As the smoke clears around a fresh wave of legislation, Matt Chittock explores how next-generation healthy cannabis products are setting new highs for health stores – no Rizlas required
Whether consumers are cooking with it, cleansing with it, or even going retro and smoking the stuff, one thing’s for sure: cannabis is having a moment right now.
After centuries of prohibition, global attitudes appear to be mellowing to the once demonized plant. For example, nine states in the US followed California’s lead and made it legal in 2018 – with the whole of Canada joining the party in October.
Even the UK’s hard-line stance is gradually going up in smoke. Thanks to a series of high-profile cases involving children denied cannabis oil to treat epilepsy, doctors can now prescribe cannabis-derived medicine in England, Scotland and Wales.
Meanwhile, all this media attention is definitely creating a consumer buzz. At this year’s Natural & Organic Products Europe the aisles are set to be full of exciting and innovative cannabis-inspired drinks, oils, edibles and bodycare products. But why are these items suddenly so popular?
Patrick Gillett from Hempen, a not-for-profit organic hemp farming cooperative set up by environmental and social campaigners, believes that a perfect storm of changing legislation and evolving cultural norms is sparking worldwide interest.
“There’s been a huge change culturally that’s been driven by legalization,” he says. “Starting in California, we’ve seen a relaxing in state law, which is feeding up to the federal level. This in turn is allowing a lot of research and experimentation with cannabis that hasn’t been allowed since the Second World War. The results are showing what a healthy, holistic product it is, and this information is flooding onto the Internet. So, of course, people are interested!”
“The explosion of CBD is creating a market for growing hemp in this country … it’s a wonderful plant with so many ecological properties”
Spread the word
There is also the word-of-mouth factor, as others discover it works for them.“What works for one [person] may not work for another,” says Tim Moxey from edible CBD brand Mr Moxey’s Mints. “However, it’s a harmless and cost-effective natural substance that for many people is worth trying out.”
“There has been a lot of mainstream media attention on CBD,” he adds. “The general public is now aware of the concept and can easily educate themselves online on both CBD and THC. What we’re now seeing is people realizing they could benefit from CBD, and as they find it improves their life, they spread the word.”
Currently, the hero product in the UK is CBD oil, mainly due to the fact that it is winning column inches and online interest thanks to high-profile fans such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston.
Health stores have always been well placed to get behind new oils, and the view from the shop floor is that CBD oil has undoubtedly captured people’s imagination.
“Right now the CBD oil just seems to sell itself,” says Edith Yli-Kauhaluoma, bodycare specialist at Infinity Foods in Brighton. “There’s obviously lots of media attention on it right now and that’s creating a lot of interest. We do the Brighton Botanicals oil, which is a local company we like, and Kiki Health. Both of them do really well. It’s mainly for people who come in with problems like anxiety and
It’s a similar story over at Goodfayre in Salisbury. Store owner Dana Burton says she started stocking cannabis oil in direct response to customer demand. “It was a bit of a risk as it’s a different kind of line for us; we tend to concentrate more on food than supplements,” she says. “But we basically went with it because people had read about it, then came in and asked for it. People seem to find it
useful for a large range of problems, and we’ve sold out of the little bottles.”
As sales soar, the new generation of cannabis-inspired manufacturers definitely aren’t dazed and confused. They’re set on cashing in on a new market taking its cues from Instagram health influencers, not the counterculture. And one of the ways companies are communicating this new ‘professional’ feel is through pack designs.
“Unfortunately, there are still a few people in the mainstream that tend to freak out when you mention anything to do with cannabis,” says George Bond from Advance Biotech. “When creating our brand, we wanted something that didn’t just look like a disposable ‘buzz product’. People perceive it as a medicinal product, so we wanted something that looks professional on the shelves of health food shops or pharmacies. That means not putting a huge cannabis leaf on everything.”
Of course, there’s room in the market for more traditional thinking too – even if the products are forward-looking. For example, when designing its new HempCeutix product – a supplement offering full spectrum phytocannabinoid, not only isolated CBD – Nature’s Plus chose to signpost with a cannabis leaf for easy recognition.
“It is very distinctive, therefore consumers can easily identify what the product is and remember it,” says Martina Della Vedova, nutritionist at Nature’s Plus. [Our labels] are always very informative, giving the customer all the information needed.” She adds that consumers want a variety of different delivery formats. “The liquids are great, but capsules are easy to take, are standardized, stable and have a consistent therapeutic dose along with other phytocannabinoids.”
Back to its roots
For many people it’s gratifying that cannabis feels like it’s ‘come home’ to health stores, since it is part of the industry’s DNA. In novelist Geoff Dyer’s memoir of
1980’s dole bohemia, The Colour of Memory, there’s a telling description of a health store ‘where the guys behind the counter are always too stoned to work out the change’. Plus, for the original sixties pioneers, marijuana and macrobiotic food were agents of social change.
Gratifyingly, there are still people who believe in the utopian possibilities of hemp and its by-products. Take the activists behind Oxfordshire-based Hempen. “We wanted to do something
that allowed us to live and work in the countryside collectively as a community – something that we could be proud of and believe in,” says Gillett. So, in 2015 they started the cooperative, which today generates a range of products, including organic full-spectrum CBD oil.
