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Report Calls for UK to Embrace Potential of Medical Cannabis Industry

A new report highlights how much legalization could support the UK's economy, from creating jobs to furthering the medical cannabis industry.

By
Nicole Potter

An advocacy organization known as Volteface recently released a report entitled “New Leaf: Beyond Brexit, Countering Covid” explores how the United Kingdom (UK) is missing out by not fully embracing the opportunities of the medical cannabis industry. 

Head of Programming at the Adam Smith Institute, Daniel Pryor, wrote the foreword for the report, stating that the UK is poised to become highly successful if it embraces the plant. 

“The European market for medical cannabis is the fastest growing in the world, and our unique position gives us the prospect of becoming a leading player in medical cannabis and CBD,” said Pryor. 

“This paper provides a fascinating overview of the state of play in these markets, opportunities for growth and the regulatory questions that face the sector. It shows how the UK is in a prime position to become the centre of the European medical cannabis and CBD industry, as well as the significant economic benefits that would result.”

Volteface’s report estimates that the UK medical cannabis market could be worth up to £1.2 billion. With this much potential, it predicts that a full-fledged medical cannabis industry could create up to 41,437 jobs, and 17,000 ancillary jobs.

The report also includes a list of seven recommendations for the UK to embrace, including:

  1. A “cannabis tsar” or governmental agency to help drive the UK toward medical cannabis legalization and regulation.
  2. Clarity from the Food Standards Association in regards to the legal amount of THC allowed in CBD products.
  3. An investment in innovation for growth in the cannabis industry, as well as communication with the National Farmers Union “to represent producer interest.”
  4. Following up with a previous recommendation from Volteface, allowing hemp seeds/plants over 0.2 percent THC and up to one percent, which would “improve the health of the plant and increase the yield of CBD per acre.”
  5. Pursuing legislative changes to speed up the flow of products, which would simplify the process and improve patient access.
  6. Changing legislation that requires medical cannabis prescriptions to be made by doctors via the specialist register.
  7. Conduct a government funded national trial on medical cannabis products to “fully unlock the UK market.”

The entirety of the report is separated into four sections. First, “The Economic Opportunity,” recommending that the UK become an “investment hub” with some of the largest cannabis companies in the world, such as Aphria Inc, Aurora and Canopy Growth. The report identifies the top 20 markets (both European countries and U.S. states). “This UK market estimate demonstrates the immense economic opportunity the cannabis sector holds. 

By developing the UK into a European cannabis industry leader, this will hold a significant amount of capital, in the realms of £1.265 billion,” the report states. As mentioned previously, it also dives into the job-related data of many states in the U.S. and how cannabis contributes to the local economy as well.

Second, “The Innovation Opportunity” opens up the conversation about the potential growth, using case studies conducted on Kanabo, an Israel-based R&D company that created what the report calls “groundbreaking,” and CiiTECH, a CBD company focused on cannabinoid research which seeks to “legitimize CBD as a health product.”

Together, the report hopes that these case studies showcase the benefits of innovation, and argues that only through innovation can the cannabis industry push past decades of prohibition into a new and prosperous era.

Third, “The UK CBD Advantage” addresses a “novel food,” which is a European law that defines a product that does not have history prior to May 1997 as a way to monitor newer developed “foods” for consumer safety. With cannabis in mind, the report addresses the challenges of compliance enforcement.

Finally, “Increasing European Competition” covers the current industries in Denmark and France, ending with a call to action for the UK to remove its barriers to medical cannabis access and begin looking toward the future. 

“The UK industry is taking off with a quickly changing landscape. Though things are looking good, there is more work to be done. If the UK wants to continue developing into a key industry leader, it must look into a controlled framework for medical cannabis access. Access must be expanded to get medical cannabis properly off its feet and see long term development.”

Many more details are available to review in Volteface’s report, which is viewable here.

Nicole Potter

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