LEADING CBD brand CiiTECH is branching out into THC products as founder Clifton Flack warms to the emerging European medical cannabis market.
Its Provacan brand, which regularly features in top 10 of UK CBD brands, was launched four years ago, partially born from his frustration with the pace of medical cannabis prescribing.
However, as the medical cannabis market develops in the UK and Europe, his position has shifted and Provacan will soon be launching a THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) range in Israel and the UK.
In the past Mr Flack has been sceptical of the ability of the medical cannabis market to meet patients’ needs.
Beyond A Bag Of Weed
He still believes it needs to move beyond a ‘bag of weed’ but his previous scepticism is now waning.
“I have said this since I began CiiTECH and that is why I founded CiiTECH. I don’t believe medical cannabis, as it is today, is scaleable.
“It is only scaleable if it evolves and it’s not evolving. It’s still a bag of weed and as long as it is – be that, even, gummies or tinctures – it is not scaleable, not as medicine, not under a doctors prescription.”
Mr Flack’s scepticism stems from the widespread availability of CBD in places such as the UK.
Some 18 months ago he told this correspondent: “Here in the UK there are over one million people using CBD and not a single prescription has been written for that. The numbers don’t stack up for medical cannabis.”
However speaking to BusinessCann in the last week, this absolutist position is diluting: “With the private clinics opening-up and various access initiatives such as Project 2021 the number of UK patients securing medical cannabis could reach 20,000 by next year.
“We always had the intention at some point, when the regulation allowed and when there was the demand to add THC to our products, or create a THC line.
“We are now seeing opportunities opening up in THC and we would be remiss no to look to explore its potential.
“These will be launched first in Israel from Israel – which has a successful medical cannabis programme -and then into the UK. Our business model hasn’t changed, we have always been about trustworthy consumer cannabis brands.”
Three CBD Ranges
Born in North London Mr Flack is based in Israel from where he runs CiiTECH – a business with three CBD ranges: Provacan, Hugg and Impact.
CiiTECH’s emphasis on delivering cannabis medicines and products based on a science dates back to its inception.
This research-backed basis of its commercial efforts provides CiiTECH with a scientific grounding few competitors in the CBD space posses.
It works closely with Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and its initial study in partnership with Prof Raphael Mechoulam, looked at the potential for a CBD derivative as a treatment for asthma.
This research partnership continues and it is currently seeking patents for CBD-based treatments for hangovers and to help with weight loss. He calls these the company’s second generation brands and they are ‘indication specific’.
However, the inability to make health claims for over-the-counter products in the UK mean the USA and South Africa – where it has recently opened a new office – are, for now, the target markets for these second generation products.
The company employs 14 people mainly based in Israel, with outsourcing arrangements supporting production, logistics and e-commerce.
New Leaf Opportunities
Back in the UK it is pursuing a Novel Food validation with pharmaceutical partner TTS Pharma, although, like many in the industry he has concerns surrounding validation and enforcement over the coming months.
Reflecting on the past 12 months he says: “What has happened over the past year is that much of the world has slowed down, the industry hasn’t, and regulation hasn’t.
“Everything’s moving on, Novel Food specifically is about to cause the single biggest paradigm shift since the CBD industry began six to eight years ago.”
However looking ahead he says it is always looking for innovative ways to move product and continues to work on product development with fellow Israeli company Kanabo.
He added: “There are massive opportunities for UK coming out Covid and Brexit. There could not be a better time for UK economy to embrace cannabis and encourage investment.
“Having sold cannabinoids in UK for the last four years I know the potential the UK has to lead the global industry and we fully support the goals of the New Leaf campaign.
“We see the potential for significant scaleable revenues and a thriving market with the potential to create thousands of jobs. CBD investments make sense and THC will play a big part in that future, too.”