Podcast Interview Transcript: Cannabis - A Historical Context with George McBride

[02:45] ANUJ Today, I'm really excited to have George McBride here as my very first guest. George is CEO of Hanway Associates, a London based consultancy focusing on cannabis research, corporate advisory, communications and events. He was formerly a policy director at Volteface, which is a drugs think tank, and he's a leading figure in the nascent UK cannabis industry. George is the perfect first guest to kick us off. So George, welcome.

[03:09] GEORGE Thank you very much for having me - it's a pleasure.

[03:11] ANUJ So, obviously before we get involved in a bit more detail about the cannabis industry, I was just wondering if you give it a bit of background on who you are, where you came from, what you do.

[03:19] GEORGE I am, like you said, the CEO of Hanway Associates but I've taken quite a circuitous route to get there. I initially practiced as a commercial barrister - that was my original career. So I studied law and went straight into the bar after my university. Didn't really enjoy practicing commercial law, I'd always wanted to be a criminal barrister. I'd always been interested in drugs policy and drug laws back from when I was a teenager but there was no money in the industry, my parents had to sell their house. I panicked and decided to take the money - the difference between a £15,000 starting salary and a £60,000 starting salary was quite appealing at the time, after years of being broke as a student. But I didn't last long in that career. Then I ended up being a travel consultant at Harrod's advising the Al Sauds on their holidays - did a lot of travel. And then set up a startup with friends and was doing political polling for the 2015 election. Realised I was more interested in policy, politics and public affairs, but I didn't continue in the public polling. Left, traveled again for a while. And then I was in Nicaragua practicing my Spanish and I saw a job at the Beckley Foundation, which is run by Amanda Fielding who has been a leading voice in drug reform for decades and decades and I always kind of admired the work they've done. The Research into medical applications of psychedelics and pushing cannabis research when nobody was doing it. And they wanted a legally educated person with a working proficiency of Spanish. And I was in Nicaragua and I thought 'this is for me'. For sure, I'm going to take this job and I went and joined Amanda. Helped her with her work with Robin Carhart Harris and David Nutt, on the trials into medical applications of LSD that they were doing at the Beckley Imperial project at Imperial College University. And then from there met Paul Birch and Steve Moore who were setting up Volteface. Paul was a wealthy tech entrepreneur - one of the cofounders of Bebo who made his money doing that and decided to move into philanthropy and wanted to push forward drug reform, in particular cannabis reform. He hired, initially myself, with my legal background, Alastair Moore, who's a creative with an events background and design background, and Dr. Henry Fisher who is a chemist, who also worked at the Beckley Foundation with an interest in drug policy, and Callum Armstrong who's now a musician. But the other three of us - Henry, Alastair and I - worked at Volteface built that from a magazine through to an event space and a physical hub for everybody who was looking at cannabis to come, and work together in a co-working space and move that right through to a campaigning organization that went on to lead the campaign for Billy and Charlotte Caldwell and the fight for access for Billy's medical cannabis. But during that process, Alastair, Henry and I co-founded Hanway Associates because we've got a lot of interest from people working in the cannabis industry about what was going on in Europe, needing advice. So we set up the company.

[07:13] ANUJ Great - so I need that advice because I'd like my listeners to find out more about the cannabis industry so I think it sounds like you're the perfect person to speak to! So, the purpose of this first episode is to give a historical context on cannabis and what happened before and what's happening now. What were the sort of examples of how cannabis had been used in society because it wasn't always illegal and deemed harmful?

[07:34] GEORGE No - the prohibition of all drugs, and cannabis in particular has, although it seems from most people's perspective at the moment to be the norm is actually a strange and short period in the whole of human history. We have records of cannabis being used for medical purposes going back thousands of years, and the prohibition of cannabis only started in the 19th century and to a large extent only really started in the late 20th century, although it's roots are in Victorian colonial era. So, for thousands of years it was used by different people. The cannabis plant comes from Central Asia and the Indian sub-continent and there's a long history of recorded medical uses in Chinese cultures, Indian cultures and other Asian cultures and peoples from thousands of years ago. And then we know the hemp plant has been cultivated for at least about 10,000 years for industrial uses and quite probably for a psychoactive and medical properties as well.

