Mike Harlington is chairperson to The Cannabis Trades Association UK (CTA UK), who are currently the only UK centric trade association for the country. Working with all sectors of the hemp and cannabis industry to promote good practice, provide practical advice and ensure consumers of legal cannabis and hemp products have access to correct information.
Mike, as Chairperson to CTAUK, what is your purpose within the cannabis industry?
I’m the Chair as an independent, I have no commercial interest in the industry whatsoever, so far this has proved invaluable in working with the authorities. My role involves wearing many hats, dealing with the authorities, dealing with Members and dealing with the public, as so as an independent I can give my honest opinion. Something I couldn’t do if I was tied to a manufacturer.
Despite the UK CBD market thriving, both recreational and medical cannabis remains a distant dream. Is it a case of if or when for UK legalisation, whether it be medical or recreational?
We’re working with Policy Makers on the subject of Medicinal, my honest opinion is that it’s highly unlikely we would ever get recreational in the UK for a very long time. Medical is not a long way away I’m sure.
You currently have more than 200 members and still growing. What is required to register as a member with CTAUK?
At nearly 400 active Members now the CTA has never been difficult to join, sell compliant, legal and above all honest products, tell us who you are and ensure we can find you, if you do have a criminal record tell us, don’t hide it and expect us to know everything about you by the time we approve you. No company can claim to have been fast tracked through the application process, it takes time and we do our homework…if you meet our standards, then welcome aboard.
As regulators to the UK market, what are the biggest challenges you face on a day to day basis?
As the pseudo regulator the biggest challenge we find is still medical claims and inferences, never have I worked in an industry so keen to kill itself.
After that its those who continue to sell illegal products such as whole buds or flowers…these guys simply don’t get it that there’s no difference in the eyes of the law between these and proper cannabis…14 years in prison is a long time to consider your mistakes, mistakes you have been warned you are making…
With the European CBD market in full swing, legislation changes slightly from country to country. What difference in procedure or legislation does the UK market face when compared to the rest of the EU?
The fact is that most of Europe is working towards standardisation, as such the UK is still seen as the “gold standard” and so many countries are waiting for the laws here to change, the UK is notoriously slow to keep up with the latest trends in Policy and by working with them we are seeing huge movement, the UK’s particular problem isn’t making legalisation happen, it’s making it sensible and workable.
With so many grey areas regarding import and export on various CBD products across the globe; what can legally be imported and what is the process?
It depends on your view of legally!
Technically if you are within the EU you shouldn’t have any problems because you use the approved freedom of trade agreements between Member States, but from the US it’s almost impossible to reliably determine if an import (even THC free) will go through.
CBD isolate is perhaps one of the biggest commodities within the industry, yet there have recently been changes within the UK, it is reported that isolate imports are being seized at customs, why is this?
A distinct lack of knowledge by Border Force and the Home Office…something we’re working hard to address, eventually a landmark case will probably happen and the Authorities will sulk because they lose…
Regarding legal CBD products across the globe, what should both seller and consumer be aware of when purchasing legal products from overseas to ensure that they comply with local laws?
The biggest problems we see are still the absolute lack of understanding, just because you can buy something, it doesn’t make it legal. I can buy a kilo of cocaine, it doesn’t make it legal! Buy from CTA Companies, it’s the only way to guarantee that what you are buying is legal and safe.
With a close eye on UK products, what is your favorite UK brand and why?
I’d love to say I have a favorite, so many are pushing the boundaries and creating new products, I know most of my Members, part of what we do is ensure a very personal service, there isn’t a single company stands out as “the best” or my favorite…they all offer their own particular strengths.
GW Pharmaceutical, what impact are they going to have on the UK market within the next five years and more importantly, what impact will they have on your members?
I’ve been working very closely with GW for a long time prior to me even becoming involved with the industry, I know the guys that set it all up originally and consider what they have done to be absolutely pivotal for the industry. We work in very different industries to be fair and I expect them to have virtually zero effect.