A new in depth report looking at the state of medical cannabis in the UK has set out a programme of reform for the UK government.
The paper, jointly published by Maple Tree Consultants and Mackrell Solicitors, calls on policymakers to ‘make meaningful, progressive changes to the outdated laws and regulations hindering the industry’.
It also warns that, without significant reform, the industry is at ‘serious risk of being subject to a pharmaceutical monopoly’ by a handful of large firms with the resources to navigate the UK’s stringent restrictions.
Medical cannabis has been legal for a small number of conditions in the UK since 2018 but access on the NHS is negligible and only two treatments derived from the plant have been licensed for use.
Several countries and US states have moved to liberalise access in recent years and a report by pressure group Prohibition Partners referenced in the paper forecasts the industry will be worth £55n by 2027.
One of the paper’s authors and Cannabis Wealth-backer, Professor Mike Barnes, urged the government to consider the 10-point plan detailed in the documents in order to transform patient access.
He said: “This is a really important paper that illustrates the overwhelming need to recognise and support the UK medical cannabis and hemp industry.
“Let’s hope the government listens and actions these points. Let’s not miss this opportunity for jobs, income and a really efficient cannabis sector that will benefit hundreds of thousand of people.”
The ten point plan in brief:
1. Reform the high-THC cultivation license system to make the process simpler and speedier.
2. Allow the cultivation of hemp flowers in order to extract CBD under an Industrial hemp (low THC) license.
3. Increase the THC limit for approved seeds from 0.2% to 1% to align with international competition and allow a far greater variety of cultivars for farmers and ultimately the public.
4. Review the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 to allow CBD suppliers to make justifiable wellness claims.
5. Ensure that the FCA’s guidance on allowing cannabis-related companies to float on the LSE continues unencumbered.
6. Reform the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to ensure it is fit for the UK’s legal medicinal cannabis market.
7. Ensure the application of the Novel Food Regulations to cannabis- related medicines does not impinge upon smaller market participants.
8. Reassess the NICE guidelines.
9. Allow General Practitioners to be primary prescribers of medicinal cannabis.
10. The government should conduct or contract for a proper and thorough health economic analysis of the cost of introduction of medicinal cannabis and hemp flowering tops in the UK.
The full report is available to download here.