[08:49] GEORGE So there's a really long history of use of cannabis. But from most people's perspective in the modern era cannabis was sort of re-discovered in terms of its medical applications in the 1830s by an Irishman called William O'Shaugnessy, and it was his traveling to India and seeing the way in which people use the traditional preparations, like bang, which is an edible form of cannabis to treat various conditions that then led to it being a very popular medicine in Victorian Britain, before it kind of fell out of fashion, and out of use by doctors, for a range of reasons: because they were more synthetic drugs that have been invented; the hypodermic needle became very popular and you can't inject cannabis; opiate derivatives were being far more popularly used. So cannabis kind of fell out of fashion. It was very hard to dose, because it's a plant extract, people hadn't really understood how to perfect the art of growing plants for medical purposes of quite differing yields and contents from one flower to another so you couldn't get a reliable form. And then obviously there's the whole history of its prohibition before it was rediscovered back in the seventies and eighties, particularly with the advent of the AIDS epidemic and people realizing how important it could be with people suffering from HIV and AIDS to help alleviate that condition. Not as a curative but as a palliative measure.

[10:33] ANUJ That's really interesting, particularly the Victorian thing. I think I read something that the Queen Victoria herself used it?

[10:40] GEORGE For menstrual cramps, so the story goes, although it's disputed as to whether it's true. There certainly were a lot of people in high society in Victorian Times using it for that application and others. Obviously we know now again, there's a whole range of medical applications of cannabis. We've still got the problems that they had in the Victorian times, which is it's hard to standardize this very complicated plant that contains hundreds of active compounds. We don't still quite know which formulations work for which conditions at which dose. Often it is still easier for some people just say, oh, I'll give you morphine for your pain. Which is what started happening in late Victorian times. But yes, people wouldn't think how popular it used to be as a medicine. It had a whole range, and people were really excited about it in the 1830s through to the 1870s.

[11:39] ANUJ Very interesting, so as you alluded to prohibition is a relatively recent and short period of time in the whole history of cannabis. When, when was actually made illegal and what was the process and the main reasons that it became illegal?

[11:53] GEORGE Well, the main, principle reason is racism. So the way in which it started to be prohibited was in colonial era when there were various different peoples who were moving around the British Empire, or being moved around the British Empire who already used this for recreational and medical reasons. The British often then didn't like the use of it in their colonies where there was a perception that it might corrupt the white community or that it might lead to misbehaviour from ethnic communities. So, for instance, the indentured servants from India brought their Ganja to the slave colonies in the Caribbean and it was banned in those areas often because there was perception that it might affect the output of the colonies, plantations etc. And then kind of pockets of regional prohibition came around. And then it wasn't until the early 20th century that we started seeing the main controls of other substances on a global scale, which started thanks to the opium wars and again fears around racial bias, because in the west coast of America there were a lot of East Asian workers building the railways who brought their opium to smoke and there was this widely believed perception that the men would then be a risk to white women, if they were taking this drug. And then a lot of this actually comes from the way in which Europeans used alcohol during their colonialisation of other parts of the world. There were places in the Americas where we would deliberately only trade with alcohol as opposed to with anything other of value other than alcohol, because it would lead the people becoming dependent on those white traders. It would then disintegrate their communities to some extent by giving them drug dependencies on which they would then rely on the traders so it would give higher bargaining power. So we used alcohol as a tool to help disintegrate and destroy populations around the world. And then there was this fear that these other communities would be using their drugs to do the same to us. So that was the main thrust of why it was banned, as opposed to any perceived harms to the user, or health risks. I think most people these days assume that drugs are banned because they're dangerous and that just has never really had anything to do with it really. It's a perception that that's what it is.

[14:34] ANUJ Well that's the propaganda I suppose that's been used?

