A NEW UK Cannabis Industry Council is being created aimed at providing a platform for the industry to speak with one voice.
It is being driven initially by Prof Mike Barnes – Chairman of Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society – it so far has over 60 members with the aim of securing an initial 100, then pushing on from there.
Speaking to BusinessCann Mr Barnes said: “We need a voice to represent the industry as a whole – that is everyone; clinics, dispensaries, patients’, groups, lawyers, licensed producers, educators, charities, researchers, professional bodies, the trade groups, and others.
“We have written to over 100 of these organisations, with over 60 positive responses and no negative ones to date.”
With so many disparate divisions set to make-up the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC) Mr Barnes perceives it operating via a handful of sub-groups, representing the various industry segments, reporting to a board of eight to ten.
These sub-groups will likely include; medical cannabis, industrial hemp, parliamentary lobbying and PR, research, and others, and will feed into the CIC board which will aim to then speak with a cumulative, coherent voice.
He added: “I would say our aim is to be the voice for the industry as whole; so if the Government has any particular issue I would like to see them come to us first, as we will have the expertise to talk to them across all of the sectors.
“The second aim I would say, is in relation to lobbying and, going with that, we need to counteract the negatives that come in the press in relation to cannabis; so the media, marketing and PR-side is really important, too.
“And, of course, one of the main roles of the CIC will be to push for prescriptions on the NHS. To make it widely available to all those who need it.”
He believes it will also be powerful voice for commerce, saying that if a business ‘large or small’ was having difficulties with regulations or another matter then the CIC – as the voice of the industry – would have the ‘clout and access’ to Government.
Prof Barnes says it will need subscriptions to fund a website, a part-time administrator, a regular newsletter with additional cash going forward to deliver on its objectives.
He is suggesting an initial voluntary contribution of £1,000 for those organisations that can afford it and otherwise an ‘honesty box’ approach for others.
He added: “Our aim is to be inclusive and not exclusive – we will not allow lack of finances to prevent membership.”
Stephen Murphy, Co-Founder of leading global data and Canna-tech firm Prohibition Partners, welcomed the development, saying: “The launch of the Cannabis Industry Council is a very positive milestone for the domestic industry that ensures a democratic representation and provides an inclusive body for the industry.
“We’ve seen in other jurisdictions the role industries bodies have made in terms of improving access for patients and standards for companies operating within the space. The UK is emerging as a European leader and the Cannabis Industry Council will have a significant role to play if we are going to achieve our potential.”
Sian Phillips, Managing Director of the Cannabis Trades Association, is also a keen supporter, she said: “The CTA are pleased to be invited to the CIC and hope that our involvement from the start, with over 60 other representatives, will shape the future for the entire industry.
“There is a lot of work to be done before its launch as there are many facets to the industry to be discussed. We have submitted constructive ideas to be considered in the inaugural meeting.
“The formation of this Council is crucial to the direction of the entire sector, and the responses show that the industry is finally maturing and is now willing to come together and heal from a fractured past.”
Pierre Van Weperen, CEO of Grow Pharma, makes the point that it is ‘essential for the industry to speak with one voice’.
Vibrant, Profitable UK Industry
And, he went on to say it would have been a welcome move if the CIC had reached out to the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis before launching this initiative.
Prof Barnes mapped-out some of the challenges the CIC should tackle: “Some of the first issues will be standardisation of products and clear labelling, a less restrictive CBD regime than Novel Foods, and, personally, I would like to see GP’s allowed to prescribe medical cannabis – and greater education for the medical profession overall.”
He concluded: “The idea is to bring together all those disparate organisations, businesses, and groups working in many different ways to promote the cause of medicinal cannabis and hemp CBD.
“Our aim; to create a vibrant, high-quality, patient-centric and profitable industry for the UK.”
Prof Barnes highlighted the types of organisations best-placed to join, and these include:
- High THC Licensed Producers – importers and UK based companies who are striving for a cultivation license
- Hemp CBD bodies that represent the industry. (Not individual hemp/CBD companies as there are many, and we have no wish to duplicate the work of the existing hemp associations)
- Patient groups
- Cannabis clinics – existing and aspiring cannabis clinics
- Dispensaries and importers – existing and aspiring cannabis importers and retail pharmacies
- Professional bodies
- Education providers
- Charities and research groups
- Infrastructure bodies
- Lawyers and Insurers
- Parliamentary bodies
He went on to say it would ‘welcome representatives from the Medicines & Healthcare products
Regulatory Agency, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Home Office, adding: ” The above is by no means a definitive list – all suggestions are welcome.”
Declared CIC supporters, to date, include; Drug Science Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society, Primary Care Cannabis Network, Maple Tree Consultants, Prohibition Partners, BusinesCann, Cannabis Health Magazine, APPG on Drug Policy Reform,Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, Tendo Consulting, Global Regulatory Services, Women in Medical Cannabis Leadership UK, Health House, Clear, CannaPro, PLEA, Alta Flora, Cellen, Grow Biotech, Cannabis Trades Association, British Hemp Alliance, Scottish Hemp Association, European Industrial Hemp Association, and Unyte.
The first scheduled meeting of interested parties is schedule for April 30 on Zoom. Prospective members being asked to submit their ideas and suggestions covering the remit of the CIC in a short survey. For further information visit: https://cannabisindustrycouncil.org/contact-us/