Tag: Britain

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Are Changes Coming To Cannabis Enforcement In Britain?

Earlier this year the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched a commission to explore London’s cannabis enforcement policies, which is something that he campaigned on as a candidate. Throughout 2022 Mayor Khan seemed to be promoting a policy that is essentially cannabis decriminalization.

Cannabis decriminalization is obviously not as good as outright legalization yet is clearly superior than arresting people caught with a personal amount of cannabis. Khan’s expressed desire to change London’s cannabis enforcement policies was condemned by other officials, including Steve Reed, the Labour’s Party’s shadow justice secretary.

As we previously reported, Reed made the ridiculous claim that cannabis decriminalization would “turn London into a drug supermarket.” It appears that Reed’s reefer madness talking points are not gaining as much traction in some circles as presumably hoped, with reports that the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing are proposing a less-harsh approach to cannabis penalties. Per Daily Mail:

First time users of cocaine and cannabis will be offered education or treatment programmes rather than being prosecuted under new plans being drawn up by police bosses.

Officers would agree to take no further action against those caught in possession of illegal drugs, including class A and B, for the first time under new proposals being drawn up by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing.

The offender would therefore avoid a criminal record, however, they would be prosecuted if they failed to take part in education or treatment programmes or were caught with drugs again.

According to reporting out of Britain, fourteen police forces already use this enforcement approach, including law enforcement agencies in Durham, Thames Valley, and West Midlands. It’s not an optimal approach, however, it’s a step in the right direction.

No one should be forced into rehab or counseling simply because they were caught with cannabis. Cannabis possession, or even confirmed use, is not automatically problematic be default. If a consumer wishes to go to rehab for cannabis, so be it, but it should be a personal decision and not something that is imposed by the government.


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Far More Britons Want Cannabis Laws Loosened Compared To Tightened

Cannabis policy discussions in London have made considerable headlines in recent weeks, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan currently in somewhat of a political showdown with some of his political peers.

Mayor Khan is exploring the idea of reforming the way that law enforcement handles simple cannabis possession in London. The policy exploration is part of the work that a newly formed commission is performing at the behest of Mayor Khan. He recently indicated that calls from his political peers to refrain from pursuing the work would not deter him.

Additional headlines were made when it was reported that Home Secretary Suella Braverman was considering changing cannabis’ classification level to a more restricted status. The Prime Minister’s office has since made it clear that what is being reported will not happen, although it’s still unclear to what degree Braverman wants to pursue the concept in the future, if at all.

YouGov recently conducted a poll, asking Britons, “Do you think that the current cannabis laws should be tougher, less tough, or are about right?”

“Home secretary Suella Braverman has been reportedly planning to change cannabis from a class B drug to a class A But only 23% of Britons want to see cannabis laws made tougher, with 42% wanting less tough laws, and 19% thinking they’re ok as they are.” YouGov tweeted regarding the poll’s results.

Sixteen percent of poll participants indicated that they ‘don’t know’ in response to the question being posed to them. Obviously, 42% is not a majority, and for that matter the poll was not legally binding in any way.

However, the fact that only 23% of Britons indicated that they wanted cannabis laws to be made tougher is encouraging, and something that shouldn’t be ignored by lawmakers.


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More Britons Support Decriminalizing Cannabis Than Oppose It

While many parts of the world are now trending towards adult-use legalization and/or comprehensive medical cannabis reform, if they haven’t already implemented such reforms, Britain continues to lag behind.

Technically, Britain does allow limited use of cannabis for medical purposes, with a heavy emphasis on the word ‘limited.’ It’s estimated that well over a million people in Britain could benefit from medical cannabis, however, the number of people actually afforded safe access is minimal.

Non-medical cannabis reform seems even further out of reach than comprehensive medical cannabis reform, although that’s not due to a lack of support from British citizens.

YouGov recently conducted a survey in which it asked the question, “To what extent would you support or oppose the de-criminalisation of the following currently banned substances?”

Out of the fourteen substances listed, cannabis was the only substance that received a greater level of support compared to the level for opposing reform.

Forty-five percent of respondents expressed support for decriminalizing cannabis while forty-three percent were opposed. Thirteen percent of respondents indicated that they ‘don’t know’ which way they feel about the question.

The next closest substance on the results chart was mushrooms, which received 28% support, 55% opposed, and 17% undecided.

The thirteen percent of undecided citizens when it came to decriminalizing cannabis is obviously significant, in that it’s a large enough percentage of people that if they decided to join the ‘opposed’ camp, that would obviously result in a majority.

However, those people could just as easily fall on the ‘support’ side of the equation, and studies have consistently found that the level of support for cannabis reform in polls is lower than the actual level of support in society. Hopefully lawmakers in Britain take notice.


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Will Boris Johnson’s Departure As Prime Minister Speed British Cannabis Reform?

