Great Britain is the world’s biggest legal cannabis producer despite it being illegal in the country

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The United Nations has recently reported on Great Britain’s involvement in the cannabis industry, exposing the country for producing more legal cannabis than anywhere else in the world.

Based on statistics gathered by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), cannabis production hit 95 tonnes back in 2016.

If we put this into perspective, the figure accounts for almost half (44.9 percent) of the global total.

What is the UK producing legal cannabis for? are being cultivated for medicinal and scientific purposes in the UK, even though cannabis is not yet legal in the country. 

Despite this, medical cannabis research is contributing to a rise in interest across the UK – something that is stimulating the support of advocacy groups.

A big chunk of legal cannabis production in the UK contributes to the creation of Sativex. This type of cannabis medication is developed by GW Pharmaceuticals.

Sativex is commonly prescribed to multiple sclerosis patients and is one of the few cannabis-based medications made available on prescription. For residents of Wales, Sativex can be acquired on the NHS.

Recrimination of the UK government’s cannabis laws

With the growth in medical cannabis advocacy comes criticism against the UK for its mass production and lack of acknowledgment for the plant’s medicinal properties. 

One such example is the criticism from Transform.

This drug policy reform group has aired its anger towards the UK government in regards to the colossal levels of cultivation in spite of the government’s unwillingness to grant patients legal access to the drug.

Unnecessary suffering is being experienced by an estimated one million people in the UK who require cannabis for medical reasons.

“It is scandalous and untenable for the UK government to maintain that cannabis has no medical uses, at the same time as licensing the world’s biggest government-approved medical cannabis production and export market,” Steve Rolles, the company’s senior policy analyst, said in a statement. 

Rolles has described the situation as “profoundly unethical” and “a violation of the fundamental right to health.” He hopes that the government will soon ease up on current restrictions and start providing cannabis-based medication to those who truly need it.

The senior policy analyst went on to say how the UK government’s ignorance is forcing medical cannabis patients to buy their buds and extracts from the black market, thus stimulating a drug crime wave and putting patient safety and health at risk.

A separate report carried out by researchers at King’s College London also revealed how unregulated types of “skunk” are being replaced with quality medical-grade cannabis. The far-reaching survey was the first of its kind to be conducted in Britain for as long as a decade.

The study, conducted by King’s College London researchers, found that high-potency varieties of cannabis accounted for 94 percent of police seizures in 2016.