THE Treasury has been urged to ”unlock the very significant economic potential” of the medical cannabis, hemp, and CBD wellbeing sectors by the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC).
To achieve a £2 billion boost to the economy, the CIC has called on the Treasury to “deliver cross-government coordination” of cannabis policy, with responsibility currently split across eight departments.
The CIC made the request within their formal submission to Chancellor Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP ahead of the Budget, scheduled for 15 March 2023.
Mike Morgan-Giles, CEO of the Cannabis Industry Council, commented:
“Despite the economic opportunity for the UK, it appears no cross-government plan covering the potential of the cannabis sector has taken place. Additionally, there has not been any top-level view or analysis of how the regulatory environment is impacting the sector.
“The UK needs to seize the opportunity to lead the world in emerging economic markets and the medical cannabis, CBD, and hemp sectors provide an unmissable opportunity to do that.”
The CIC submission also highlighted some examples of the highly challenging commercial environment which businesses face, including:
- the somewhat bizarre situation that 100% of medical cannabis products used in the UK are imported, despite the UK being the largest exporter of medical cannabis in the world.
- the existing licensing system for growing hemp within the Home Office being ill-suited to agricultural needs, leading to waste, lost income and unnecessary risk for farmers.
- the UK hemp industry being restricted by laws that mean they must destroy the economically valuable flowers (which contain the CBD) in the field.
- the treatment of medical cannabis by the Home Office being mired in bureaucracy and delay, despite very reputable individuals and businesses being involved.
- the UK still following unnecessary EU rules which stifle the industry, including the EU Plant Variety Database and its linked subsidy arrangements.
Government cannabis policy is currently split across the following departments: HM Treasury, the Home Office, the Department of Health and Social Care, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Business and Trade, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.
A white paper produced in 2021 by Maple Tree Consultants, with the support of Mackrell Solicitors, documented the unfavourable regulatory environment for cannabis businesses. The report recommendations are supported by the CIC.