FOLLOWING a week of turmoil with the loss of two of its most senior figures Europe’s leading trade association has a new head.
Sian Phillips, of CBD firm Fiddler’s Elbow Grease, has taken responsibility as Interim Managing Director of the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA).
Speaking to BusinessCann she said her initial goal is ‘to protect the interests of the staff and members’ of the near 1,000-strong business organisation.
The CTA has had a difficult week after asking Mike Harlington to stand down as Chairman, it then saw Compliance Director Tom Whettem resign.
Policy Review Imminent
Ms Phillips said she ‘will do what ever it takes to secure a successful future for the CTA and its members’ and this would involve a ‘comprehensive review of policies and activities’.
In a statement to members – see below for the full version – she said: “I was voted in by the board unanimously, to face the enormous and challenging task of picking up the reins.
“We are proud of our achievements and continue to lead the way as a focused collective … As a combined force, we have great strength and we are delighted that you are committed to us.”
Over the weekend it emerged Chairman Mike Harlington had been asked to step down from his post, after earlier agreeing to an extended notice period of one year.
This followed a disagreement between himself and Mr Whettem over the latter’s new business venture Access CBD – a budget-priced CBD brand.
It then emerged that on Wednesday evening Mr Whettem had quit the CTA.
In a brief call with BusinessCann Mr Whettem confirmed he had left the board of his own choice, saying he would be making a statement in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Mr Harlington has made his first public statement – which can be read in full below – and says he previously notified the CTA of his intention to work a year’s notice.
And continues: “But due to matter beyond the control of the current Board and myself I was removed as a Director and the Chair of the CTA on the June 10.
It continues: ”As of today, June 17, we have reached a working arrangement for both parties. As was originally promised I will assist and help ensure an effective and permanent transition and I will still be ‘around’ to answer questions, help members and facilitate the board.”
He goes on to say that he will continue the fight for the ‘whole cannabis plant’ and ‘actively and legitimately protect our industry from the threat to their livelihoods caused by the … FSA and indeed in our own industry’.
Novel Food Compliance
The boardroom bust-up at the CTA, which has members in 35 countries, emerged late last week in series of on-line posts.
Mr Whettem is one of the driving forces of the UK hemp and CBD industry as founder of British Cannabis and CBD brand Cannabidol.
One of the pressing issues facing the industry is the warning from the Food Standards Agency on the legitimacy of the CBD products on the UK market and the need to ensure Novel Food compliance.
Ms Phillips says this is one of the first tasks in her in-tray.
The remaining members of the CTA board are Jas Nottay, of Healthy Hemp, Simon Dusher, of CBD Life, Kees Valstar, of Healthy Plant Products, Phil Culbertson, of Love CBD and Finance Director Chris Lambert-Dowell.
Ms Phillips says it is now looking for new board members and a new Chairman. Mr Harlington had served as Chairman and MD.
Statement From Sian Phillips
As you may have heard, on Wednesday 10th June the board decided that Mike Harlington should step down following his notice of resignation to embark on a new path.
Mike remains an ally of the CTA and has promised his assistance with the Novel Food situation. He will still be on hand for some time to answer the questions that we know need answering and assist in the handover.
I was voted in by the board unanimously, to face the enormous and challenging task of picking up the reins. The extent of my predecessor’s work was extensive and unlimited.
It is going to take a little time to access all the information needed to have control and I hope that the members and industry can allow me that time.
This will also mean a restructuring of the organisation and the board. The administrative staff are to take on a more active role in the running of the Association with greater levels of two-way communication.
The CTA was never controlled by one person regardless of who was in the chair. The staff and board are professional, with good intention, and the members’ best interests as our focus. Collectively we are strong and are taking big strides to continue working for the industry.
We are proud of our achievements and continue to lead the way as a focussed collective.
Despite living in these unprecedented times, this is merely a blip in the grand scheme of things. As a combined force, we have great strength and we are delighted that you are committed to us.
Now is the time for dialogue. I look forward to our continued success together and you can email me with questions and suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Statement From Mike Harlington
As you are all I’m sure aware, very late last month I handed my notice into the CTA in order to further develop my own business interests and release to me the time they required.
As such I agreed that in order to support the transition I would work with the Board and staff to ensure a smooth and effortless transition period.
Due to matters both beyond the control of the current Board and myself I was removed as a Director and the Chair of the CTA on the 10th of June. At all times I have had constructive and agreeable discussions with many of the board members.
As of today, the 17th of June, we have reached a working arrangement for both parties.
As was originally promised I will assist and help ensure an effective and permanent transition and I will still be “around” to answer questions, help members and facilitate the board. I haven’t gone anywhere.
The CTA is now in a position to take forwards the ethics and principles that made the CTA what it is.
As such my four years with the CTA has been enormously fun, amazingly productive and crazily busy, I have covered hundreds of thousands of miles, attended tens of thousands of meetings with governments around the world, members, experts, medical boards and many other people.
At the heart of it is a passion for the whole plant. Because that is what the CTA is about. The whole plant.
As a part of this I have drawn around me several companies both internal and external to the CTA who have agreed to fight the common cause in the UK.
To actively and legitimately protect our industry from the threat to their livelihoods caused by the misguided and foolish within the FSA and indeed in our own industry.
The CTA must stand for all of you as the largest trades association for the cannabinoid industry in the world. I must follow my own moral and ethical compass which is strongly aligns with the CTA.
Thank you for a wonderful four years, it has been my pleasure to serve you all as the Chair and Managing Director. You have made me very proud of you all.