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Marc Burbidge on entering the CBD industry and predictions for 2022

CBD innovator Marc Burbidge speaks to Cannabis Wealth about his experience of entering the industry, using CBD for pain relief and his predictions for the industry in 2022.

B3 Labs is a premium white label CBD company in the UK that specialise in producing unique products for their clients. The company was started by Marc Burbidge who has over 12 years of experience in the cannabis sector. He developed a passion and deep knowledge about CBD after he struggled with a shoulder injury that meant he was using opioids to cope with the pain.

B3 recently became the first CBD product manufacturer in the UK and Europe to be awarded a Brand Reputation Compliance Global Standards (BRCGS) certification twice. The BRCGS certification was awarded to the company in October this year. It acts as the gold standard in food product manufacturing, including CBD.

Marc has personal experience of how cannabinoids may help with pain. He quickly recognised the potential of CBD, different strains and terpenes to benefit health. He used his experience as a starting point for learning more about the plant, strains and developing B3 Labs.

“When I was eighteen, my shoulder started to dislocate leading to an operation when I was 21. However, after that, it started to dislocate regularly even in my sleep. I would be given gas and air for a couple of hours or injected with morphine. I was also given propofol which is an anaesthetic.

“I was pumped full of painkillers like naproxen, morphine and all of these weird things. During the hardest moments in my life, that was happening twice a week. I was living off opioid painkillers while doing a very straining job as a store manager working 60 hours a week with two children at home.”

CBD, herbs and help

While Marc was a CBD consumer, he also relied on THC as well. He began to develop an interest in cannabis cultivation, genetics and strains. He wanted to develop high CBD cultivars which had enough THC in them to replace morphine in terms of pain relief.

He said: “Psychologically, they were causing me a lot of anxiety and depression at times especially the morphine. Opioids don’t agree with me in the slightest and I would feel absolutely awful. This was happening once or twice a week where I’m on a seesaw of opioids and drugs as well as having three operations in my late 20s. One of which was a full shoulder reconstruction.

“I studied herbal medicine which took me down the route where I made the decision to follow my dreams to study cannabis. That takes me to where I am now, making products with CBD and herbs.”

B3 Labs offer a comprehensive collection of products including their unique tincture blends. They offer a range of tinctures that utilise the benefits of different terpenes including myrcene, citral and limonene.

Marc also wanted to have more options than just cannabis flowers and smoking. He wanted to develop other mechanisms such as tinctures or vaping devices. Ultimately, he wanted to find a cleaner method of consuming either CBD or THC at the right ratio without the combustion element.

This led to his development of e-liquids, different types of distillate carts, types of emulsions and tinctures. He began building different terpene blends to go into products with various cannabinoid ratios for energy or relaxation.

“I was introduced to the managing director of a subsidiary of a pharmaceutical company looking to move into the CBD space. I built their CBD division from scratch doing research, development analytics, quality management and manufacturing for six months.”

Marc Burbidge: how I built my CBD brand

CBD industry challenges

Marc felt the time and experience was valuable but it left him wanting to take on more of his own work. He began consulting for other companies before approaching investors to start building his own company.

While he had technical knowledge about the plant and the development of different products, the CBD space can be difficult to navigate. Regulations around different products or ingredients, marketing restrictions and the introduction of novel foods have made it an ever-changing challenge.

Marc said: “It’s been challenging for all of us in terms of building the knowledge, having good people around the company and the right team to get a good novel food strategy in place. The biggest challenge that we find is the delay in the release of the list because when you spent a lot of money on stability testing and regulatory work then it creates a cash void.

“You input a lot of time, energy and money into doing this where you hope your clients can trade freely. Many of the clients we work with have listings waiting to go live but the whole thing gets put on pause. Ultimately, you are running a business waiting for this moment in time to come but you don’t know when.”

The delay to the list going public has a further effect on business plans, forecasting and managing cash flows. All of which businesses have to juggle while waiting for confirmation. While most brands are very realistic about the need to have more regulations in place, they do have concerns about how it has been implemented and the delays.

Marc explained: “I am in support of what the FSA is doing around novel foods but I would like to see more understanding about full-spectrum products work and how people can benefit from these. How can we as a nation bring more legality to full-spectrum products because, in my experience, they benefit people more.”

There are more challenges for businesses than just the introduction of novel foods. COVID, lockdowns and Brexit have created an incredibly difficult environment for brands to navigate. While Marc acknowledges that COVID has been challenging due to staff shortages when you are running a manufacturing facility, he says investing in people can also be tough.

“Another challenge is building a business quickly with the right structure and way of working. You go from being a startup to a company that turns over a couple of million pounds by its second year of trading. That means you have to hire a lot of people who may not have the necessary skills or qualifications but you build or mould people into what you hope they can become.

“Growing this team together has been an absolute pleasure. My background in coaching and developing people was number one on my agenda at all times. I wanted to be able to carry that philosophy through. It’s challenging but also hugely rewarding.”

Marc is incredibly proud of his team and what he has achieved in the industry. He feels emotional at the thought of how he has built a brand from scratch when he was told at the beginning it wouldn’t work.

“Seeing the things I was so passionate about becoming a reality when almost every person I knew told me it wouldn’t work. There were challenges on the way but seeing it come to fruition and our clients using my products and selling to a broader range of consumers is incredible.”

He concluded: “When I stop to think about it, it takes me aback and makes me quite emotional.”

Marc Burbidge: how I built my CBD brand

CBD predictions

When it comes to industry trends for next year, Marc believes it will be the year where terpenes and blends become important, along with CBG.

“When I came into the industry, it was all about herbs, terpenes and different cannabinoids for me. When I spoke about this, people looked at me like I was a bit odd but this is exactly what’s happening now.

“Another key area will be the innovation in encapsulations, increased bioavailability and potentially more growth in the drinks. That’s where I see the industry wanting to go but whether the regulatory framework will allow it to go there is another question.”

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