While it seemed like the UK was finally making progress regarding the policies surrounding CBD, there has been a setback with the CBD advisory board. Following the release of an industry guidance, two trade groups have left the panel.
It is unclear whether Charles Clowes, Director of the UK’s Cannabis Industry Council (CIC), and Kyle Esplin from the Scottish Hemp Association (SHA) were forcibly removed from the Secretariat Advisory Board (SAB) to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on CBD or whether they resigned. What is clear, however, is that they are no longer part of the advisory board.
The industry guidance proposal that is believed to have led to their no longer being part of the panel recommends the following, among numerous other policy suggestions that they disagreed with:
The proposal also suggests a fundamental change in the approach to the regulation of the UK CBD sector.
Unhappy Cannabis Trades Association (CTA)
The Secretariat Advisory Board (SAB) member Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) are complaining about the proposal, culminating in its executive directors Marika Graham-Woods and Sian Phillips releasing a statement claiming that the proposal is ultimately an “incomplete draft document.”
According to their statement, “The CTA has not changed position relating to Novel Foods, nor have we made a U-turn.” They also claim that Clowes and Esplin were expelled from the panel.
However, Esplin claimed in the letter he released on Sunday, June 26th, that he resigned from the board straight after Clowes did. These conflicting statements make it unclear if they left on their own accord.
Esplin unable to support Tenacious Labs
Tenacious Labs is a company that produces CBD wellness products under the Aux, Hoo Raa and Press Pause brands. They are also allegedly the secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group’s administration, representing companies in the CBD industry. In his letter, Esplin says that, although the SAB does not accept guidance from the CIC, they have given no alternative suggestions even though he has repeatedly asked for an explanation to clarify why positions changed and what the CIC can do in order to get support.
He says that neither the CTA, EIHA, nor the CIC has given any points regarding the mandate. He adds that it seems like the only position possible is to provide complete support to the secretariat’s upcoming report. Esplin says he cannot accept this or support Tenacious Labs as a single point of contact for the government. The lack of transparency in the process concerns him. “We have had regular meetings, often daily messaging, dinners, overnight hotel trips together, but still no mandate of what the group is actually aiming for or what we are supporting by giving 100% backing to a report by the Secretariat,” he said.
The CTA released its own statement, declaring their full support for the SAB. They believe unity is necessary to advance CBD businesses in the country. Without it, they can’t serve every stakeholder’s interests. They went on to add that Esplin has not apologised or retracted his statements and continues to oppose the CTA.
Attacks are now personal
Esplin claims that they treat his questions as disruptive and detrimental to the industry, and attacks have become personal. He has decided to step away as he doesn’t feel he can contribute in a meaningful way any more.
Esplin also believes that the voting structure suggested by the secretariat is “dodgy”. He thinks they are using it as a distraction to not answer questions. He also says that the votes given to the various bodies are not representative of the UK industry. Furthermore, he was suspicious that Tenacious Labs changed the wording in documents, and this suspicion has only increased with time.
What happens now?
Knowing how disappointing this would be for those waiting for a change in legislation, Esplin apologised for not being able to do more. However, he promised that the SHA remains the same and will continue with their aims for the CBD industry.
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