[14:36] GEORGE Yes exactly. And most of that comes from the 1960s and seventies, which is the advent of modern prohibition, the drug war, the attempts to actually, not just restrict and control the trade, but there was this stated objective of trying to make a drug free world. And what they meant by that was conducting aerial crop eradications, full blown wars around the world to try and destroy crop production. And through that process all that was managed to be done under those Nixon and Reagan era policies was to rapidly increase the rate of drug use around the world. And during that time, cannabis went from something that had been used in different communities around the world at relatively low levels, to by far the most popular elicit substance in the world, with hundreds of millions of users around the world. So it didn't work.

[15:36] ANUJ And so whilst you say that in the 60s was when the prohibition was in full swing, when it did actually start, when did it officially become legal? I assume that it came from the US and that spread around the world in terms of illegality.

[15:50] GEORGE Yes, so the main routes. There are three UN drug conventions, which incrementally added layers to the prohibition and the control of drugs around the world. They made exceptions for medical uses for certain drugs, but cannabis was put in the group of drugs which they deemed to have no medical value and high potential of abuse. And even at a time at which this was done by the UN, this was obviously incorrect. We knew that this was not the case. There were medical applications of cannabis. It doesn't have as high rates, and potential of abuse as that many other drugs. So, this was false and that happened, yes, through a US-led United Nations, from 1960 to 1971, as they produce those three UN drug conventions. That was the tool in order to enforce policies for prohibition on countries around the world rather than just existing prohibitions that existed in certain western countries. So that was a tool through which to pursue the drug war.

[17:05] ANUJ Yes, that's a big topic in itself, isn't it? And this could be a whole show in itself, but what do you think have been the main by-products of prohibition? What effects has it had on society in general?

[17:18] GEORGE Well, I think everyone, rightly, often normally talks about negative aspects which have been the main ones - this has been a way to strip communities of their traditional herbal medicines, to eradicate and erode their culture, to harm their ability to make a living. Hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of the wars which flowed from this. They turned a trade that was relatively niche and benign, into a trade that had no form of legal regulation. And when you are trading and there is no way to legally resolved disputes, the natural end point of that is violence. That is the way that humans resolve their disputes without the modern systems that we built by the law. So, the main result of the prohibition has been violence. On top of that, what it's done is made the products actually a lot more valuable. So, instead of actually reducing the demand for drugs, what you do is drive up the margins for the producers and instead of having a consumer controlled market, which is what you have predominately in free markets - you have consumers in control because they drive the supply through their demand - you have a supply driven market in which suppliers are pushing a product, which they have hugely high margins. So, it's increased drug use, it's increased levels of violence around the world. It's damaged cultures around the world. Most upsettingly I think for me, although the others would be more upsetting for other people, is the way in which it has restricted scientific investigation. It has been a ban on science, despite the fact that there has been some research into cannabis during prohibition. Most of it was only approved if you were trying to prove that it was dangerous rather than trying to actually explore how drugs work and how cannabis works. So that's been a huge prohibition on science.

[19:22] ANUJ Yeah, I think we're on the same page in terms of it being not a positive thing. And I think one of the things you talked about earlier was the racism angle, and I've read a lot about the fact that drug policy has disproportionately targeted and affected minority peoples and, particularly in the US

