This guest post is provided by Lisa K. of UK-based Legalize It We Think So.
Over in the United States, established businesses and entrepreneurs are already making the most of a multi-billion-dollar legal cannabis industry. In the UK, attempting to get by in a cannabis-based field at any level is borderline impossible.
The way things stand right now, legal cannabis just isn’t a thing in Great Britain. Hence the recent harrowing accounts of kids being shipped overseas with their parents to start new lives abroad, simply to be able to access the medical cannabis they need to get by.
A troubling situation, but sadly one that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in the near future at last.
From a business perspective, the frustration of the whole thing is easy to understand. Particularly when such enormous advances are being made overseas on a daily basis. The unfortunate truth for those in the UK being that the current challenges faced by cannabis businesses are proving to be stubborn to say the least. Examples of which include the following:
1. Insufficient Research
First of all, it’s argued that for cannabis restrictions at any level to be relaxed, the UK government will first need to see plenty of evidence regarding its potential benefits. Unfortunately, the current classification and control of cannabis is making it impossible for the required research to be carried out. Purchasing cannabis seeds is one thing, but germinate them even for research purposes without the required permission and you’re in big trouble. All of which adds up to a dead end which ultimately doesn’t benefit anyone.
2. Stigma through Misleading Classification
Speaking of which, the current British classification of cannabis is perpetuating the kind of stigma that has already been eliminated across much of the world beyond our shores. Cannabis remains classified as a Class B drug, meaning that those caught producing or selling it could face 14 years in prison, while cannabis users could technically be locked away for up to five years. Including those who use cannabis strictly for medical purposes. While ever the government continues to perpetuate its propaganda, it is going to be impossible for the public to reach an informed collective consensus on the issue in general.
3. Issues with Banks and Financers
Even in the United States, the fact that cannabis remains illegal at a Federal level has rendered almost every major bank and financial organisation unwilling to go anywhere near the legal cannabis industry. Despite the fact that doing so could have extraordinary benefits for all involved parties. Suffice to say therefore, cannabis businesses in the United Kingdom where almost every cannabis product across the board remains 100% illegal have almost zero access to banks and official financial support. Making it difficult or even impossible to get things up and running in the first place.
4. Changing CBD Laws
The recent announcement regarding the UK’s long-awaited acceptance of CBD as a medical product/ingredient came as nothing but good news. Nevertheless, licensing restrictions and regulations are tying the hands of businesses across the UK which may have an interest in producing and selling CBD-based medication. Even more interesting was the way in which the new CBD classification apparently gave the green light to those looking to import CBD products for personal use from overseas, despite their illegal status and lack of availability in the UK. Should a trend towards the import of CBD products emerge and strengthen before the UK cannabis industry finds its feet, it could make it even more difficult for British businesses to compete.
5. Lack of Separation
Last but not least, the confusing and convoluted approach to cannabis classification by the UK government has brought about a situation where there is very little separation between recreational and medical cannabis. Unlike overseas, cannabis in all its forms is essentially ‘tarred’ with the same brush and classified as a substance with a high risk of abuse and no specific redeeming qualities. Hence those who use cannabis occasionally or regularly for important medical purposes are bracketed under the same header as those who routinely use recreational cannabis as a lifestyle choice. Even those who support the legalisation of recreational cannabis wholeheartedly agree that a strong degree of separation between the two sides of the market is fundamentally important.
In terms of what can be expected for the UK cannabis market next, it’s borderline impossible to make any immediate or long-term predictions. The reason being that every time an apparent step is made in the right direction, lawmakers once again emphasize their unwillingness to even consider revisiting the classification of cannabis. Meaning that things stay exactly as they are.
Still, many industry watchers believe that it is only a matter of time before medical pot policy shows real and important signs of change in the UK. Britain has already fallen dangerously behind the curve – it simply cannot afford to bury its head in the sand much longer.