The Story So Far Of The Leaf Elite, TLE:2018
Clare Navas, mother of two boys, has embarked on a life-changing journey for herself and those that surround her. She is currently launching her own, completely organic, full spectrum CBD & CBG hemp products to restore wellbeing for the mind and body.
“I fell in love with an amazing plant that changed my life. I am now dedicated to changing people’s perceptions of the industry by introducing them to a product that will help enhance their lives for the better. Working with local farms and qualified laboratories, and being a part of the process from seed to shelf, ensures optimum quality and consistency within the products. With the mission to bring back hemp in all its former glory using sustainable resources, my company, TLE.2018 was founded.”
An insight into Cannabinoids, CBD and its effects
CBD is just one of 118 recognized cannabinoids (active chemical compounds found within the hemp/cannabis plant). Each cannabinoid has a different effect on the body. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant that can give you the feeling of being high, this is the most common sensation associated with cannabis.
CBD and CBG are non psychoactive compounds of the cannabis plant which have received individual case study and general scientific support in regard to the alleviation and assistance of certain common medical dispositions. Some patients suffering anxiety, inflammation, chronic pain and insomnia have testified to the alleviation of known symptoms when combining or utilizing CBD based treatments.
Non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in hemp or cannabis plants can provide an amazing alternative for people who want seek relief without the unwanted side affects of the psychoactive high from THC. This is particularly useful in the more fragile biosystems of the young or elderly.
Furthermore there is a growing body of evidence from scientifically controlled clinical trials that suggest certain Cannabinoids and chemical compounds found to naturally occur in the cannabis plant target and assist with cancerous cells, reduce cell mutation and are successful at targeting a number of degenerative diseases affecting the human neural and immune systems. A simple google search will yield thousands of personal success stories which the pharmaceutical giants have been slow to acknowledge. The tide is turning however and this is now huge business, particularly in Canada and North America who, along with Israel and some other G20 participants, are creating a rapidly expanding economic subsector with huge employment opportunities and giant revenue growth. Make no mistake, this is serious business now and national governments are set to follow US states such as Colorado which enjoyed tax revenue growth north of $200m in 2016 thanks to CBD and the medical marijuana industry.
Even more amazing is the fact that until recently, scientists had not discovered the fact that each and every one of us has a system within our body called the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) which reacts to stimulation from the cannabinoid compounds contained in this magical plant. Dr Raphael Mecholeum (the man who identified THC as the compound that caused the psychoactive sensation) discovered the endocannabinoid system (ECS) within the human body. The ECS regulates a number of these functions including sleep, appetite, pain and the immune response system. The body produces endocannabinoids which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors - CB1 and CB2 - that are found throughout the body and central nervous system. When the phytocannabinoids of the hemp/cannabis plant and the endocannabinoids in the body interact they help maintain the body’s function and achieve homeostasis. It is for this reason that taking full spectrum CBD products can assist greatly towards attaining a balanced state of wellbeing for both body and mind.
The journey towards my ‘belief in the leaf’
We have all lost someone or at least heard of someone losing their life to cancer. In 2016 I lost two people I knew, both were mothers of four. One of them was lucky enough to prolong her life by a few months with the use of cannabis oil. My research into the hemp/cannabis plant started here by engaging with websites and forums, and purchasing books online in order to delve deeper into the subject. The hemp plant and cannabis plant are of the same species but are very different in looks and appearance (much like a lion and a domestic cat are in the same family). I gathered information regarding the healing properties of the plant. I started researching into the benefits of medical uses of the cannabis plant towards healing various serious and untreatable conditions.
In March 2017 my friends flew over from New York, they had just invested in a company in California where it was legal to grow. They were creating various products which were being used to help treat a variety of serious medical conditions. The green rush had already hit the US with some force and the government had begun legalising the sale of cannabis in numerous states. The industry was growing fast and my contact was sure that Europe was going to follow suit quickly. The climate in Spain and in California are similar therefore perfectly for growing hemp.
The cannabis plant is estimated at being around 21-27.8 million years old. It was used to treat Chinese emperors and kings, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were both hemp farmers, and Queen Victoria was treated for her menstrual pain with cannabis tincture. It was (and is today) also used to make rope for fishing and building throughout the ages, across the continents. The plant grew anywhere and was used widely in food and medicine. Up until the 1936 prohibition of Marijuana (led by Harry Anslinger, first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics) it was available in every pharmacy. When the prohibition was put into effect there were many people who hadn't previously realised that this “Marijuana” was actually the same plant from which their trusty cannabis tinctures were derived. Once the two became related that was the end of mainstream cannabinoid use for health and wellness.