The controversial politician was forced to announce his resignation last week. How will this affect the pace of British cannabis reform?

Through the lens of history, the passage of Boris Johnson through the country’s top political job may become forever associated, for good or for bad, with Brexit. How that plays out when it comes to forwarding cannabis reform in the now separated from EU regulations on the same is still unclear.

That said, on the CBD front, it appears that it’s full speed ahead. The Food Safety Authority (FSA) just announced that 12,000 CBD products are now legal for sale in the UK. This puts the country far ahead of the discussion in Europe, where Novel Food regulations have yet again put applications (and legalization) discussions on hold. However, one thing is also clear. The EU may have ruled that CBD is not a narcotic, but this change, along with any other decisions taken at this level, now has to be incorporated into national law in every EU country.

What Is Likely to Shake The Apple Cart?

Far more influential than anything the UK does right now is what is happening in Germany. The government has formally committed to recreational reform, formal hearings have been heard, a white paper will be issued and there is, more or less, a timetable of reform that is now being refined as necessary. The passage of recreational reform will also finally normalize the CBD conversation in Germany.

Beyond this, the normalization of cannabis in Europe’s largest economy – and the fourth largest in the world, will certainly move the needle not only in the EU but in the UK too.

From a medical standpoint, the issue has essentially stalled in the UK so far. That said, both Brexit and Covid – and now the tumult of British national politics – are not likely to be fertile ground for forward-thinking politics on this (or many other issues) until things become a bit less chaotic in the UK.

In the meantime, it is clear that limited cannabis reform is in the offing in special trials (see the mayor of London’s proposal on decrim).

For now, at least, as a result, “Global Britain” is following, not leading, on the cannabis discussion. And right now, all eyes are looking to the Bundestag, not Whitehall, to move the stakes if not the goalposts forward.


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Could Boris Johnson’s No Confidence Vote Speed Up British Cannabis Reform?

The British Prime Minister faces an internal revolt over ‘Partygate’ – but if he loses, will this move cannabis reform faster in the UK?

The UK is a bit of a hot mess right now. While the Queen seems to float above the fray and Britons seem to be happily celebrating her 70 years on the throne in delightfully nostalgic ways, blowback from Covid and Brexit is the name of the game right now across the UK.

This is certainly true for the current resident of 10 Downing Street right now. Boris Johnson is facing a vote of no confidence from the rest of the Tory party. This is predominantly because of the scandal caused by a lack of compliance with the government’s own Covid rules. However, beyond this, the UK is now suffering from not only post-Covid supply chain problems and inflation but the lingering effects of Brexit.

If Johnson does win, he will not face another such challenge for a year. What happens to pending policies – like cannabis reform for the UK?

Cannabis Reform is not Party Driven

No matter the outcome of Johnson’s fate which will be decided on Monday evening (British time), it is unlikely to impact cannabis reform, one way or another, at least directly. There are several reasons. This starts, tragically with the fact that the Labor Party can be just as anti-cannabis as their colleagues across the aisle.

Indeed, it is very clear that the unsettled political environment of the UK right now is one of the largest detriments to having a debate on legalization. The only politician who has been consistently and vocally at least pro decriminalization is the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. It is in his campaign for the same that one can hear the same kinds of reasons for legalization as in the United States. Namely, that stop and search activities by the police are predominantly targeted at minority youth.

Could German Legalization Influence the Brits?

It is very possible that German legalization later this year, along with several other EU countries (plus Switzerland) implementing some form of recreational reform will galvanize the debate here again. However, don’t expect miracles, much less fast ones. The UK does not even have a functioning medical cannabis access program backed by the NHS.

So, while the islands surrounding the UK are certainly hotbeds of reform, don’t look for any real change of policy on the mainland in the near future.

It is also crystal if not tragically clear that onshoring the debate is going to take more than the fall of a prime minister – and for reasons that everything to do with justice of all kinds – from economic to the political variety.

Both seem to be in noticeably short supply.

boris johnson, Britain

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British Cannabis Chronic Pain Study Hits Setbacks

Plans for the second British medical cannabis study hit the skids after concerns it would “soften” criminal laws against cannabis use

The British have seen many roadblocks on the way to cannabis reform. This is not just when it comes to recreational cannabis. Despite the legalization of the CBD market earlier this month, high THC cannabis remains a political third rail – especially when used for chronic pain.

A recent trial to treat this condition with cannabis, launched by a private Harley Street clinic, has just been dramatically scaled back after it failed to gain the approval of a needed ethics panel.

The plan had been to enroll up to 5,000 patients and allow them to use a tamper-proof inhaler (at a cost of about $350 per month) to consume whole-plant cannabinoids, including THC. After that, the goal was to encourage the National Health Service (or NHS) to finally cover medical cannabis costs for patients suffering from chronic pain.

