A discussion paper calls on the UK Government to review what it says are outdated laws and regulations hindering the UK’s CBD and wider medical cannabis industry.
According to the paper’s authors, cannabis consultancy Maple Tree and Mackrell.Solicitors, current laws in the UK have resulted in the majority of its cannabidiol (CBD) and all of its other medical cannabis supply being imported. The perplexing aspect is that the UK is one of the biggest exporters of medical cannabis in the world.
The paper states if red tape is reduced, the UK’s medical cannabis market could be worth £2 billion, create 50,000 new jobs and make patient access to medicinal cannabis much easier.
The main recommendations in the report:
- High-THC cultivation/ controlled drug licence system reforms
- Permit cultivation of hemp flower for CBD extraction under an industrial hemp licence.
- Lift the hemp THC limit from 0.2% to 1%
- Ensure the application of the Novel Foods Regulation to cannabis related wellbeing supplements does not negatively impact smaller players in that market.
- Permitting General Practitioners to prescribe medical cannabis.
- Create an “Office for Medicinal Cannabis”
With regard to hemp specifically, currently in the UK hemp can only be grown for industrial applications and only the fibre and seed utilised. Leaves and flower must be destroyed on-site. In 2019, there were just 900 hectares of hemp farmland across the UK. The paper says the suitability of the British climate makes it extremely viable for domestically grown CBD medicinal cannabis in the UK.
Just enabling this to occur this would “radically” transform the balance of trade for UK medicinal cannabis it states, ensuring it is self-reliant and has a thriving industry supporting thousands of jobs. The current permitted THC level of 0.2% is also problematic, greatly reducing the choice of hemp strains that can be grown and greatly increasing the risk of “hot” crops that are slightly above the threshold, yet still are well under what would be considered a level to achieve intoxication.
Commenting on cannabis generally, the authors state:
“Not only would the emergence of a domestic cannabis sector help stimulate the UK post-pandemic, it would transform access for the 1.4 million individuals currently sourcing cannabis illegally for medical reasons, who are in desperate need of affordable cannabis medicine.”