THE Cannabis Industry Council (CIC) is calling on both Conservative Party leadership contenders to enact a number of policy changes ‘in order to secure a Brexit dividend for the UK’.
In an open letter penned by the CIC, Cannabis Trades Association, Scottish Hemp Alliance and British Hemp Alliance, all members of the CiC, the group argues that a divergence from ‘stifling’ EU rules and regulations could allow the UK’s cannabis industry to flourish.
The letter is one of the first acts of the trade body’s inaugural CEO Mike Morgan-Giles, who took the helm at the CIC just last week, in a sign we could expect to see a boost in ‘lobbying and influencing’ activity from the organisation in the coming months.
Mr Morgan-Giles told BusinessCann: “I’m hopeful that I can build on what we’ve already achieved and try to speed things up.”
Yesterday (August 30) the group published letters addressed to both the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and current Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, currently bookies 1/20 favourite to become the next British Prime Minister.
In it, the group warns the leadership contenders that while the UK is already a ‘global leader’ in cannabis, ‘we are risking our global position due to EU regulation which hinders our ability to develop the UK’s own market, as well as making us uncompetitive abroad’.
It goes on to list a number of ‘bureaucratic and outdated’ EU rules which are preventing the UK’s cannabis industry from flourishing, urging the pair to commit to reforming these laws and implementing new, uniquely British alternatives.
With both candidates currently facing down the most significant economic downturn in decades, the letter emphasises the UK cannabis industry’s untapped potential to ‘improve people’s health, boost jobs, and create economic growth.’
Citing EU bureaucracy as a key factor for the industry’s hindered growth also directly references both candidates’ pledges on post Brexit strategy.
Mr Sunak, a long time Brexiteer, has pledged to launch a new ‘Brexit delivery unit’ which would review or repeal 2,400 EU laws if he becomes Prime Minister within the first 100 days.
Meanwhile Ms Truss, who voted to remain, has also pledged to review all EU laws on the basis of their contribution to UK growth, promising to scrap any that hinder investment or fail to support growth in the UK economy by 2023.
Mr Morgan-Giles explained to BusinessCann that despite the disruption and uncertainty, he sees the current leadership election as an ‘opportunity’.
“There are opportunities with the new government. I mean, both candidates have been quite clear, for example, about EU rules we’ve moved onto our statute book. Novel foods for example is one they may well listen to us on.
“But it’s always going to be a tricky one because it’s a very politicised topic. Even if you get into what appears to be quite technical discussions about agriculture or science, you know, things will almost invariably come back to politics.”
Specifically the open letter calls on the Government to ‘diverge from EU rules’ in two areas including Novel Foods regulation and the use of the EU Plant Variety Database to determine which industrial hemp seeds UK farmers can cultivate.
On the former, the group argues that the UK should be ‘exempt’ from EU Novel Foods Regulations which the UK currently uses to licence CBD products in its domestic market.
As for hemp cultivation, the group urges the government to allow non-EU seeds to be allowed under UK regulations, increasing both choice and competition and signalling the ‘potential of Global Britain’.
Mr Morgan-Giles was officially appointed as the CIC’s CEO on August 22, becoming the organisation’s first CEO since it was established in late 2021.
He will also become the CIC’s first full-time employee, with its executive committee to date running the body’s operations in tandem with other full-time commitments.
This will enable the organisation to ramp up its activities on numerous fronts, including communication and marketing, where the bulk of Mr Morgan-Giles’ previous experience lies.
During his career he has held a number of senior media and communications roles in various organisations including the UK Government and various trade bodies, most recently acting as Head of Communications for The Education and Training Foundation.
“A lot of my roles have been in those three main areas of communications, marketing and public affairs, which is quite a big chunk of the work I’ll be doing at the CIC,” he said
CIC Chairman Professor Mike Barnes added: “The CIC has gone from strength to strength in its first year but now has come the time to give it a boost in terms of growth and influence. I know Mike will be a huge asset to the CIC and the industry as a whole.”