The medical cannabis industry in the United Kingdom is expected to be worth £690 million per annum by the end of 2021. The figures exceed previous expectations of £526 million and have been released as part of a collaborative report into the untapped potential of the CBD industry in the UK.
The recently-published report, entitled ‘Greet Shoots: Sowing the Seeds of the New UK Cannabis Industry’, has been put together by two organisations: the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) and the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI). While the report showcases the potential for the medicinal cannabis industry, it also highlights how the UK is currently home to some of the world’s strictest regulatory protocols when it comes to cannabidiol (CBD) and other medical cannabis products.
Obstacles include recent interventions by the FSA (Food Standards Agency), which requires CBD products to be regulated as dietary supplements. Home Office rules on “safe and tolerable” THC levels within medicinal cannabis products are also mentioned. THC is the psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant, and while some CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC, these levels are not sufficient enough to cause any “high” or disorientation.
The report also claims that restrictions within the UK on hemp cultivation and processing often mean that profits within the industry end up overseas. This is because hemp farmers in the UK are legally bound to destroy parts of the hemp crop from which CBD can be extracted.
In addition to highlighting legislative issues affecting the industry, the ‘Green Shoots’ document also makes a list of 20 recommendations to government officials, which are based on a submission to Boris Johnson’s new Taskforce for Innovation, Growth and Regulation Reform. This body has been newly established in the wake of the pandemic, as an attempt to boost the post-COVID economy.
Some of these recommendations include:
- The creation of a dedicated agency for licensing and control of the legal framework surrounding the CBD industry.
The foundation of a centre of excellence aimed at researching and capturing clinical evidence to boost the UK’s growing medicinal cannabis market.
Licensing reform which takes into account emerging evidence in agricultural science, clinical trials, plant genetics and novel synthetics.