So far, while it is possible to obtain high THC cannabis in the UK for medical purposes, it is impossible to receive reimbursement for chronic pain – which the government explicitly excluded from coverage.

In the United States, chronic pain is the condition most cited for regular cannabis use.

About 1 in 3 adults in the UK suffers from chronic pain – a condition characterized as severe pain that lasts more than three months.

The Domino Effect

Those who opposed the trial seem less concerned about the health of British citizens, and more about the slippery slope of legalizing more widespread medical use.
The news is significant in that it comes on the heels of news that over 5,000 medical licenses have been issued on the island of Guernsey, where cannabis cultivation, including of the high THC kind, is well underway.

Those who opposed the new British trial specifically noted that medical reform has inevitably led to recreational reform.

Sadly, this newest defeat also means that the British public, even those who are legitimately sick and use the plant to treat medical conditions that are unresponsive to other drugs – still face criminal prosecution for doing so.

As any patient who relies on THC to treat chronic pain knows, CBD flower is a poor substitute. While many use CBD to take the most extreme edge off, it is not a long-term solution.

As of today, only Project TWENTY21 dispenses medical cannabis as part of a widespread trial in the UK.


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Member Of UK Parliament Calls For Studying Cannabis Legalization

Nigel Farage is a media celebrity in Britain and hosts a television segment called ‘Barage the Farage’ in which viewers can send in their questions and Farage will discuss them with his guest(s).

Last week Nigel Farage, who is a former lawmaker, was joined by Kevin Hollinrake who is a current lawmaker in the United Kingdom Parliament. In a segment that covered a number of topics, the duo was asked, “Would Britain be wise to follow the US’ lead and reclassify cannabis and receive the tax revenue?”

Below is an embedded tweet containing the question and subsequent discussion, which occurs in the last minute of the 3-minute clip:

As you can see, the current and former lawmaker seem to be in firm agreement that something needs to be done about cannabis policy in Britain, and that prohibition isn’t working.

Unfortunately, the ‘something’ that they think needs to be done is to study what is going on in other nations, and piggybacked off of the question, specifically offering up the United States as an example, although cannabis is still prohibited at the federal level in the U.S.

As of this article’s posting, Uruguay, Canada, and Malta are the only countries that have legalized cannabis for adult use at the national level. Uruguay and Canada currently allow legal adult-use cannabis sales whereas Malta does not.

The sky remains intact over all three nations, and in the case of Canada specifically, the legal cannabis industry has created over 150,000 jobs, generated over 15 billion dollars in public taxes and fees since 2018, and contributed over 43 billion dollars towards Canada’s GDP. And that doesn’t include the number of lives that were prevented from being ruined by prohibition, which is in itself priceless.

Clearly, cannabis legalization is working, and there is no need to form an official committee or government inquiry in Britain to know that obvious fact. All the formation of a committee or study will do is result in more footdragging just to eventually arrive at the same conclusion that we are already at. End cannabis prohibition in Britain immediately, and everywhere else that it exists.

Britain, United Kingdom

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British Food Standards Agency To Publish CBD Guidelines

The regulatory agency is about to release a guide of legal CBD products in the UK market

Sometime in the next few weeks, the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) will publish details about the CBD companies and products allowed to remain on sale in the UK market.

The move comes as 210 applications for CBD products are still in consideration. Late last year, the FSA claimed that the reason this document is almost 9 months late is because of the ‘quality of applications” was lower than expected.

It is now expected that the FSA will potentially issue several documents. One is a public list of validated products, the second is a list of applications for products likely to be approved.

While it is a frustrating process for all involved, it does create, at last, a formal regulatory and approvals infrastructure for CBD products specifically.

This puts the UK ahead of several other countries at least on a regulatory front. This includes Germany, where CBD is still technically regulated under the German Narcotics Act (although CBD products are on sale in the country). It also includes Italy and France, which just issued national guidelines for the cannabinoid on December 31.

What Next?

The decision by the FSA could be the regulatory peg that the developing industry in-country hangs its hat on. This will, for the first time, allow a conversation to proceed that well may become the first regulatory schemata for the entire British industry. This in turn may help other cannabinoids, like THC, become more accepted.

So far, tragically, on the THC front, the British government has put the brakes on including medical cannabis as a covered prescription under national healthcare. As a result, the only medical cannabis available in the country is imported and further, not accessible to anyone who cannot afford both the medication and the prescription costs.

The Future of The British Cannabis Industry

It is unlikely that moving events on the continent are going to pass the UK by. Germany has just announced its intention to move forward with full boat recreational cannabis. Luxembourg, Malta, and presumably Luxembourg will all move forward in this year. Beyond this, the French have finally begun to accept CBD as a legitimate cannabinoid.

It is unlikely the Brexited British will sit this one out entirely.

How fast further reform will come, however, is still very much in the air. The silver lining of this cloud, however, is that cannabis reform has moved another step forward in the UK.

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