[19:41] GEORGE Well you said particularly in the US, and that's true to a certain extent because the US in general, not just for drugs, for everything, have incarcerated people at a much higher rate than we have there in Europe and in the UK. But actually in the UK, our drug laws are more disproportionately enforced against BAME people. So, even though less people were arrested and imprisoned, the discrimination is more pronounced in the UK and Release - a really great organization that provides support to people who've been affected by drug laws - they've done some really interesting research on that and demonstrated just how discriminatory is here in the UK. But, you've got that side of things. So you've got the historical roots of its racism - that this was about fears about other cultures poisoning our own, or damaging white people's influence or their business interests. That's the main historical roots of it, and even when you look at, all through that Victorian period we never really enforced drug laws in the UK. So we had the Misuse of Drugs Act and then a lot of the enforcement started after the Windrush when people from the Caribbean, some of them came over, some of them had a habit of using cannabis for recreational and medical or medicinal purposes, and there was police enforcement of that. And that's how drug enforcement really started in the UK - it was fears of alien cultures coming over, which is all kind of rather strange anyways. It's not an alien culture. Caribbean people were part of the British empire. They came over as British citizens. The ganja that they've been cultivating for hundreds of years was brought over by Indian indentured servants who were part of the British empire and bringing it to Jamaica, then bring it back to the UK. So there's been part of our culture the whole time, but there's a perception that is some sort of foreign culture. And then there is obviously just a wider issue within the criminal justice system that there is a strong racial bias at every single stage of the process, from how police enforce laws through to whether the crown prosecution service prosecute, through to the decisions that juries make and the decisions that judges make. Every single step of the criminal justice system is discriminatory, and quite radically so. So this is obviously racism as a much bigger issue than just drug policy. But drug policy has been a major tool in perpetuating racism definitely. But here in the UK we haven't really had like a drug war like they have in the US so I think a lot of people trying to legalize drugs here in the UK want to talk about the race issue, they want to talk about the drug war, and those are kind of abstract concepts for most British people. Most British people don't know people who have been involved in violence associated with the drug trade. Most people don't even know people who've been arrested for drugs. Whereas in the US, with 2 million people in prison, most people do know somebody who's been arrested for drug crimes. Most people have seen that there's been a shooting around the corner from them. Most people know about the tens of thousands of people who are being shot and murdered in Mexico on a yearly basis fighting over control of the drug trade. So the drug wars are much more like a looming spectre in the US and are therefore a much bigger part of the public narrative. And I think here in the UK, what people want to talk about is mental health; is access to medicines; is different issues when you're talking about drugs. The drug war, is a bit too abstract for most people.

[23:38] ANUJ It's one of the reasons for starting this show was hopefully to highlight how things are slightly different in the UK and Europe vis-a-vis what's going on in North America. And for a lot of the reasons that you say, and therefore the evolution of the industry is going to happen in a different way.

[23:55] GEORGE Yeah, it's true. You know, we've got these 80,000 people in prison and Americans have 2 million, so the criminal justice aspect of it is going to be a much bigger debate in the US and we have to find our own narratives here in the UK, and they're not often what drug reformers, or people who are passionate about these issues would like to be talking about. They'd like to be talking about the tens of thousands of people still involved in military conflict as a result of the laws here in our own country. But that just doesn't cut through unfortunately. So you've got to rally for different issues. I think it's now become a much more salient issue here in the UK that people know that there are medical applications of cannabis. They know that you can't get access through your doctor or through your pharmacists, and people are upset about that. And it's started to cut through because people want access to something that might give them a better quality of life. I think that is hugely important. So that's the main thing that people are talking about in the UK now.

[25:02] ANUJ For sure. But on a more positive note, things are changing. How, and why, are things changing now?

[25:10] GEORGE Yes, well we had the two big cases here in the UK - Alfie Dingley, and Billy Caldwell - two children with severe and debilitating forms of paediatric epilepsy, who had very public calls for access to medicines to treat them. So, I've been working with the campaigners on both of those different campaigns for long prior to having ever met Alfie or Billy or any of the other children who have been deprived of cannabis, and I think Billy's mother, Charlotte, has to take a lot of credit for the change we've seen here in the UK. She was really willing to put her neck on the line and be a public figure about this and really pushed the Home Office. I think internal Tory politics, played a big issue. The timing of this came when Sajid Javid was new to his job. When Theresa May was in a position of weakness. Theresa May was vehemently against any reform in this area. She has been consistently discriminatory towards people who use drugs throughout her career, as we've seen with the hostile environment of the Windrush scandal as well. And that cuts across the other issues that I've been talking about. Through her whole career, I think she's defended policies that have been racist and discriminatory in their effect. So she was always a big barrier to reform. But Sajid Javed was new to his job, he understood where the public sat on this issue, which was 88 percent support for legalisation of medical cannabis.

[26:52] GEORGE And he took a punt to defy Theresa May and say I'm going to legalise cannabis and realised that he wouldn't lose his job because if she sacked him, she was running out of allies. She would have been left on her own and she might have lost her premiership, even earlier than she's going to lose it now and become a disaster.

[27:14] ANUJ Defying Theresa May seems to be on trend at the moment.

