The United Kingdom could be set to legalize recreational cannabis within the next five years. That is according to experts in the cannabis industry.
It appears that investors are looking into the UK as a potential new market for cannabis and business owners have met recently to talk over their plans. Specifically, representatives of leading cannabis companies have held a conference in Mayfair, London, in order to discuss the likelihood of Britain following in the footsteps of Canada, Australia, and certain states in the U.S. in terms of relaxing cannabis regulations.
According to Max Zavet, founder of Emblem, they are “very eager to get into the UK market.”
Emblem is a Canadian company that produces and sells cannabis products like fried flowers and oils. It is one of the 14 companies who were present at the Cannabis Invest conference, hoping to obtain funding from the UK.
Zavet said that there is now a global shift of opinion with regard to the drug and he believes that it is only a matter of time before the UK government decides to catch up. He also believes that the drug will first be legalized for medical purposes.
Zavet added that once this starts happening, people would no longer be as afraid about cannabis and there will be less stigma. In the next five years, he said, one might see a recreational regime here as well.
Zavet spent a few days in London in order to network and make contacts. He is hoping to attract investment and expand his cannabis business once cannabis laws in the UK have changed.
However, Zavet also believes that the UK industry in general will lose out once cannabis is made legal because businesses will play catch-up.
While the UK is at the forefront of most industries, he said, the culture is perhaps a tad too conservative and wary of a new substance that it thinks will harm society and harm children.
The Home Office, on the other hand, insists that it does not have any plans to loosen its cannabis laws in the country, and even continues to describe the drug as harmful. The Home Office pointed out that there is clear medical and scientific evidence that cannabis is a harmful drug.
For one, the Royal College of Psychiatrists warned that cannabis poses a serious risk on users’ mental health, including the development of psychotic illness in individuals who are genetically vulnerable.
Under the UK law, cannabis is illegal to use, possess, grow, sell and distribute. It is classified as a Class B drug, which means that possession of cannabis is punishable by five years in jail while supply and production is punishable by 14 years in jail. Cannabis can only be used for research purposes provided that a Home Office license has been obtained.
Despite the prohibition, the UK is one of the top producers and exporters of legal marijuana to other countries. Take for instance UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals, which has a license to grow cannabis for medical use. GW Pharmaceuticals is the company behind brands like Sativex and Epidiolex, which are used to treat multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
Add to this the fact that cannabis is also widely used in the UK. In fact, marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the country, with 6.6% of Brits aged 16 to 59 having used the drug in the last year.
Many are still optimistic that the laws will change soon.
Needless to say, it would be simpler for cannabis companies to operate their cannabis-based businesses if the drug is legal. And because there is no fear from investors, raising capital would also be easier for these businesses.