A visitor to California in the late 1990s will have been struck by the sight of dispensaries openly selling CBD products. In recognition of its medical benefits, the state passed a law in 1996 legalising cannabis, and a major industry quickly developed: oils, capsules, drinks and other products containing CBD – a non-addictive, non-psychoactive molecules found in the hemp plant – soon lined the shelves of cafes and home kitchens, and dispensaries proliferated.
But over in the UK, things took a slightly different course. The UK government legalised CBD in 2018 on the back of evidence that showed its use as a pain reliever, a treatment for anxiety, sleep and more. But the growth of the industry was slow. Most CBD products were low in quality, tasted foul and were hard to come by. The lightning-quick evolution of the market in California should have provided a lesson for UK companies – and yet, for a time at least, it didn’t.
Gemma Colao had been living and working in California in the late 2010s, just as the CBD industry was gathering steam. Working as a designer in the fast-paced fashion industry in San Francisco, the long days, late nights and crazy deadlines were starting to take their toll. Each day, she would return to the home she shared with her husband, James Bagley, anxious and unable to sleep. The experience pushed her to look for alternative treatments, and a friend recommended she try CBD. She quickly came to understand why the industry in…
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