[27:16] GEORGE So, it was brave mothers and sick kids, Tory internal party politics and, then the general shift in PR. I think one of the major contributing factors to legalisation in the US and all of the academic literature, time and time again it is the way in which cannabis is described in the media, which influences people's perception, which is kind of sad because the reality is that propaganda works. And when the drug war propaganda was, was in full swing in the 70s, that worked and most people developed a strong aversion and fear of using drugs - a nonsense term, that refers to a group of medicines that we decided people can't be trusted with. So, the PR, the brave mothers, the sick kids, and Tory party politics, all came together. And I'm really glad that we got the change that we were looking for, to a certain extent, but the reality is being that this was the utilization in name only, basically nobody has got access since they changed the rules.

[28:28] ANUJ And just to refresh everyone - the laws were changed such that specialist consultants are able to prescribe medical cannabis at their discretion?

[28:40] GEORGE Not at their discretion. If it was at their discretion then that would be great. The change to the regulation allows consultants, not GPs, to prescribe but on top of this list... So, they moved cannabis out of the schedule that says that it's got no medical value into the schedule where most kind of opiates sit, that say I've got some medical value, but they're also a bit dangerous. And then they changed that and they allow it, but they restricted it to only consultants being able to prescribe, which is a novel situation. They've never done that before. There's no real precedent for it. But then on top of that, it's been the guidelines that have been heavily restrictive. So, you can't just prescribe at your discretion if you're a consultant. In fact, they've made it a complete nightmare. There are pain specialists who would like to be able to prescribe it, but you have to go and get an opinion of one of your peers. You have to fill out a hundred forms. There's a very complicated process and the basic driving force, behind this is in order to ensure that it isn't prescribed, that is the way in which has been gone about. And there's some legitimate concerns in there - there aren't enough products of high enough quality at the moment. Medical cannabis is only been properly industrially legalised, in a few countries for a very short period of time. So, there's not the quality of the product and the volume of product that we would need. There are doctors that don't understand dosing. They don't understand the effect of cannabinoids in the body. They're not taught enough about your endocannabinoid system, which is the system in your body, which the chemicals in cannabis act on, which modulates everything from your mood, your sleep patterns, your immune response to a whole other range of things in your body. And we don't know enough about this yet. And so, to be using cannabis as a modern medicine is going to take decades, not years for us to get all the data that we need and to allow doctors to be able to prescribe it in the way that they do pharmaceuticals. But what the reform that's happening elsewhere in the world has been, it's been about appreciating that, but realizing that it does still work in this raw herbal form for a lot of people and just as a compassionate act, allowing them to access products so it wouldn't mean normal medical approval standards but are from a plant, are low risk, and we've been using for thousands of years. We know aren't going to kill people. And so letting them use it if they find a benefit to it, and that's the reform that we need here in the UK. Not... We'll get the cannabis medicines the doctors who can prescribe for the really, really severe cases of where people are using it for things like multiple sclerosis and paediatric epilepsy and we need more research there. But in the meantime we need a complete amnesty on a million people in the UK who are using cannabis for medical purposes already. This isn't like a normal pharmaceutical drug where, with good reason, they don't allow people to use it until it's gone through huge levels of approval, because things like thalidomide, and drugs can have strange consequences in the body that were unexpected. So, they go through really heavy approval processes for cannabis is different. There are hundreds of millions of people using it all around the world already. So, that we're just getting into the light, improving the quality of the products that people are using, improving the education and information around it and most importantly not arresting anybody for using it. We've still got got patients in the UK being arrested for using something on which they depend on, which greatly improves the quality of their life, and the British establishment aren't getting it. They don't even get the issues, they are not up to date with what the public want. The public were clamouring for medical cannabis, not for changing regulations to slightly shift the status of cannabis whilst still not allowing anyone to access to it. I get messages from dozens of people per week, desperately looking for ways to get access to reliable medical cannabis, so they don't have to be buying something that could be completely not what it says on the bottle from a drug dealer and it's a terrible situation.

[33:03] ANUJ Yes, I think it's quite obvious that whilst it's a small victory, there's a lot of work to do.

