While the marijuana industry has garnered an enormous amount of attention in the United States, it had been flying under the radar in the UK until very recently. In 2018, Javid Sajid, the UK Home Secretary, announced that medical cannabis would be made legal to individuals with specific qualifying conditions.
This was great news both for those in need of weed to help a medical problem, and organizations such as the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) which has been working tirelessly to promote medical marijuana.
About the Cannabis Trades Association
The CTA was only founded in September 2016 by seven individuals who had developed their own CBD and hemp businesses. The CBD industry was unregulated at that point, but in October 2016, the group enjoyed news of an enormous breakthrough. The Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) stated that cannabidiol (CBD) would officially be classed as a medicine.
For the Chairperson Mike Harlington, Finance Director Chris Balmbert-Dowell, Marketing Director, Tom Whettem (who is also the CEO of Canabidol), and the association’s other members, it was a significant moment. Since then, the group grew exponentially and now has more than 300 Certified Members and 1,200 registered sellers.
The CTA claims to be the only UK-centric trade association for the hemp and cannabis industry. Its goal is to work with members of the industry to provide practical advice, promote good practice, and ensure that those who purchase legal hemp and weed have access to the best possible information.
The most important tenet of the CTA is to ensure that dubious businesses don’t ruin the good reputation of hemp and marijuana. All members agree to transparent trading conditions to ensure all members of the public understand who they are dealing with. Association members have also pledged not to make medical claims about marijuana or hemp, nor will they distribute medical advice. The members believe hemp and cannabis products can change modern life for the better, and they have all agreed not to denigrate one another’s business!
The Cannabis Trades Association’s Work
The CTA has held meetings with the MHRA and was told that the industry had to work together to maintain consistent standards and provide accurate and legal information. Otherwise, the CBD industry has no future. It is a message that the CTA has taken to heart, and they also work with the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Perfumery Association (CTPA), and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Mike Harlington was chosen as the CTA’s chairman because of his previous work with government regulated businesses. In his younger days, Mike was passionately anti-drug, but after researching the marijuana plant, he now believes it is criminal NOT to allow natural drugs such as weed to be used.
After almost two years of working with the MHRA, the CTA finally received an official endorsement by the MHRA in July 2018. The group works not only with the MHRA and FSA, but it also works with Trading Standards, the Home Office, and several other British authorities to ensure that professional standards are set – and met – in the legal marijuana and CBD industries.
The CTA’s work involves regularly liaising with the aforementioned authorities, guiding cannabis-related businesses, and they are also in the process of helping to develop the Cannabis Products Directive (CPD), a framework for the licensing and regulation of cannabinoid products.
This directive has been translated and sent to every member of the European Union (EU) by the European Food Safety Agency. It is optimistically believed that the CPD will become UK law by 2020 and ensure that marijuana licensing and regulation is handled by experts, rather than by the Home Office as is currently the case.
According to Harlington, there is still a lot of misinformation surrounding what the CTA does. He addressed the issue of membership. It seems as if a lot of people believe the organization should be free to join, but as Harlington points out, the CTA needs the membership fees to survive.
As well as spending several thousand pounds a month running the group, the CTA’s legal bill is over £100,000 per annum! Remember, the CTA needs to ensure that its members have access to the correct legal information. Then there is the small matter of the international travel required to meet suppliers around the globe.
Cannabis Trades Association Controversy
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the CTA. Back in August 2018, it was accused of making statements falsely claiming to be authorized by the States of Guernsey. According to the statement of complaint, written by the Office of the Committee for Health & Social Care (HSC), the CTA has incorrectly claimed to be involved in ongoing work undertaken by the States of Guernsey in relation to the medicinal hemp industry.
The CTA allegedly said it was working with Roland Archer, the States Analyst. According to the HSC, the CTA has only ever emailed Archer and had only recently met a member of HSC staff for the first time. The HSC went on to claim that no industry lobby groups of manufacturers or sellers were involved in the amendment of the Misuse of Drugs Law 1974 in Guernsey.
Hopefully, this is merely a misunderstanding. If the CTA is accused by other organizations of falsely claiming credit for legislative changes, or anything relating to the marijuana industry, it will undoubtedly lose its credibility.
Final Thoughts on the Cannabis Trades Association
There is no question that the UK, and every other nation in the world for the matter, needs a group like the CTA to go to bat for the marijuana industry. Although it was only founded a couple of years ago, it has already had a significant impact on the cannabis and hemp industries in the UK.
It is already Europe’s biggest Hemp and Cannabis Association by membership, and it now benefits over 1,500 businesses. We believe there will soon come a time where almost every hemp and cannabis agency is represented by the CTA. One thing is for sure – the Cannabis Trades Association is only going to grow; the determination and work ethic of its founders guarantees it.