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UK’s Lack Of Comprehensive Cannabis Policy Criticized

By Marguerite Arnold

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A Report Launched by UK Minister for Science, Research and Innovation criticizes a lack of coordinated policy on “cannabinoid innovation”

The UK government is criticizing itself in a new report to be launched by the Minister of Science, Research, and Innovation – namely calling on the government to turbocharge cannabis innovation rather than continuing to take a disinterested approach to the sector.

It also explicitly criticizes the approach so far.

According to the report, “It is not sustainable or acceptable for the [UK] Government to continue to take an uncoordinated, disinterested or laissez-faire attitude to the sector as a whole, as it has done since the cannabis sector’s 2018 inception.”

The 24-page document quotes leading industry players, academics, patients, consumers, and investors.

Beyond being critical of the progress so far, however, the report also lists twenty ways in which the UK can create a best-in-class cannabis sector.

Commissioned by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis and the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry, the report was authored by Professor Christopher Hodges, a well-known regulatory expert, and thought leaders. The work will also be launched with a speech from George Freeman, a member of parliament and the minister of the agency which is ultimately responsible for the report.

It is, as a result, the first-ever ministerial address about the cannabis sector in the UK.

Evolving By Accident

According to the report, the market has “evolved by accident, without coordinated government action or a coherent strategy to steward it to maturity.” They further offer some interesting findings including that 1 in 7 Britons use cannabis for medical if not health reasons and that 64% of the population believes that scientific study of cannabinoids should be supported by the government.

A New Regulatory Schemata

Arguing that the framework established by the report would create a global advantage for post-Brexit Britain, Professor Hodges, an Emeritus Professor of Justice Systems at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford, also calls for specific changes that could be made quickly and easily.

These include allowing GPs to prescribe medical cannabis rather than specialists, modernizing the Proceeds of Crime Act, creating a national patient registry, and updating the rules about farming hemp. The report also calls for the creation of a “stewarding authority” to implement the suggested reforms as well as govern and guide the sector forward.

Through these suggestions, the report authors hope to create jobs, attract more investment, and secure both political support and public recognition.

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