[33:09] GEORGE Yes, but it's the wedge in the door.

[33:13] ANUJ Yes, and from what I understand in a lot of countries across the world where there's been a change, it's often been as a result of a sick child. And you know, as a parent myself, I can sympathise that if I know there's a medicine that would work for my child's illness, just because the government, or someone tells me that it's illegal won't stop me from trying to get that. But it's obviously making things a lot more difficult.

[33:36] GEORGE Yes. Sick children are obviously the way... The way this issue changed is when it changed from being a question of "Do you think people should have access to medical cannabis?" To which, the British public largely went "Yes, but I don't really care". A Kind of a general ambivalence. To "a sick child has had his medicine confiscated from him - what do you think about that?" And there was outrage and it was on the front pages of newspaper for days in a row. So, you have to create those kinds of senses of outrage if you want to move something up the political agenda. But unfortunately in our democracy, unlike some others in states in America etc, there's no real way for us to just push forward this policy as people through a public ballot initiative or something like that. There's not much direct democracy here, so we have to do it through our parliamentarians, and they happen to be further behind the public on this and much more concerned about the risks of any change than they are about the potential benefits.

[34:36] ANUJ Yes it's very interesting and again, it'd be a huge topic that we could certainly talk more about. In your position is running a consultancy and obviously your background you're getting to see this emerging industry from a number of angles. If you had to choose one area, what area are you particularly excited about.

[34:51] GEORGE The bit that really gets me excited is the agri-tech. When people were forced to cultivate that cannabis in clandestine fashion, they started growing indoor under lights. Now, this is not something that people have done before really because obviously it's so cheap and easy just to chop down some trees, plant some seeds and grow something outdoors. That's what everyone had done and that's what we've done for millennia. And we've chopped down nearly all the forests now, and we've got seeds planted covering nearly all of the Earth. So, we're running out of space. But meanwhile, people have been growing cannabis under lights. Originally that had been a really energy intensive process. The lights produce a lot more heat than they did light. Growing plants was very difficult but then through cannabis cultivation practices now, we're now in a situation where people have developed incredibly sophisticated lighting and controlled environments in which you can grow crops in a perfectly standardised way, which you can't repeat outside. Because they're indoors you can control every aspect of the environment from the CO2 levels, to the oxygen, the light, every aspect of how the plant grows. And you can also create amazing systems like a of sort of a friend of mine, Rudy has a company called Seaweed out in British Columbia and he's got an aquaponics system with a salmon farm. Now you feed the salmon, the salmon swim around in their tank, their excrement and their waste comes out, it gets fed to bacteria. The bacteria break that waste down into nitrates, which is the food for the plants. The plants then grow in a really healthy, nice environment. And what you've got is a system which produces almost no waste, which has a very low energy usage and which the only inputs are fish food, and then out the other end you get salmon and cannabis. So really high value crops grown in a sustainable way with low energy input. And this is the future of agriculture. We need to produce our crops close to where people consume them because most of the carbon involved in the process is transport. So you need to grow crops where people use them. So this is technology that people have developed because cannabis became such a high value crop, because of it's prohibition and is the only reason that we've invented these amazing systems. But it's like in times of war is when we do all our inventing. So in this strife and in this really unfavourable situation, we've actually developed some really cool stuff. And what I want to see this go from cannabis, to go to cities being able to, instead of cities being these things that just suck the life out of the surrounding wildlife, being able to rewild areas where we currently farm and being able to repurpose our old buildings in urban environments and turn them over to agriculture and we're seeing it happen in New Jersey and other parts of the world and I think we're going to see a lot more of that. And that's what I want to get more educated on, and do more of that kind of work.

[38:09] ANUJ Very interesting, sustainability and environmental practices are very important now and no doubt that the new burgeoning cannabis industry will be live to that

[38:19] GEORGE And you can make better cannabis too because you've got a perfectly controlled environment.

[38:27] ANUJ Cool. So we're getting towards the end. One of the things I'm really interested in from a personal perspective and one of the reasons that I wanted to do a podcast was I'm very interested in how people transfer and transition into a new career, or a new industry. What advice would you have for anyone that's interested in the cannabis industry?

