant. With such a depth of history and terrific origins and culture incredible value can be offered to the industry and society. We can do better!

The building of a collaborative industry

The first years of the emerging UK industry made for highly competitive and sometimes fiery viewing. Lots of companies all competing with very similar white label products. Those who entered the industry in good faith, to create exciting projects and collaborate with the community succeeded in these last years. Thinking ahead and beyond has afforded some tremendous advantages to those companies’ patient enough to do their own homework and research.

Many underestimated the cannabis industry, treating CBD as a fleeting trend that was to be capitalised on as fast as possible, neglecting any long-term view. Where does this leave us? After the emergence of Covid and the mass exodus of brokers from CBD into PPE we were left with a smaller industry. What was left and is now remaining seems to be the businesses that are here for the long haul and in much the same trend as before, I see the creative and forward-thinking companies thriving and leading the industry. Too many are chasing the next CBD, maybe looking at CBG. This is a slippery slope, set your own trend, build your own vision, do your research, and prepare for the long haul. There is a wonderful community of likeminded groups out there. People who want to build a responsible and patient focussed industry that improves society and sets sustainable foundations for years to come. This year I hope we can come together and continue this growth as a collaborative industry where we can support patients on the frontline. Until we get behind the wider cannabis community and support patients as an industry, how can we expect to grow and rebuild the trust between patients and producers and move this sector forward?

Mills, E. (2012) ‘The carbon footprint of indoor Cannabis production’, Energy Policy. Elsevier, 46, pp. 58–67. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.03.023.

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