Fighting the fight
My journey continued and I was later invited to California to visit the farm I spoke of and the new laboratory that was being built. It was incredible to witness over 100,000m2 of cannabis plants being meticulously grown under specialised lighting, all being supervised by an interesting mix of scientists and Californian hippies. They not only had an indoor area for medical cannabis but they also had outdoor farming. This was precision cultivation on an industrial scale using state of the art equipment and technology. It was here I began to learn about the different strains of the plant. They were breeding genetics that were treating specific diseases and even strains that were designed with children and older people in mind to contain higher levels of CBD.
This experience gave me great insight in how this could be run on a professional level. There was no waste from the product every part of the plant was used for something. It was an environmentally friendly and bio degradable. By actually sowing these seeds in the soil you could actually reduce CO2 pollution. This was really fantastic and left me inspired.
I found an investor who was equally driven to bring this knowledge and amazing product to Spain. It was all about to happen and the deal fell through leaving me in a stagnant and stressful position of needing to find new backing. Around the same time my marriage had begun to suffer and I had to make the incredibly difficult decision to break away from my husband of seventeen years. I moved into an unfurnished flat with my two boys, and had to make the best of things with the support and donations from my family and friends. It was through these incredibly tough times that I became all the more determined to make a positive impact in the world. My passion for this miracle plant led me to believe that I could actually help people; that by bringing people information and making them aware of this amazing product I could change peoples lives for the better.
I didn’t give up, instead I found a new passion in life teaching yoga and selling home cooked meals to make ends meet to give me time to construct a solid business plan. I have always been a keen cook, making everything from scratch, and so introducing hemp seeds to the flapjacks and protein powder to my cakes was a great way to integrate my ideas. I have always recognised the importance of food, nourishment and wellbeing, and whilst breastfeeding my first born son, my admiration for all things natural and the belief in a healthy balance between mind body and spirit enhanced all the more.
During this road of discovery I met a number of weird and wonderful people within the industry; doctors and scientists here in Spain making their own experiments with the cannabis plant. I investigated the legal issues within this country, I knew there was a laid back culture in regards to cannabis but needed to know what was available to me as far as industry was concerned. I contacted a lawyer with experience in the hemp industry and this is where things began to progress.
The CBD market had already kicked off in a big way in the UK, there was more awareness and the media was making references to the cannabis industry. There was a case of a mother bringing cannabis into the UK to treat patients with epilepsy. So I knew that there was a market to enter and began to think that finally my marketing and business degree was going to be of value! CBD was legal and I needed to know how to get involved.
I saw the market opening up, I just needed to find my way in…
Excited with fresh aspiration that the movement was taking place I went to the cannabis fair in Barcelona in March 2018. This was full of the most amazing stalls selling everything you could imagine, from seeds to tractors and machinery. Music was blaring from the coffee shop stalls and everyone was having a great time. Peace and love vibes flowed all around the arena as did the aroma of cannabis in the air. The atmosphere was great but the CBD products were disappointing. None of the stalls that were present had any products that were made on Spanish soil. The samples I bought were all grown on an industrial scale made for mass market production. The branding was nowhere near as polished as those available in the USA and there was very little product choice or information regarding where it was from or how it was produced.
I had found an opening in the market. Why was there nothing organic? Why was there such a lack of information regarding the soil or mineral content? All I kept thinking was “I can do this better”.
I felt empowered. I knew a lot more than any of the people I was meeting; even the managers of the stalls couldn’t answer all my questions. I knew that if I could use my wealth of knowledge and my connections in the USA, I could create and deliver a superior-quality, organic, Spanish brand onto the market, I would have my dream business.
Making It happen…
I returned from Barcelona on a mission to start something locally in Málaga. I drove up and down the coast visiting farms that grew hemp or CBD strains of cannabis. Sometimes it was a bit daunting as many were not growing legally and either not having obtained the correct licence or were not using the correct laboratory facilities and procedures to make their product. It was a pretty hair-raising time and, being a mother of two beautiful boys, I knew I had to be careful who I became involved with. On the other hand, being female got me access to places that were normally off limits and I got to see first-hand what was going on in these particular places.
Someone then put me in contact with a large land owner in Marbella. They had told me that they had heard of my project and would give it to me at a good price, starting with a simple deposit. This was 25,000m2 of land unused for seventeen years which meant the soil should be nutrient-dense and therefore a good plot to begin cultivation.
