A new report by drug policy reform advocacy group Volteface has revealed the UK is missing out on a potential £1.2 billion medical cannabis industry and 41,000 potential jobs due to outdated licensing regimes.
The paper makes a host of recommendations which could boost taxable revenue, create jobs and encourage investment.
Volteface claims that the appointment of a dedicated cannabis tsar would allow the nascent medical cannabis industry to flourish. Currently, simple regulatory issues must be processed by the Home Office, which is leading to unnecessary delays and costing the taxpayer money.
“New Leaf: Beyond Brexit, Countering Covid” analyses the current medical cannabis situation and outlines simple steps that could be taken to allow the UK to capitalise on the growing sector.
Volteface sought industry and legal guidance from leading cannabis companies Kanabo, who are listed on the London Stock Exchange; Ciitech, a major CBD company and Rob Jappie; a partner at Ince and leading cannabis solicitor.
The UK has recently made progressive steps to embrace the sector, with a string of medical cannabis companies listing on the London Stock Exchange, with more expected to follow.
The Financial Conduct Authority greenlit the listings after determining it was legally sound to do so earlier this year. Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since 2018, whilst CBD-wellness sales are booming.
Some recommendations also mirror those put forward by the task force for innovation, growth and regulatory reform, a report which has been warmly received by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
There is a strong sentiment within the government that growth industries must be nurtured to support the post-covid recovery.
The CBD wellness market is forecast to reach £1bn by 2025 but British farmers are currently being restricted because of obsolete policies.
Speaking about the report, Katya Kowalski, Head of Strategy at Volteface and lead author of the report said: “It is an exciting time for the UK cannabis industry, as it stands on the brink of expansion. The space must capitalise on sustainable growth and encourage innovation in order to be seen as a serious industry. The report’s findings indicate the opportunity for a lucrative market is there. Now the UK must work toward streamlined development so the sector truly takes off.”
Daniel Pryor, Head of Programmes at the Adam Smith Institute and author of the report’s foreword said: “The UK is in a unique position to reap the benefits of medical cannabis and CBD. Thanks to our sensible, liberal approach to regulation, these fast-growing markets are already attracting innovation, investment and jobs to our shores. But we can still do much more to become the European leader in these sectors, bringing huge benefits to patients and the economy whilst cementing our reputation as a global centre for excellence in research and development.”
However the idea of legalising cannabis remains a matter of controversy.
A 2019 study in global medical journal The Lancet demonstrated that people using high-potency cannabis daily were almost five times more likely to suffer psychosis than people who had never used the drug.
In February 2019 the government responded to a petition calling for an inquiry into the possible link between cannabis and violence, saying: “We have no intention of legalising cannabis. We are aware of the strong link between drug misuse and offending and an independent review will further add to our understanding of this.”