“The explosion of CBD is creating a market for growing hemp in this country,” he says. “Hemp isn’t just about CBD oil either; it’s a wonderful plant with so many ecological properties. Post-Brexit, we can create rural jobs and communities around that – and that’s what’s important to us at Hempen.”
Ironically, pure market forces have achieved what the ‘free the weed’ campaigners couldn’t do – that is to place cannabis front-and-centre for the general public. Now that it’s set to smash the mainstream, the Government is having to play catch-up.
“The genie’s out of the bottle,” says Gillett. “It’s on almost every high street now, and the Government might
find itself playing catch-up with the customer demand. But if it’s clever, it will regulate in a way that enables Britain, and British farmers and producers, to benefit from this quickly-growing market.”
Sparking joint regulation
Any retailer Googling ‘CBD oil eBay’ should prepare themselves for some alarming search results.
As with any exciting new natural product, there’s a shadow market online through which dodgy manufacturers can make wild claims about potentially unsafe products sold at suspiciously rock-
“From our point of view the biggest challenge is competing with these people online,” says George Bond from Advance Bio-tech. “We make sure we’re members of the right associations to keep everything legal. We also never make medical claims. Then you go online and see people on eBay selling CBD oil bought in bulk from who knows where that they claim is going to cure cancer. It is really frustrating.”
To fight this, Bond believes that the Government needs to regulate quickly, but consult with the industry first.“The Government must consult with the right bodies to make it work for everyone,” he says. “It’s not about just coming along, making up their own rules and telling people that’s the way it is.”
THC, or not THC – that is the question
By law, CBD products sold in the UK must contain less than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to ensure they’ve got no chance of getting you high. It’s a different story in the US, and this creates a unique challenge for brands that want to reach both markets, like Mr Moxey’s Mints.
“In the UK market we must follow the EU guidelines on hemp and CBD,” explains Tim Moxey, the brains behind the edible CBD brand.
“That means we use EU-approved CBD that doesn’t contain THC (the component that gets you high and is illegal in the UK). Other than that, the other herbs we use are the same, and the mints are pretty much identical.”
“There is definitely an appetite for change within the public psyche on all cannabis-related issues in the UK. I see the global shift towards cannabis legalization as an inevitability, but what’s important is creating a sensible system that works.”
Advance Biotech – Natural & Organic CBD Products
Advance Biotech Ltd is a specialist CBD producer, headquartered in the United Kingdom, with a vast experience in the manufacture and distribution of the most unique and pure hemp-based branded products within the market. With the ever-expanding knowledge of hemp-based research in the ever-changing global marketplace, we pioneer and strive to be at the forefront of this global change. We have our sights firmly planted on the exciting future within the world of hemp and will continue to formulate and provide the best quality products for you, safe in the knowledge of Advance Biotech’s guarantee of ethically sourced quality products.
Brighton Botanicals full spectrum cbd oil
Established in 2013, Brighton Botanicals is a small independent retailer and producer of top quality full spectrum cbd oil. Working closely with Sussex hemp farms to produce a great tasting oil with an organic cold pressed hemp carrier. Available from 200mgs-3000mgs in strength, presented in attractive green glass 15 ml dropper bottles. We also make vegan cbd capsules and cbd edibles. Our signature recipe is our organic cbd balm with shea butter, turmeric, black pepper, juniper and ginger essential oils. We make all our products in small batches in Brighton. 100% 5* reviews on our social media. Feel free to visit us on Facebook: @BrightonBotanicalsuk and Instagram:
KIKI Health’s CBD range contains a premium blend of high potency CBD (cannabidiol) from Holland. The range is derived from organically grown whole plant extract that has been harvested and cultivated in a distinctive way to create a synergistically active full spectrum oil that is rich in a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes; crucial to the CBD’s overall effectiveness. To ensure purity and omit degrading, a chemical free CO² extraction method is used, resulting in a pure and potent vegetable-based oil that is mixed with Hemp Seed oil. No additives, fillers or preservatives are ever added.
uHemp CBD Extract
uHemp are the largest full plant CBD (cannabidiol) extract producer in the EU, specialising in white label products. They are the very first vegan certified CBD producer in the world. Since 1999 they have produced the highest quality Hemp products from organically grown Cannabis sativa L within the EU for private corporations. The crops are grown under government licence to GMP specification.
Sativa CBD oil
With the huge selection of CBD oils on the market it’s difficult to know which product provides guaranteed levels of active ingredients, especially as many CBD companies have sprung up overnight. World Foods Brand Management Ltd distribute some of the best known and trusted food supplements which ensures that your customers receive only the most pure and active CBD oil. Sativa CBD oil also benefits from the easy drop dispenser and is competitively priced from £17.95 and is exclusive to Independent Health Stores For more information call Andy Phillips on 01782 366080 or email [email protected]
Turmeric x CBD oil (500mg & 1000mg)
Our Turmeric x CBD oil blends are potent yet soothing formulations, harnessing the power of plants for the ultimate wellness experience. We combined three widely studied ancient plants to create two blends for modern day ailments. To harness their fullest potential we designed this formulation with black pepper extract (BioPerine®) and organic virgin olive oil to increase absorption and potency. Our blends are tested for heavy metals and pesticides to guarantee the purity.