[38:46] GEORGE I've always had done things the hard way. So I've had quite a few careers for somebody - I think you're supposed to have five jobs in your life and I think I've already had about six careers and I'm 31, so I get bored easily. And I've normally done in this odd way and just flipped the table over from one career to the next. From working in construction, to being a barrister, to being a salesperson, to working in travel, to being a pollster, to being a researcher, to being a consultant. And so I just got bored and flipped the table over. But I know for a lot of people that would probably be quite daunting and it always involves going back to scratch in terms of pay because you have to start at the beginning like everybody else, you can't just... If you just care about ensuring that you are constantly improving the quality of your life and your income, you can't make big jumps into new industries, but there are ways you can do it by just getting involved. You can come to First Wednesdays - the event that Hanway Associates run, which has become really popular in London. Monthly cannabis industry meetup. You can come to our conferences like Cannabis Europa. You can read and learn you can take the plunge now. I think for people in the UK we still don't really have an industry because there's not legal consumers yet. Or there's only a handful, but London is a professional services hub of the world and you can do creative services for a cannabis company. You can help them with whatever your professional service might be. There is an application for it in the cannabis industry. I think that's one thing that people don't understand about legalization is people have been growing and selling cannabis since time immemorial and that won't change with legalisation. There's still people growing and selling it. What changes is that you now have accountants and lawyers and every other professional service that is involved in an ancillary way which means that everybody, gets to profit off the industry, not just the drug lord kingpin who owns the whole vertically integrated cultivation operation that does everything from growing it to distributing it, and to selling it. And then all the money just goes to one guy. Now we're going to have an industry where everyone could get involved and get a slice of the pie. So there's loads of stuff you can do for London to get involved.

[41:03] ANUJ That's great. I think one of the interesting things I found is these companies still need people to work for them and there was no such thing as deep experience in the cannabis industry because it hasn't existed. So, everyone's going to have to look very laterally in terms of how they hire people. And that's both from businesses but also from candidates. They both need to think outside the box in terms of what they can offer and what they're looking for.

[41:28] GEORGE And that's why I think at Hanway Associates, we have a really multi-disciplinary approach and we hire people with different backgrounds in different sectors, and different academic backgrounds because there are parallels with the cannabis industry, with dotcom boom. We've worked with a lot of people who were involved in that - First Wednesdays is a nod to First Tuesdays - the original networking event in London when everyone was setting up dotcom companies. Then as you know, the parallels with the e-gaming and the way in which online gambling really changed gambling and the regulations had to run to adapt, so everybody gambling online. There are parallels with the alcohol industry, there are parallels with tobacco industry there are parallels with fast moving consumer goods like soft drinks and food. So, there's all these industries and sectors and they all already have solved a lot of the problems that cannabis industry is now trying to solve. So all you've got to do is bring your insights from your industry, have an open mind, appreciate it's not the same industry. It won't be the exact same solution. But these aren't... a lot of people think that we're fixing novel problems. They're not novel, they are problems we fixed before, so just need to find people and put them in the right place.

[42:41] ANUJ I think that's great advice. Okay. So my final question, what did he tell you parents when you said you were working in cannabis?

[42:50] GEORGE Well they were really supportive actually. So, when I said that I was doing the job for Amanda Fielding at the Beckley Foundation and my dad was "Amanda Fielding - I know that name?" and he was racking his brain about it, and because he's older, he never thinks to just Google something, so racking his brain about it. And then he rang me and said, "oh I remember who she was, she was involved in that Tripanation campaign in the seventies", and my parents were big hippies in the seventies. There's photos of them with hair right down to their waists - both of them. So, my dad was really excited about it. He actually drove me to the interview because he was dying to see her house because he remembered her from the seventies as being, this quite outlandish and passionate voice about the potential of drugs as alternative therapies. So, my dad was super supportive and I think my mum has always kind of wished I just go back to being a barrister. She likes being able to tell her friends that I was a barrister, but ever since I've been popping up on BBC News, and getting involved in these public campaigns and writing in the papers and stuff, she loves it now!