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Review to establish greater strategic coherence for UK legal cannabis

Home » Review to establish greater strategic coherence for UK legal cannabis

The report will provide a blueprint for how the UK government and its regulatory agencies can accelerate the path to becoming the global leader in cannabinoid research and innovation.  

The UK’s legal cannabis industry consists of cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) and wellness products/consumer cannabinoids (CCs). Regulation of the legal industry currently falls across a number of different regulation departments, including the Home Office, the Department of Health and Social Care and Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The review has been launched by The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC), the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) and First November Group, which say there is a lack of strategic co-ordination for the industry.

The associations highlight that the sector has no developmental footprint in Whitehall and is unlikely to accrue benefit from significant new public investment in research and development.

Read more: UK cannabis industry calls for government to implement new policies

Despite this lack of effective public policy stewardship, the assocaitions note that the UK has created the most successful medicinal company in history – GW Pharmaceuticals – and is the first jurisdiction in the world to formally regulate consumer cannabinoids products.

Strategic Counsel at the CMC and ACI, Steve Moore, commented: “The UK has the potential to become a world leader in the field of cannabinoids but to do so it will require more visionary public-private leadership, much more effective public policy stewardship and smarter regulation. 

“This report will pinpoint exactly what is needed to make this prize attainable.”

The objectives of the review are to:

  • Build a strategic engagement with Government and associated agencies
  • Establish a footprint/landing zone for the sector within government
  • Establish a new robust coherent regulatory framework for CBMPs and consumer cannabinoids in the UK
  • Optimise the potential public funding opportunities for the sector
  • Align with current government thinking with regard to future regulation

The review will consider the size and nature of the UK’s legal marketplace in cannabinoids, and make policy and industry recommendations., covering medicinal and consumer cannabinoids. It will also take account of the entire supply chain from cultivation and R&D to product development, manufacturing and sale. 

However, the assocaitions have stated the review will not consider wider arguments for legalisation of cannabis for adult use, as the Government’s recent ten year drugs strategy implies that is not a near-term political prospect at the current time. The UK’s large illegal market in cannabis is therefore out of scope for this project.

Professor Christopher Hodges, Emeritus Professor of Justice Systems, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford, will chair the Commission which will report in May 2022. The process of consultation informing the commission will incorporate key industry players, government and regulatory stakeholder, ancillary services (legal, finance) and campaigning patient groups.

Jeremy Willcocks, partner at law firm Arnold & Porter, said: “We welcome the review by Professor Hodges of the regulation of the UK’s legal cannabis industry. Such a review is long overdue.

“The current regulatory regime certainly lacks a coherent strategy. We look forward to participating in the consultation process and to working with Professor Hodges.”

Founder of the CMC and ACI, Paul Birch, commented: “The UK is already a world leader in life sciences. We should be able to extend this capability, expertise and resources to the cannabinoid sector. 

“The report will set out how government can work with the sector to drive the innovation that will deliver health and economic dividend for UK and the world.”

The final report with recommendations will be published in May 2022. The review will include input from members of its associations, but those who are not a member and would like to participate can find out more at: hodgesreview.com.

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