CBD Brothers. One of the most innovative CBD brands in the UK.

It is safe to say that Ben’s journey is not that of your stereotypical CBD business founder!

Today we are chatting with Ben from CBD Brothers, taking a look at the fascinating way that he started his business and plans for the future.

Matt: Hi Ben, thank you for joining us. So, can you start things off by giving us a sort of rundown as to how and why you started CBD Brothers?

Ben: CBD Brothers was started in my garage as a concept to basically allow people to enjoy cannabis.

I used to be employed within the palliative care sector – I was involved at various levels of care for about 20 years. Palliative care was the most influential in the decision where I am now.

A lot of people I was dealing with were using cannabis as pain relief, spasm management, for a variety of different reasons. Just to make the end a little bit happier if that makes sense?

I started learning about CBD, how to do it and understand how it worked. From there, I was also quite keen on ensuring that the products that people were getting were up to a certain standard.

Where we come from in the Suffolk countryside it’s mainly kids on BMXs that were banging out this stuff.

With the best intent and will in the world, they were not that good at the quality side of things. You were often getting hash with lumps of plastic in it. I don’t know if any of you guys have ever seen that before.

Back in the day, you know, the old soap bar used to have a thread of plastic going through it, which was obviously there to up the weight a little bit.

But the quality was shockingly bad or the weed would be something that’s come off a boat from somewhere where it’s been pushed together and is, quite frankly, disgusting.

I figured I could do it better myself, I could, and I would. I was able to kind of help people, support people to find and source better products.

Through that, I then started investigating oils and old school methods of using herbs. Coming from a herbal remedy point of view and trying to get the cannabinoids into various different products.

The first thing I ever sold was balm with some coconut balm which I’d infused with cannabis oil. I used to give it to my elderly neighbours to help them do their roses in their gardens.

I used to have quite a good reputation in my village for helping people relieve arthritic pain and get some movement back. I also used to make my cul-de-sac smell very strongly of a cannabis and coconut by cooking up.

Matt: So, you weren’t hard to find then.

Ben: No, no. It was always quite kind of comical that you’d smell me coming before, or you’d smell where my house was before you’d actually see it.

I think I had about 12 cannabis plants in my garden, which was not the smartest move, but, at the same time, I figured what I was doing was quite important.

I needed the resources to be able to do the investigations and do what I do.

Obviously, I wouldn’t do that now because that’s illegal and I don’t need to. But at the time when I was young and dumb, it seemed like the best way of doing it, and to be fair, it worked.

One of the first products I sold was a balm that was from a local health remedy shop of mine. From there I just escalated, I started looking into it more closely. I started investigating what was good, how it was working and kind of built on it from there really.

Jonathan: Ben, is obvious you’ve got a very experimental mindset? Because when there was no one else doing it, there’s no big business behind it, it can be tough. It is a question of actually really doing it from the grassroots – having the idea is great. What can we do with it? How can we use it?

Ben: I think we were one of the first companies to start doing it.

I think there might have been two others that were also sort of there. But because we were doing it in the way that we were doing it, we were making a lot more waves, a lot more issues and attracting a lot more attention.

I mean, we would have stories in a Daily Mail that are still traceable now, helping people with sciatica. Yeah. We’ve always tried to push it out a little bit, sometimes not in the best way.

Just getting the news out there and trying to get people to understand that this is a genuine bona fide thing that is very helpful. It’s not a placebo, it’s not a one-off, and it’s not the latest health fad which it developed into.

This is a genuine herbal medicine that needs to be taken seriously.

We would find ways of getting into the mainstream with ease of use through CBD capsules and things like that. We were the first to do quite a lot of things!

Matt: As you kind of described there, you’ve been very much at the pointy end of the CBD market. Have you had much involvement with the FSA and any sort of government authority?

Ben: Oh, yeah. I mean we’ve seen both sides of the spectrum. We applied for a Home Office license to grow hemp on our field. Well, we had our local Home Office advisor come out and he looked almost shocked when he saw what was going on – the extent of what was happening.

About seven years ago, like a lot of other CBD companies, when they started noticing what was going on, we received a package that was from the MHRA. They had gone through all of our products, all of our blogs, all of the newspapers, everything that had ever been published about us, everything we’d ever published.

They must have gone through about 20 different highlighters to tell us what we weren’t allowed to say. There was lots of content we had to remove from the website and redo everything.

Off the back of that, instead of retreating into this kind of them and us, we went down to the MHRA offices and discussed things with them.

We talked to them about what we could and couldn’t do. They pointed us in the right direction where we know what we’re doing.

On the cusp of kind of a new thing but it was also a kind of a grey area. We were very much intent on turning that grey area into a very clear, bright area where, people would understand what was going on.

Whenever we’ve been approached by agencies from the FSA to the Home Office to the MHRA, we’ve always built on that. That’s kind of the reason why we were able to get into and discuss it the way we did with the Guernsey government.

We sat down at a table with the elected members of the official government, including their health and social minister.

We put a presentation to them which explained the benefits on multiple levels of cannabis with the economic one being the main one. That is what basically drives governments.

Matt: So Ben, do you want to take the conversation on a bit and talk to us about the range of products that you’ve actually got within CBD Brothers today?

Ben: I mean, our range, it varies. We’ve got your standard oils, we’ve got your capsules, we’ve got patches and we do bombs.

We have our clinic in Guernsey and we’re opening up a clinic in the UK in about three to six months, if all goes well.

We want to make our own blends at some point but we have a range of products available today.

Matt: Presumably the experience you had when dealing with the Guernsey government will help when dealing with UK authorities?

Ben: Yeah, I mean, it’s given us a nice and friendly introduction to government workings without having to deal with the almost, and I mean, no disrespect to this, the bureaucracy that goes on in the Home Office.

It’s just faceless people that have a list of things that they do, and they’re very strict about what they do.

There’s no leeway there, there’s no working with them. It’s, I mean, sorry, that’s not right. We work with them, but they have a very strict way that things have to be done.

In Guernsey, the government were instrumental in helping rewrite new legislation. We were helping rewrite the licensing laws.

So we actually, as a company, I wrote the license that was then put into play to allow people to grow medicinal cannabis on the island.

So yeah, I mean, it’s been an interesting and eye opening few years!

Jonathan: I just going to say, in terms of CBD you’ve got a huge depth of experience and been involved in all sorts of areas. Less visible if you like to the consumer.

From a consumer’s perspective, what do you think is unique about CBD Brothers in terms of what you offer and how you work?

Ben: I don’t know if there are many other companies that are using British cannabis. Growing, producing, extracting, and doing everything for themselves when we’ve always done that. I mean, we have labs where we do testing and we are going through ISO accreditation at the moment.

As a genuine seed to bottle company it’s interesting to look back at when we started in my garage. We haven’t gone and taken someone else’s product and then rebadged it or repackaged it as our own.

We’ve our core CBD extracts and CBD oils, all done by us. As far as I know no one else does this. What you see is what you get with us.