I looked at the land and knew immediately; I needed to sow hemp. I searched for people that could help me which lead me to get in touch with the smoking club in Marbella, Sticky Fingers. This was a private member’s club run by a man who had helped prolong his father’s life with the use of cannabis oil. It was through this club that I met my potential growers. There were lots of people now buzzing around me having heard I was looking for land and trying to start up a project.
A friend from London introduced me to a scientist from the UK who worked with hemp specialising in the functions of cannabinoids and terpenes and their impact on the body and mind. He had been researching into CBG and impressed me with his knowledge so I arranged for him to fly over to start up the operation with me. The land I had previously viewed became unavailable plus the security wasn’t up to scratch. I was then offered some land in Almogia, again problems arose. I was starting to face barriers, but that would not prevent me from moving forward.
I had the scientist flying over from the UK but no land to work on. Dilemma. I surfed the internet where I found a page for an area in Málaga which was encouraging entrepreneurs into the region. Bingo, I would bring my idea to them. More obstacles arose (wrongly scheduled meetings, language barriers, people not showing up, etc.), but nothing I couldn't climb over in order to keep going.
At one meeting with the mayor, architect and agriculture minister, and my scientist who didn’t speak any Spanish, I literally had to explain what the hemp plant was, what it could be used for and the fact it looked like cannabis (a banned substance) and they had no previous knowledge of any of it. I explained that by growing this plant we could bring potential employment into the town. I showed them my plan and tried to get them to understand what we could actually do with this amazing product from construction, medicine and even bio fuel and compare our growth in comparison to France who is currently the largest cultivator of hemp in Europe.
They told me that it would be eight months before we could have any feedback… this was a big knock back and I was becoming deflated. The government route was going to take up to three years to get going, so I would have to pursue other avenues until this time or simply stop.
In the face of adversity…learn more
The European Hemp Association was holding their annual event in Germany so I booked to go to the two-day conference. These were the people that run the industry in Europe and I knew that this would be the best place to get information regarding the equipment, new processes, laws and legislation. Cologne was incredible and I was lucky enough to meet the head of the Indian hemp association.
He informed me that they were cultivating hemp on 200,000 hectors in India; they are even constructing the first shiva temple of its kind made entirely from hemp. I am lucky enough to have been invited to its grand opening. I met the head of the Irish hemp association who was cultivating on 400 acres in Ireland and had a wonderful new hemp product range being launched.
They were all amazingly helpful giving advice on seeds and the pitfalls of growing this ancient crop, I listened and learned. There I also met one of my suppliers who had just invested in a farm and laboratory in Spain. The seminars were amazing and gave me a better understanding of the challenges that the industry faced in terms of people’s perceptions and the ever changing legislation that impacted the industry.
The more I learned the more I realised I had yet to learn, and so I continued to research into hemp, our climate, what resources were best to use, and what problems could impact our business. I got invited to Valencia by the head of the Indian hemp association to meet up with the largest cultivator of hemp in Spain. He was cultivating 5,000 hectares and doing incredible research with medical grade cannabis as well as hemp.
After my trip to Valencia I travelled to Ireland to compare cultivation procedures. I was invited to look at their facilities and see their hemp products, from oil to cloth. It was a truly incredible experience, and invaluable in expanding my knowledge of the field.
Becoming at one with the field…
On my return to Málaga I got in touch with two farms already growing organic hemp. The farmers here had similar beliefs to mine and I decided to work with them. I was so lucky that they were striving to produce wonderful organic hemp but hadn’t yet realised its potential. I became immersed in the whole process; I watched them sow the seeds, learned about threatening pests (as no pesticides were used), became part of the harvesting process; making sure the right flowers are selected for processing is time consuming and tricky for the untrained eye. Once you learn about the land and the minerals, you have a greater understanding of the whole process and, for me, it became part of my soul.
Once the plant had been dried it then went for processing to a fully qualified lab to ensure its consistency in optimum quality, I would settle for nothing but the best. All processes combine the ancient growing methods with advanced scientific techniques to ensure that we are getting the best from nature and retain all the plant’s wonderful qualities.
During the summer I started giving my product to friends and family to help combat an array of conditions from which they were suffering, from anxiety to inflammation. The feedback was astounding; I was truly being able to help people. My full spectrum CBD & CBG formula was enriched with all the right minerals and it worked! The terpenes that my scientist had suggested to add actually make people feel better. The choice of using organic olives from the province was also a success. A local, organically-made tincture from Malaga was created, and now with this success we are in the process of making a range of capsules and creams too.
So this is where I am at, I can now offer a wonderful range of beautifully crafted, organic hemp products rich in CBD & CBG, produced locally in the province of Málaga. I hope you enjoy them as much I did making them for you.
Belief in the leaf.