Time For The UK To Capitalise On Medical Cannabis

With tweaking of regulations and policies, the UK could become a medical cannabis powerhouse supporting tens of thousands of jobs states a new report.

Volteface is an advocacy organisation seeking to reduce drug harm through evidence-based policy and reform. Its New Leaf: Beyond Brexit, Countering Covid report delves into the opportunities medical cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) could bring through an economic, innovation and regulatory standpoint.

It estimates the medical cannabis market value for the UK at £1.2 billion. More than 41,000 jobs could be created in the UK medical cannabis sector; with an additional approximate 17,000 ancillary jobs with the right policy settings.

The report makes a number of recommendations, among them the appointment of a ‘cannabis tsar’ or government body specifically geared to oversee the expansion of the UK medical cannabis industry.  Regulatory matters are currently handled by the Home Office, which is creating a bottleneck.

The report says there is also a need for the cannabis industry to engage with the British Chambers of Commerce to stimulate innovation in the cannabis sector.

It also calls for allowing hemp seed varieties producing crops with a THC percentage above 0.2%  and up to 1%. There is plenty of precedent for this in other jurisdictions, which gives those farmers an edge in terms of choice in variety. Volteface says making this change would increase the yield of CBD per acre, while still maintaining very low levels of THC that would have no impact on the end-consumer.

On the topic of THC, it is also recommended the Food Standards Association provides clarity on the level of THC to be permitted in CBD products, but to ensure it encourages further investment and innovation.

Another recommendation is amending the regulation that requires medical cannabis prescriptions only be made by doctors on the specialist register, opening it up to all doctors undertaking a suitable qualification.

The final recommendation is to increase the amount of evidence on cannabis-based medicinal products in the UK in order to expand patient access on the NHS.

“Forming strategic partnerships with well-regarded UK medical establishments is essential in bringing cannabis medicines into the mainstream medical ecosystem,” states the report.

The full report can be viewed here.

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