A Story of Possibility: Barry Lambert
Our mission, from the beginning, was simple. Here at Ananda Hemp, family has always been important to us. Our company was created as an answer to a very complicated problem. With a little ingenuity and a whole lot of love, what started as little hope led to something much bigger than anyone could have imagined.
Barry Lambert and a Struggling Angel
Barry Lambert, until a few years ago, was known primarily as a successful Australian businessman who built Count Financial, Australia’s largest network of accounting-based advisory firms. Today he is known as the philanthropic chairman of Ecofibre Limited, Ananda Hemp’s parent company. His love for his family is what brought him to the world of hemp. The story of Ananda Hemp would not be complete without Barry Lambert. Because of him, we have all been lucky enough to witness a world of possibility.
Barry’s granddaughter, Katelyn Lambert, at 6 months old was diagnosed with a rare condition, which is the result of a spontaneous genetic mutation. In almost all cases, the condition leads to intellectual disability and huge probability of death before adulthood. Currently, there is no cure.
Conventional medical treatments were not helping Katelyn so the family, desperate for help, turned to medical cannabis. Medical cannabis has been shown to be one of the few therapies that mitigates the condition, and cannabis derived from hemp gave Katelyn substantial relief.
As soon as Katelyn took it, her family watched as her condition improved, but given their residence in New South Wales, Australia, medical cannabis was highly illegal under the NSW Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act of 1985, which prohibits the cultivation, manufacture, supply, possession and use of certain drugs, including cannabis. The law also increases the maximum penalty for offences involving supply to persons under 16 years.
Barry Lambert, Philanthropist
For Barry, watching his family struggle was unacceptable. In 2015, Barry and his wife, Joy made one of the largest donations in Australian history - $33.7 million to the University of Sydney for research into the therapeutic use of medicinal cannabis. Aptly named, the Lambert Initiative, the Lambert’s donation has been established for “Advancing cannabinoid-based treatments to alleviate human suffering.” The Lambert initiative is an Australian first in the field of medicinal cannabinoids.
Then in 2016, the Lambert’s gifted $3 million to The Institute of Emerging Health Professions at Thomas Jefferson University to support its Center for Medical Cannabis Education and Research. It was renamed The Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp at Thomas Jefferson University, and its mission is to advance the clinical use of cannabis-derived medicinal therapies.
Ecofibre Limited, Australia
In his search for a healthy alternative to treat his granddaughter, Barry found Ecofibre. Ecofibre is an Australian genetics development company with over 20 years growing and breeding experience. It owns one of the largest and most diverse collections of hemp seed genetics with over 300 landraces of cannabis from around the world. Barry believed that Ecofibre’s combination of refining technology and specially bred hemp strains could be the start of a lucrative Australian industry, so in 2015, he invested in the company.
Although Ecofibre could legally develop the genetics of hemp, they couldn’t legally turn it into a product that would help Katelyn, so Barry alongside Ecofibre, decided to go to where it was legal.
Ananda Hemp, Kentucky, United States
Kentucky, United States was the first state to create sponsored industrial hemp pilot programs allowing tobacco farmers to legally grow hemp under the 2014 Farm Bill. These pilot programs were designed to test the agronomics of the crop, and what it could mean to farmers and processors who want to enter the industry. Barry flew to Kentucky to inspect a joint venture between Ecofibre and US tobacco farmers who were part of the pilot program in the United States. The pilot program allowed for companies to legally grow, market and sell hemp under the program. Barry made his investment decision within 24 hours, and in 2015, Ananda Hemp was formed.